Treasure for pleasure

[Readers trying to avoid sugar for health reasons may want to skip this post.]

My basement recently flooded, and I was forced to knock out some drywall to prevent mold. At one point, I discovered a secret compartment that was completely walled in. It contained several boxes.

Here I should digress and mention that I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of finding treasure. When I was young, I collected old coins. Thus the specific form of treasure I imagined was a box of gold or silver coins that some old rich guy had hidden away, due to the fact that he lost trust in banks after losing his money in the Depression. (I once knew a guy like that.)

As an adult, the few cases where I found treasure involved finding valuable posters and prints in an obscure midwestern antique shop, not hoards of gold coins. It’s thrilling!

For me, the utility derived from treasure vastly exceeds its monetary value. I’d get more pleasure out of finding a box of coins worth $10,000 than I would from seeing my 401k go up by $100,000.

In any case, you cannot imagine how excited I was to see those boxes in that walled-in space. Why would someone hide something there if it were not valuable? I ripped open the first box and discovered . . . 6 rolls of holiday wrapping paper. There was a second box (dimly visible on the right), which was even larger. It contained 10 rolls of wrapping paper. Based on the style, the rolls are from the late 1960s. That means they were brought to this house by the owner who built it in 1979—and then sealed in. Why?

By coincidence, I’ve been reading the short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which are full of parables, allegory and symbolism. What sort of message would Hawthorne find in my anecdote? What sort of message is the universe sending me? A greedy old miser seeks buried gold coins, and discovers that life’s greatest treasure is actually . . .

. . . giving?

Bah humbug.



14 Responses to “Treasure for pleasure”

  1. Gravatar of Bacon Wrapped Bacon Wrapped
    21. March 2024 at 17:10

    Don’t wrap any presents with the paper or you might set It free.

  2. Gravatar of agrippa postumus agrippa postumus
    21. March 2024 at 17:31

    its a maguffin. the real treasure is inside the tubes, or hidden elsewhere in the house. think outside the box. so to speak.

  3. Gravatar of Santa’s Helper Santa’s Helper
    21. March 2024 at 17:54

    The kids were trying to find Santa’s wrapping paper; a parent committed to the bit hid the wrapping paper too well. Whoops!

    When we moved into our house I found a signed baseball card lost in the walls; I felt bad for the poor kid who must have been devastated to lose it half a century ago.

  4. Gravatar of Peter Peter
    21. March 2024 at 19:58

    Santa’s Helper nails it, once your kids hit a certain age they correlate wrapping paper and handwriting. I just throw the excess paper away given how cheap it is but I know someone frugal like my grandparent’s entire generation would probably have did something like this, hell my grandmother used to get mad at us for ripping the paper even as she would fold it up and reuse it next year; and she was by no means poor.

  5. Gravatar of David S David S
    21. March 2024 at 21:21

    I’m sorry about the flood; what an annoyance (fire is much worse, so count your blessings, and your ancient wrapping paper).

    I couldn’t help but think of the line from Chinatown:”…we live next to the ocean, but we also live on the edge of a desert!”

    Oh, California.

  6. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    21. March 2024 at 21:24


    we weren’t poor either and we always recycled the wrapping paper… we would never use tape, always string, so it wouldn’t rip. Ah, those were the days. The 70s and 80s!

    Anyhow food for thought – perhaps that’s why your and my family weren’t poor then, and are even less so now.

  7. Gravatar of Student Student
    22. March 2024 at 04:21

    When I was a teenager me and my dad busted up this old well on his property and covered the hole with the concrete slab that was on top of it mixed in with this old iron rebar. We didn’t fill it in like we probably should have… but we did put a plastic skeleton (Halloween decoration) on and old fold out lawn chair on the platform at the bottom next to the really deep tube. Someday that’s gonna be pretty hilarious for the person that discovers it.

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. March 2024 at 08:17

    In my previous house, we walled in an old clawfoot bathtub in our otherwise finished attic. The workers doing remodeling were too lazy to haul it downstairs. In a few hundred years, someone will find it, and wonder . . .

  9. Gravatar of BC BC
    23. March 2024 at 22:00

    “I’d get more pleasure out of finding a box of coins worth $10,000 than I would from seeing my 401k go up by $100,000”

    I think I can offer you a service where I hide boxes of $10k worth of coins around your property. Normally, I would charge $100k but, for you, I can offer a 10% discount.

  10. Gravatar of Sara Sara
    24. March 2024 at 03:22

    In the 1960’s, before Nixon closed the Gold window, Americans were not concerned about whether they could afford to buy more wrapping paper.

    If it was lost in their attic, basement, or just misplaced somewhere inconvenient, they’d simply buy more.

    Today, the monetary economists don’t want you have anything. “You’ll own nothing and like it” they say.

    Don’t look at people’s real income, they say. Only look at the Nominal income (NGDP). And make sure those damn companies follow the NGDP target. If they produce too much, or consume too much, then they’re the problem, if only because they’re always the problem.

    Don’t worry about paying those loans, because “In the long we’re all dead”. Give the debt to your kids, and live the dream on a credit card because you deserve it.


    Monetary Economists

  11. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    24. March 2024 at 05:12

    I can understand how one might find more pleasure in finding 10k worth of “treasure” (nominal value of coins, I assume)-in your case defined as coins——then seeing your 401K go up by 100K. It’s more “fun”.

    That would not be true for me. But if you found those coins, and were offered $100k to sell it——-what would you do? The answer would likely depend on your usable net worth.

    Also, maybe the “treasure” could be sold for 500k—-not impossible if they are American coins——coin collecting is an interesting field where values can be multiples of nominal prices printed on the coins.

    BC is missing the point I think. You lose the surprise element——and therefore the “fun”.

    Needless to say, this is just your own private quirky memory——so there is no wrong or right answer except for your own.

  12. Gravatar of Jim Glass Jim Glass
    24. March 2024 at 12:13

    “In the 1960’s, before Nixon closed the Gold window, Americans were not concerned about whether they could afford to buy more wrapping paper. If it was lost in their attic, basement, or just misplaced somewhere inconvenient, they’d simply buy more.”

    Yup. And as back in those glorious hard-money years leading into the 1960s a good 25% of Americans lacked indoor plumbing and enjoyed coal heating (saving all that cost of plumbers and clean air & efficient heat distribution) they had more disposable hard money on hand. Plus, having a 12-year shorter life expectancy than we are afflicted with today, they had so much less need to save that they could happily splurge it all away.

    They could afford to buy so much wrapping paper that they could even hide the excess in the woodwork to surprise the grandkids, just for fun!

  13. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    26. March 2024 at 04:40

    Remember when Sumner said republicans were killing people because they supported Ivermectin? (he even banned people on his blog for supporting Ivermectin).

    Well, the court just ruled that the FDA must remove all posts and webpages which wrongly state that Ivermectin is ineffective against Covid-19 (it’s very effective), and all posts and webpages calling Ivermectin horse paste.

  14. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. March 2024 at 21:15

    Everyone, Put “ivermectin” in the search box for this blog and see what comes up.

    I don’t know much about ivermectin, but I suspect Ricardo is a heavy user of hallucinogens.

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