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Historic Find: $2.5M of WWII-Era Money Found Beneath Store Churchill Visited

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Thinking of Winston Churchill walking around Britain provides visitors with plenty of history to follow in its footsteps. A recent fortunate find beneath a store is tailor-made for this history.

About an inflation-adjusted $2.5 million of bank notes that date all the way back to World War II were discovered at Cotswold Outdoor store in Brighton, which was formerly Bradley Gowns, a branch of a well-known London-based tailor shop at which Churchill and his wife shopped, Fox News reports. While the notes aren’t in great condition, they are identifiable, but why the notes were buried and by whom remain mysteries.

The money was found under the floorboards of Cotswold Outdoor store when construction workers were tearing up carpet and tiles. Russ Davis, owner of the store, didn’t realize what he discovered at first because everything was so old and stuck together.

“I just thought it was a block of wood, so I snapped it in half and then found a £1 note,” Davis said, according to an interview with the BBC. “Some of them were really bad, where you could see the metal water marks that run through the notes,” he added.

AOL reports that 30 bundles of £1 and £5 bank notes totaling £30,000 make up the $2.5 million, adjusted for inflation. The New York Post said that Sussex police now possess the notes.

The blue notes indicate the era of the notes, printed in a time when the fate and order of the world were very much in question. Today’s British notes are green, and the £1 ceased circulation in the late 1980s.

Nobody knew why the money was buried, but Davis speculated that it could have been money robbers were hiding while they waited for the stolen money to cool off. The New York Post also reported that another suggestion was that the money was meant to help Jews flee if the Nazis came to town. “We are English back to I don’t know when, but I know there is Jewish blood in the family,” Bradley Gowns, heir to the old family business, said in comments obtained by the Post. “They might have worried they’d have to buy their way out of England. Maybe it was part of a getaway plan,” Bradley said.

The find comes on the heels of two other recent and similar discoveries. A rare nickel from 1913, the Eliasberg 1913 Liberty Head Nickel and one of only five ever produced, will be auctioned by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in August. It is expected to sell for an estimated price between $3 million and $5 million, according to Fox News. A New England man last April had a gold $5 Gold Rush-era coin from the San Francisco Mint that was certified as real and worth millions of dollars now.

Only time will tell if and when more of these rarities are unearthed and give us more windows into the past.

By: Amy Linwood

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