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Be careful what you throw away – or find – in house clearances

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Be careful what you throw away – or find – in house clearances

The famous saying – “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” – is never demonstrated more clearly when the contents of a house clearance make the news.

So far this year, a famous work by a major British artist, an undetonated grenade and a “creepy” but valuable African mask are just some of the items to turn up amongst the junk.

In January, a print by the world-famous artist Lowry was found during a clear-out of a home in Nottinghamshire.

 The snow-filled picture, titled Peel Park, was one of 850 signed copies and is expected to fetch up to £2,000 at auction.

Charles Hanson, of Hansons Auctioneers, told the Manchester Evening News: “During house clearances we come across lots of prints which are often of little or no auction value.

“To uncover one signed by the great master of 20th century urban art was a real find.”

Last week a police station in Hertfordshire was evacuated and surrounding roads closed after a live grenade was brought in by a member of the public.

The ordnance was found in a house clearance and taken to police in Stevenage, where bomb disposal experts assessed the device remotely and confirmed its safety pins were in place.

An Antiques Roadshow guest was left “gobsmacked,” according to the Sun newspaper, when he discovered the value of a ‘creepy’ tribal mask picked up in a junk shop.

The mask, from southeastern Nigeria, was bought in Swansea for £100 in 1996, and was “apparently from a house clearance from somebody who used to live in Africa.”

Expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan told the guest: “A mask like this would have a pre-auction estimate, I think, of £3,000 to £5,000.”

Hiring a skip is a brilliant way to efficiently deal with the detritus that comes during a house clearance, a house move – or even just a good, old-fashioned spring clean.

Sifting through accumulated junk can uncover forgotten pieces of art, ordnance and religion, and the fortunate few sometimes stumble across items of real value.

But would-be treasure-hunters would do well to remember another famous saying: “Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it!”