Medieval chess piece sells for $1.3M after grandad buys it for just $9

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An antique Lewis Chessman piece, which had been stored in a drawer for years on end, sold for a staggering $1.3 million dollars. Source: Instagram/ Sotheby's

A medieval chess piece stored in a drawer for years on end has been sold at an auction for a whopping £735,000 (AU $1.3million) after originally being bought for just £5 (AU$9) in 1964.

The unique item, identified as one of the most famous chess pieces in the world, is part of the Lewis Chessman set which was discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the UK.

It was bought by a Scottish grandfather and antique dealer 55 years ago and has been passed down throughout the family, who were completely unaware of its value or rich history.

The Lewis Chessmen set is a prized collection of 93 pieces, with 82 of them on display in a British museum in London and a further 11 kept safely at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The remaining five pieces’ whereabouts are currently unknown, with the most recent discovery the first to be found since 1831.

They said at the time it was catalogued as an antique walrus tusk warrior chessman, giving no hint away as to its important history.

“It was stored away in his home and then when my grandmother died my mother inherited the chess piece,” the family member explained. “My mother was very fond of the chessman as she admired its intricacy and quirkiness. She believed that it was special and thought perhaps it could even have had some magical significance.”

The discovery was especially momentous for Sotheby’s expert Alexander Kader who said it was “one of the most exciting and personal rediscoveries” to have been made during his career.

“It has been such a privilege to bring this piece of history to auction and it has been amazing having him on view at Sotheby’s over the last week – he has been a huge hit,” he told the BBC.

“When you hold this character warder in your hand or see him in the room, he has a real presence.”

Have you ever discovered something valuable like the chess piece? What would you do with the money from the sale?

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