They knew it was special, but as they pulled it out for the examiner and saw the man’s reaction, they knew they had something special on their hands.
The question was, what would happen to the discovery once the world found out?
Nathan Krin and Larry Jenner had landed cleaning duty.
It wasn’t out of the ordinary though. In fact, everyone in their squad – and every other military grouping – had to chip in to keep things sparkling. This time, however, they landed an odd task.
They were to clean out one of the older buildings which was going to be converted into formal storage.
So, all the old junk had to go. Nathan was cleaning out a bunch of boxes from under a stack of old cots when he came across something very out of place.
Inside was a polished wooden box with metal accents on each corner.
The craftsmanship was beautiful. Something like that could only really have one thing inside – and they hope it was from a good year. But when they lifted the lid, there was no bottle inside, only decorative flowers.
Maybe it was a gift from a spouse that had been misplaced?
It looked delicate too – not something you would bring around in a rough and tumble lifestyle. But it was Larry that first noticed something was “weird.”
The white flowers were painted with soft hues of pink and purple.
The steam looked like it was painted with gold. Even the attention to detail on the vase was impressive. It had been carved to look like it was holding water. This wasn’t just any old knick-knack. It looked expensive. They also noticed an engraving
The two solders quickly went to work.
One searched online about the flowers while the other looked up the key words of the notation. Their hearts pumped with excitement. It was like stumbling upon buried treasure. The answer left them stunned … and running to get it appraised.
It took some negotiation but the two managed to leave the base and find the one show they had known for years … and was thankfully within driving distance.
It was the famous Antiques Road Show. Larry and Nathan were already giddy, but they needed a professional evaluation.
Their evaluator asked them the standard questions – the “who” “where” and “what”, etc.
And here’s where things got interesting. According to Nathan and Larry the engraving held the key. “QOWH, South Africa, 1900.”
From their research, the men concluded that the delicate sculpture had been gifted to their regiment for their help during the Boer War 1899 to 1902.
Long ago, some oblivious soldier had though it a simple trinket and tucked it away. If they had known who had made it, they would have never shoved it away like a bad Christmas tie.
The creator was none other than Fabergé!
The man and his family firm who made all those famous eggs that sell for millions had also done previous studies using flowers as a theme. It was this practice with flora that had developed his skills to the renowned artist. But that’s not all.
Other floral examples had been found over the years.
Enamelled cornflowers and turquoise forget-me-nots sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds each. Nathan and Larry had an idea of the value, but they still braced for the final number.
The evaluator looked closely in amazement and admiration.
He said, “One of these recently went for £600,000, but it was far less detailed than the one you have here.” The crowd gathered around, staring with gaping jaws and wide eyes. Nathan and Larry beamed with pride. But there was a coming problem they weren’t prepared for.
It shouldn’t have surprised them. But the moment they were called into their superior’s office, they knew something was wrong.
Their commander did not look happy at all. “You honestly thought no one would find out?” he asked.
Larry and Nathan explained that they wanted to make sure they knew what they had on their hands before they brought the find to light.
After all, it was a gift specifically for their regiment, and they were worried it would just be whisked away and sold to fund the general army. Or just stuck in a museum without proper credit.
It was a tense discussion.
The two of them were telling the truth, they just hoped the displeased commander would believe them. “Just because it was given to your regiment doesn’t mean your team gets to keep it. It’s property of the military.”
“Please don’t sell it, sir,” Nathan begged. “It would make a beautiful showcase it would-“
Their commander raised a hand, signalling for him to stop speaking. “We’re keeping it. Don’t worry. We’re also going to go back to the show with our own update.
The army was serious about knowing exactly what was on their hands – and also a better evaluation.
So, with the two of them in full uniform, they went back to the show and their third guest, a military historian, joined them. The final number was jaw-dropping.
“I’m going to tell you, in my opinion, that this is worth a million pounds.”
Everyone in the crowd gasped. Nathan and Larry did their best to keep their cool and remain professional. But inside they were jumping with joy. What the historian said next made them feel all the more fantastic.
He grinned and said, “Goodness gracious. Well, I’m supposed to say now that it’s not for sale.”
In the end, the two men got what they wanted – the flower on display, a note about their regiment and another notation that the two of them had made the discovery.