An ivory chess piece purchased for less than $10 was recently identified as one of the missing Lewis Chessman, 900-year-old artifacts dating back to the Viking era, which could be worth over $1 million dollars.
The medieval chess piece was originally purchased for $7.50 by an antique dealer in Scotland in 1964. It was passed down through his family, but they never realized its significance.
“For many years it resided in a drawer in [my mother’s] home where it had been carefully wrapped in a small bag,” the family, who wished to remain anonymous, said in a statement obtained by the Independent.
The family brought the piece to Sotheby’s auction house in London for a free assessment, the BBC reported. Sotheby’s said Monday it could go for between $670,000 and $1.26 million at auction.
The Lewis Chessmen are intricate, expressive chess pieces in the form of Norse warriors, carved from walrus ivory in the 12th century. The pieces are considered to be symbolic of European civilization, the BBC reported.
A hoard of 93 pieces was discovered in 1831 on Scotland’s Isle of Lewis. It is now held in both the British Museum in London and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh — but five of the chess pieces were missing.
This piece, the equivalent of a rook, is the first of the missing pieces to be identified.
“There are still four out there somewhere. It might take another 150 years for another one to pop up,” Sotheby’s European sculpture expert Alexander Kader told the Independent.
Kader went on to say that the find is “one of the most exciting and personal rediscoveries to have been made during my career.”
The piece will be auctioned July 2.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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