Purchase price: $2.48
When Michael Sparks bought a rolled-up, varnished old copy of the Declaration of Independence at a thrift store in 2006, he didn't yet know it was the real thing, one of just 200 original copies. When word reached the news that an authentic First Printing of the Declaration of Independence surfaced at a Nashville thrift store, Stan Caffy emailed The Tennessean, identifying himself as "the idiot who donated the Declaration you wrote about." Caffy had had the document hanging in his garage for years until marrying and merging households with his new wife.
Adding to the parchment's legacy of missed opportunities, Caffy told the paper he bought it from a yard sale about ten years earlier, for an amount he said was probably about the same as Sparks paid for it.
The conserved 184 year-old document, varnish removed and still with its dark ink intact, sold at auction in 2007 for $481,750 with Raynors' Historical Collectible Auctions in Burlington, North Carolina. "I'm happy for the Sparks guy," Stan told The Tennessean. "If I still had it, it would still be hanging here in the garage and I still wouldn't know it was worth all that."