Handcuffs, gold coins, jewels and junk: State will auction contents of abandoned safe-deposit boxes

There are enough watches and diamonds to open a jewelry store, enough silver to melt into into a banquet’s-worth of flatware, enough gold to sink a small rowboat.

It’s time again for the Department of Revenue auction of stuff that has been left in abandoned safe-deposit boxes across the state.

Looking for some antique handcuffs, a ticket to a Joe Louis-Jersey Joe Walcott heavyweight fight, some Confederate currency, a Johnny Unitas rookie card or a belt buckle from Spokane?

It’s all there.

Some 2,400 lots will be auctioned by James G. Murphy Inc. on Nov. 19 and 20 at its Kenmore facility, 18226 68th Ave. NE. The auction will run each day until all lots scheduled for bid that day are sold.

Bidders can preview the items in person Nov. 17 and 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They can also glance at the online auction catalog at

Among the lost treasures, according to a department release, is a sketchbook believed to be from famed artist Pablo Picasso. Although the sketchbook has not been authenticated, it could generate significant collector interest.

Add a lot containing gold medals from USGA golf tournaments in the 1930s.

And much more.

All items have been retrieved by the Department of Revenue after financial institutions lost touch with owners and rental fees went unpaid. State law requires the department to auction off the contents if the owners haven’t been found within five years of receipt.

Revenue holds the cash proceeds, minus auction and bank fees, in the safe-deposit box owner’s name should the owner or an heir come forward to claim the proceeds.

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535