Family's Attic Find Yields a Pirate Tale
Is the severed hand real? Well, that's not clear
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2015 5:33 PM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A woman in Tampa doing some spring cleaning in her grandfather's attic says she found a box with some strange stuff inside, including a severed hand, old-looking coins, and a weathered map, reports USA Today. The woman and her brother say it could be authentic pirate booty that belonged to their great-grandparents, because the box also had a photo of a young couple believed to be them. What it might be instead is merely a "good pirate story," as the headline in the Tampa Bay Times puts it. Start with the hand: Is it real? Not clear. The family gave the curator of the Tampa Bay History Center a peek, and he tells the newspaper it might be a withered monkey hand. (It's not in the center's possession and so hasn't been tested.)

One finger has a ring marked "Gaspar," suggesting it's, gasp, the hand of legendary pirate Jose Gaspar. Problem being, nobody's quite sure whether Gaspar was real. So it might be a fake hand of a fake pirate. The coins don't qualify as treasure. "They're a little thin to be Spanish coins or old coins in general," the curator tells WFLA. Plus, they're corroded, suggesting they're not precious metal. The map is of downtown Tampa but no older than the 1920s based on its landmarks, including the Hillsborough River and two bridges. So what gives? "Either my great-grandfather made the best, most elaborate pirate hoax ever and never shared it with anyone or he really did find some treasure on the Hillsborough River," writes Mike Lopez to 10 News. "There's really no way to know which is the case."