While doing some routine spring cleaning, a Florida family stumbled on a strange family relic. In their grandfather’s attic was a wooden box containing an old treasure map, Spanish coins, a family wedding photo—and, strangest of all, a severed hand still wearing a ring.
Siblings Mike and Maria Lopez told WTSP News that their grandfather Ernesto Lopez used to tell stories of Jose Gaspar—a legendary Spanish pirate who is commemorated every year during Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Festival. According to local lore, Gaspar roamed the west coast of Florida during the turn of the 20th century, though it remains unclear whether he even existed at all.
Before you start tearing through your own attic in search of booty, know that the authenticity of this haul is in doubt. The frayed map of downtown Tampa contains the word “Gaspar,” but experts say it’s likely a blueprint from the 1920s or ‘30s. In addition, Tampa Bay History Center Curator Rodney Kite-Powell told WFLA News the coins are too thin to be authentic.
"It's fascinating, but I just don't know what to make of it aside from the fact that it's probably not Jose Gaspar's hand, these probably aren't Spanish coins," he said.
Whether the hand belongs to Jose Gaspar and whether it’s a real human hand at all remain unclear, as does the true nature of the box. Is it a collection of mementos arranged in homage to a hero of folklore, a morbid prank, or something else entirely? For now the baffling discovery remains shrouded in mystery, as any good treasure should be.
Banner image courtesy of WFLA News.