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Jeff Bidelman, owner of Rare Collectibles in The Galleria in Richland Township, holds one of the coins recovered from a long-vacant residence in Windber.

Jeff Bidelman already was dragging a huge bag of old coins when he noticed a hole in the wall of a dilapidated Windber home.

“The woman said when she was a kid, there were always rumors that that’s where they threw money,” Bidelman said at his business, Rare Collectibles, in The Galleria in Richland Township.

Within minutes, Bidelman and the former residents’ daughter discovered that the rumors were true. Bidelman found himself literally wading in old, valuable coins.

“They think they are going to get (at least) $100,000,” Bidelman said. “I think they will probably get $200,000.”

The home had been unoccupied for almost 20 years, and the former family members who were living there have died, Bidelman explained. Their children asked Bidelman to look through the home for items of value.

“I was upstairs digging around,” Bidelman said. “I found a whole pile of coins.”

Scooping them into a plastic bag, he had to drag the heavy load and was starting downstairs when he noticed a hole in the wall.

“You don’t just have a hole in the wall,” he said.

He asked the late owners’ daughter to explain the hole, and she recalled the family rumors from her youth.

Bidelman quickly found the first-floor wall below the hole and began tapping near the floor. It sounded solid.

“When I got to about teeth level, I heard, ‘chink, chink,’” he said.

Bidelman opened the wall and the coins rushed out, “ballooning” under pressure.

Coins that have been sorted so far date from 1826 through 1964 and include large cents and seated Liberty dimes.

The coins have been removed from the old house and placed in secure locations.

So far, Bidelman has sorted and cataloged coins with a face value of about $8,500. Value to collectors will be much more, Bidelman said, adding he is already putting some items on the popular Internet auction site eBay.

There were several “large cent” coins, which were minted from 1793 to 1857. The face value is one cent, but Bidelman expects to get at least $20 each.

The family asked Bidelman not to identify them or the location of the home, especially after reading recent news reports of a woman who allegedly tried to burglarize a Windber home while the family was attending a funeral.