In 1981, Brooklyn native and son to Italian immigrants, Byron Preiss, launched the longest-running treasure hunt in recent times.
Byron was an author and had the idea to launch a treasure hunt that would span North America. He commissioned an artist to create 12 ceramic jars with lids and 12 ceramic keys. He then placed a key inside each jar, called a casque, then encased the casque in a plexiglass box. He took each casque to a different city in North America and buried it somewhere within the city. He hid the 12 casques in 11 cities in America, and 1 was hidden in Canada.
Byron then commissioned artist John Jude Palencar to create 12 paintings- one to represent each casque – and each painting contained clues to finding a casque. But, the paintings were also to represent a different immigrant group that had come to North America. Also, in each painting is a jewel that represents the immigrant group.
Byron wrote 12 verses to accompany the paintings, which also contained clues on how to find his hidden casques. He also enlisted several authors to help him write stories to be published in a book with the paintings and the verses. The book was to be used as a guide for finding the casques. He titled the book, The Secret: A Treasure Hunt.
Byron published his book and issued his challenge: pair the correct painting with the correct verse, determine the city and immigrant group it represents, then follow the clues to find the treasures. If you are successful in finding one of the casques, you will win the jewel featured in the painting for that casque.
In almost 40 years, only 3 of the casques have been found. The first was found in Chicago a year after the treasure hunt was launched. The second was found in Cleveland more than 10 years later. The third was found in Boston in October of 2019.
Sadly, Byron was not around to see the third casque found because he perished in a car accident in 2005.
Since the third casque was found, and highly publicized, there has been a renewed interest in this treasure hunt. Many people have purchased the book (now in a reprint and available on Amazon) and have poured through the pages trying to discover clues to finding the remaining casques.
Follow Jason and Sacha as they dig in and look for some of the remaining casques.