Something unexpected turned up in a Kansas City, Mo. Goodwill's donation pile in December of 2017: A fiddle that once belonged to late country star Roy Acuff. The fiddle was anonymously donated by its current owners, and the instrument, which was put up for auction on Dec. 27, quickly garnered bids of up to $8,000.

However, the Kansas City Star reported on Monday (Jan. 8) that the fiddle's rightful owner had come forward and requested that the instrument be returned, as it was donated by accident. Goodwill reported that the organization would return the fiddle.

"Goodwill appreciates how valuable this fiddle is to music lovers," commented Kevin Bentley, interim president and CEO of Goodwill of Western Missouri & Eastern Kansas. "It is also a family heirloom that came into our possession by mistake."

Known as the "King of Country Music," Acuff debuted on the Grand Ole Opry in 1938 with his band The Smoky Mountain Boys. Acuff--and his fiddle--made weekly appearances at the Opry through the 1950s, as well as across the country and overseas. In 1962, Acuff became the first living performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was an avid performer who gave live performances right up until his death in 1992.

The fiddle in question came with a sticker with details of its history, Fox 4 Kansas City reports. The instrument dates back to 1945 and was handcrafted by Acuff's uncle Evart. The sticker marks the instrument No. 19, or the 19th fiddle Evart crafted. "It was made from an apple tree wood grown on the Neidman farm, which was Evart's sister and brother-in-law," the letter specifies. Acuff bought the instrument for $125.

How did such a valuable piece of country music history wind up in a donations bin? The details may never be completely clear, but one thing is for certain: No one was more astonished than the Goodwill employees that discovered it. "It shut the shop down," e-commerce program manager Gary Raines recollects of the day that Goodwill's employees realized what kind of instrument they had just gotten their hands on. "We were looking things up, playing the music. People were talking about it," he says. "It was just very exciting. Like everybody else, we are going, 'What? We can’t believe this!'"

While bidding is no longer available, fans can rest easy knowing that the fiddle has been recognized as the priceless instrument that it is, and reunited with its owners.

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