The coin was a reminder of her deceased mom that she kept as a treasure. It brought back plenty of memories from the happiest time of her life when she was just a child playing with her in the garden of their house in that little English town.
But it also had an inestimable worth for other people. And these people would end up sending the police to her door and making her face criminal charges.
Kate hadn’t thought about the coin in years. She had forgotten about it; after all, it happened a very long time ago, when she was just five years old.
She and her mom used to wander around the garden, playing like they were looking for hidden treasures. Usually, they would end up taking some strange-looking stone and pretend it was extremely rare and valuable. But one day, they had found something real.
They found this antique, mysterious coin; it seemed like no coin they had ever seen before. It was unusually thick, and it seemed really old. Like, from centuries ago.
Kate’s mom had stored it in a drawer. For the next week, they brought it out to admire it occasionally, but they soon forgot about it. And the coin stayed in that drawer until years later.
One day, Kate was getting ready to move out of the family house and deciding what she would want to take with her. A lot had changed since the finding of the coin.
More than 20 years had passed; Kate was a grown woman now, and her mother had passed away a few years back. She was devastated for a while, but now she had overcome her grief and just treasured their memories together. That’s when she found the coin they had unburied together.
It took her a bit to remember where had that came from. But suddenly, the memory struck her, and she smiled, thinking of all those afternoons spent in the garden with her mother.
Kate took a closer look at the coin. She didn’t even remember how it looked and noticed that it seemed quite antique. She couldn’t recognize what period it was from or its value. So she decided to do something.
Kate took the coin to the local museum to find out what kind of coin it was. Who knows? Maybe she had been unknowingly keeping a real treasure hidden in that drawer for years.
So she showed the coin to a scholar that was working at the museum and let him examine it closely. And after a while, he gave her the news: that wasn’t a coin.
It was what they call a piedfort. A piedfort isn’t used as currency but only for presentation purposes by officials or dignitaries. They’re thicker than regular coins and a lot more valuable.
Kate’s piedfort was a commemorative object that put a mark on the ascension of Charles IV to the French Throne in 1322. And it was worth about $3,000!
When she learned this, Kate was faced with a dilemma. Would she sell the coin to the museum or a private collector, or would she keep it?
She took the piedfort back home with her, and she spent some time thinking about the matter. And after a few days, she finally came to a conclusion.
She decided to keep the piedfort with her. After all, it was a reminder of her childhood, her mother, and their times together. And that was something that no money in the world could buy.
But the museum had other plans for her. And a few weeks later, she heard someone knocking on her door. It was the police.
They informed her that she had been sued by the museum. Apparently, she was obligated to give back the coin by some obscure law: the Treasure Act of 1996.
Immediately, Kate claimed that she had lost the coin. But what she thought would be just a little white lie with no major consequences ended up with her being arrested.
Fortunately, she was allowed to leave the police station right after calling her lawyer. But her troubles didn’t end there. As a matter of fact, that was just the beginning.
She would still have to face trial for not having notified the discovery of the coin, not handing it over to the museum, and (allegedly) losing it. If she was found guilty, she would have to face penalties of up to three months in jail!
According to the Treasure Act of 1996, anyone who finds any type of object that may be a treasure needs to report their findings.
Also, anyone who finds an object older than three centuries that contains 10% precious metals, and it is not a coin, must report it to the coroner within two weeks. So Kate may be in for some serious trouble.
However, it’s not hard to tell that Kate had some significant extenuating circumstances. After all, she was only five years old when she found the coin!
And aside from that, she didn’t even remember that the coin was at her house. She didn’t know about the Treasure Act either. The trial made it into the media, and soon, public opinion made its impressions known.
“Since when did museums become law enforcers? I too would ignore threatening letters from a bunch of ‘collectors,’” said one reader on a letter to the local newspaper.
“They took this woman to court over a coin! This is ridiculous! I’m all for preserving English heritage, but quite rightly this is her property,” said another. And in the end, the jury reached a conclusion.
They let Kate go free of all charges. She only had to pay $30 to cover her legal fees. And to this day, no one knows if she actually lost the coin or is still keeping it with her.
But we think that even if she lied about it, no one could really blame her for it. What do you think? Do you think Kate was justifiably prosecuted for what she did, or are there holes in her story?