By Ashleigh / Dec 22, 2022
She kept the coin as a reminder of her mother. Whenever she looked at it, memories would come flooding back, reminding her of the happiest time of her life. She yearn for the days when she was just a child, playing with her mother in their backyard, in that small English town.
But this wasn’t any old coin. You see, it also had an inestimable worth for other people. These people would end up calling the police and sending them to her door, 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 uncovered together.
It took her a while to remember where it had come 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.
She Took It To The Museum
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 – it wasn’t a coin.
Good And Bad News
Experts examined Kate’s unusual find and told her that the memento she had been hanging onto for so long wasn’t actually a coin at all.
Friendly Metal Detecting Forum – Tankerhoosen
Although this “coin” was never used as currency, it was worth a lot more than she had ever imagined. In fact, only four had ever been found in the UK. You’d think that this would be good news, but you’d be wrong.
It was what they call a piedfort. A piedfort isn’t used as currency but only for presentation purposes by officials or dignitaries. Piedforts weigh about twice as much as a coin and they are about twice as thick.
Naturally, Kate was overjoyed to hear that her precious piece of treasure was valuable. But her elation was short-lived.
An Unusual Find
Although the exact use of piedforts is unknown, historians believe that they were used as guides for mint workers or as reckoning counters for officials.
Kate’s particular coin was a representative object marking Charles IV’s ascension to the French throne in 1322, making it extremely rare and over 700 years old. Kate’s head was so abuzz with this detail that she should have been paying more attention to what the museum staff told her next.
The rare piedfort was valued at around $3,000. But although Kate’s head swam when she was finally told the value of her childhood find, she faced a dilemma.
She’d kept the ‘coin’ close for all these years because looking at it made her feel closer to her mother. But the authorities, unfortunately, wouldn’t share her sentiment.
When she learned the value of her ‘coin’, 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 amount of 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.
The Ludlow Museum insisted that Kate inform the local coroner of the find so that further examinations could be made and negotiations could begin – they still wanted to buy the piece.
But Kate, deciding to rather keep the piedfort, went about her life and ignored the request. She couldn’t have realized that they wouldn’t let it go so easily.
Letters from the museum began to pile up at her door, and soon the staff was calling her day and night. But Kate, not wanting to part with her historical piece, ignored them all. But she couldn’t dodge them forever.
Soon, Anthony Sibcy, the coroner for South Shropshire, was alerted to Kate’s actions. Little did she know, her troubles were just beginning.
An Unpleasant Surprise
The police arrived at her door and issued a summons for Kate to appear in court. Naturally, she was dumbfounded. Surely she had done nothing wrong?
The piedfort was hers as far as she was concerned – she’d found it. But, unluckily and surprisingly, the law definitely wasn’t on her side. As far as they were concerned, she was a criminal.
What Did They Want?
The police informed Kate that she had been sued by the museum. Apparently, she was obligated to give back the coin by some obscure law.
Of course, Kate could never have expected her renewed interest in her favorite childhood memento to lead to her being arrested. She was about to become the first person to be prosecuted under the United Kingdon’s Treasure Act of 1996..
At The Police Station
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, it was just the beginning.
She would still have to face trial for not having notified the coroner of the discovery of the coin and not handing it over to the museum. If she was found guilty, she would have to face penalties and time in jail!
An Obscure Law
The Treasure Act of 1996 claims that any object found that is older than 300 years, is not a coin, and contains 10 percent precious metals needs to be reported to the local coroner within a 14 day period, which Kate failed to do.
British Museum Blog
Kate’s actions were now considered a criminal offense – and all because she wanted to keep her sentimental artifact. But who was right?
Kate was in dire straits. She was arrested, prosecuted, and faced up to three months of jail time. But Brendan Reedy, her lawyer, wasn’t about to let that happen.
Brendan Reedy claimed that she didn’t report the treasure due to disorganization and because the coin had sentimental value to her. But would her defense be enough to win the case?
Kate admitted that she had not reported the treasure to the coroner, but she was still determined to keep the piedfort at all costs.
The fact that it was rare and valuable was purely incidental – it was all she had left of her late mother. That made it priceless to her. She was all too aware that she still may have to give it up, even if she won.
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.
Still One Problem
After a long battle, Katie finally walked free from the court under a conditional discharge and had to pay around $30 toward the legal fees.
But she hadn’t won the right to keep what was, in her mind, hers. Then she decided to do what she should have done months ago. After her ordeal, she finally decided to speak to the coroner. But she had an ace up her sleeve.
Finding A Way
The Ludlow museum was willing to pay Kate $3,000 for her precious item, but when she spoke with the coroner she claimed that she’d lost it. As such, the piedfort never made it to the museum.
Naturally, the public was outraged by Kate’s story. One wrote: “Since when did museums become law enforcers? I too would ignore threatening letters from a bunch of ‘collectors.’”
Other netizens couldn’t believe that such a frivolous lawsuit occurred in the first place: “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, what happened to possession is 9/10ths of the law?” Another user wrote: “that is crazy! She found it fair and square, why does she have to give it up?”
Alan from Coventry had some questions: “I can’t understand how she could be found guilty. If the find was in 1996, did it occur before or after the Treasure Act came into force?
“…can the prosecution prove the date of the find?” he asked. It was very clear to everybody that someone wanted the piedfort badly.
Alan continued, “Secondly, if it took place 14 years ago she was only 9 years old. What was the age of criminal responsibility at the time? For juveniles under the age of 15, the prosecution would still have to prove that she knew that the act was seriously wrong.”
Friendly Metal Detecting Forum – Tankerhoosen
He concluded: “As the magistrates’ appalling ignorance of the law has given her a criminal record, I think she should appeal before a real judge.”
At All Costs
So, did Kate really lose the treasure that she’d kept safe for 14 years? It’s unlikely. But she was willing to do everything in her power to keep it, even if that meant lying.
Would you have done the same thing if you were in Kate’s position? Would you part with a priceless item that reminds you of your departed mother?
Without A Trace
After Kate said that she had since lost the coin, authorities also stopped harassing her. Unfortunately, no further examination of the coin could be done and its whereabouts remain a mystery.
Although she could have gotten $3,000 for the rare antique piedfort, we believe that Kate has kept the coin somewhere safe.
Hopefully Not Gone
In the end, 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.
Perhaps she’ll pass the valuable antique on to her children. Hopefully, this won’t be the last anyone sees of it.
Could You Blame Her?
But we think that even if Kate lied about losing the piedford, no one could really blame her for it. After all, the ‘coin’ reminded her of happy times as a child, while her mother was still alive. What do you think? Do you think Kate was justifiably prosecuted for what she did?
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.