When you’re gardening, we bet the last thing you’d think to find is a 700-year-old coin. Well, that’s exactly what happened to a little girl. She could have never imagined this lucky find would bring the police to her door a few years later.
Helping Her Mom
When she was about 9 years old, British citizen Kate Harding was helping her mother out in the garden. All she was really doing was playing with the dirt when she came across a very old silver coin.
Just like any other little kid would do, Kate hid the coin from her parents, keeping the buried treasure her own little secret. She went into her room, closed the door, and began cleaning the dirty coin. She thought it had been buried for quite a while since it was so dirty.
Abandoned In Her Dresser Drawer
A week later, Kate had been still obsessing over her new find, and she shoved the old coin into her dresser drawer and forgot about it. She had no idea it would come back and haunt her years later.
Brings Her Back
Back then, she didn’t think much of the old coin. However, she decided to save it and told no one else about it. Years pass, and she’s in the process of moving out of the house preparing for college. While packing up her things, she came across the coin.
A Sudden Loss
The moment she rediscovered the coin was a sad one. Her mother had passed away just a few months after she discovered the coin. Instantly, Kate felt like she was little again. That day provided some of the last memories she had with her mother.
A Good Memory
As you can imagine, this turned her life around. Kate held onto the coin as a reminder of her late mother and all those days they spent in the garden together. However, 14 years later, Kate’s interest in the coin grew.
Kate had no information about the coin when she was little, but she felt like she could find out some more facts now that she was an adult. Her curiosity was suddenly heightened and she decided to make it her own little mission to find out more about this coin.
I Need Answers
At 23 years old, Kate wanted to figure out exactly what the coin was and where it could have come from. The little piece of metal truly puzzled her. Several questions swam around in her brain, and she needed answers, fast.
Trying To Understand
The next day, Kate went to the local museum in her town and enlisted the help of some experts. She explained the story and asked for their help so she could understand more about the story of this coin.
Looking For Answers
That fateful day, Kate walked through the museum door looking for answers. She just wanted to understand the history of this piece. She had no clue the coin was going to get her into more trouble than she’d ever been in.
When Kate took the coin out of her bag, the expert staff took it to inspect it. A few seconds later, the expert told Kate some unexpected news to Kate. They had looked the piece over and discovered something very interesting.
The expert explained to Kate that this coin wasn’t actually, well, a coin. In fact, it was something completely different. She was shocked to hear that was the case. If it wasn’t actually a coin, then what could it possibly be?
No Doubt In Her Mind
Before getting to the museum that day, there was no doubt in Kate’s mind that she found a coin. Despite the fact that it wasn’t used as currency, it turned out to be worth a whole lot more than she thought.
Not Good News
It turns out that they have only ever found four of these coins in the United Kingdom. It’s easy to assume this would be good news, but you’d be wrong thinking that. A storm was brewing for Kate, and she had no way to escape it.
Not A Coin
The experts then told Kate that even though it looked like a coin, it was actually a piedfort, which is very similar-looking to a coin. The difference between one and a coin is that piedforts weigh about twice as much as coins. Not to mention, they’re double the thickness of coins.
An Understandable Mistake
It was understandable that Katie was sure the piedfort was a coin. Anyone who wasn’t in the business would make the same mistake. Now, Kate became curious about piedforts and what one was doing buried in her backyard.
A Heap Of Cash
Kate got even more excited when she discovered that her coin was worth quite a lot of money. Any student dealing with loans would be able to understand where she was coming from. Maybe she wouldn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck anymore!
Of course, she was overjoyed when she heard just how valuable her treasure really was. After all, she’s the one who found it in the first place, so she was sure she was the one to get the profit. It only makes sense, right?
A Great Find
Despite the fact that experts haven’t figured out what piedforts are used for yet, the theory is that they served as guides for mint workers or reckoning counters for officials. They knew they were valuable, but they weren’t sure as to why.
She Couldn’t Believe It
This fact makes it a very rare object that was about 700 years old! Kate was buzzing when she heard this, although she probably should have paid closer attention to what they were telling her. What else did they tell her?
Discovering Its Value
Kate’s coin that wasn’t actually a coin was a commemorative object that marked the ascension of Charles IV to the French throne way back in 1322. Of course, this meant that it had significant historical value, making it worth a lot of money now.
The rare piedfort was said to be worth $3,000. Even though she was thinking of all the ways she could use that amount of money, she knew it was a priceless object to her. It reminded her of her mother.
Forego The Cash
To Kate, the coin held sentimental value that exceeded its monetary value. She kept it after all those years because it made her feel close to her mother after she had passed away. So we’d guess that she kept it despite of its value.
On Different Pages
It turned out that this wasn’t the case. The police of England didn’t share the sentiment Kate had. And since the coin held such historical value, the authorities wanted to get it from Kate, whether she wanted to give it to them or not.
A Messy Situation
You can imagine that Kate had a hard time being understanding the fact that the authorities wanted to forcefully take the coin from her. However, at the same time, they had a hard time understanding why Kate was holding onto it so carefully.
The Ludlow Museum insisted that she tell the local coroner about the rare and exciting find. This was so they could examine it further and begin negotiations. Yes, they were willing to buy yhe coin from Kate.
She Didn’t Want To Sell
By this pont, Kate had already made up her mind about keeping the piedfort. She simply went about with her life and ignored the request. However, she was wrong thinking that they would give up on it so easily.
The museum kept on sending her letters about it. To top it off, the staff called her every single day. She simply ignored their calls and letters because she didn’t want to let go of the matter. It just meant to much to her.
Can’t Hide Forever
She knew she couldn’t dodge these people’s calls and letters for the rest of her life. Soon enough, a South Shropshire coroner named Anthony Sibcy was informed about the peculiar situation that unfolded.
A Terrible Surprise
Before she knew it, the police was at Kate’s doorstep. They issued a summons for her to show up in court. She was absolutely dumbfounded. Did she do something wrong? As far as she was concerned, the coin was hers since she found it.
In Too Deep
She had no idea that the law said otherwise. She didn’t even know there was a law existing about old coins. Kate had a feeling she was in too deep now. She had a sneaking feeling that there was no way of getting out of it anymore.
Kate didn’t have the faintest clue that she would be the first person to ever be prosecuted under the Treasure Act of 1996. She didn’t know her situation would get to such a point. She just wanted to learn more about the coin she found when she was young.
The Treasure Act
The Treasure Act 1996 was created by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It specified that the finder of any sort of objest that can be classified as treasure has no choice but to report their discovery. This law was legally binding.
The act of 1996 states that a found object that dates back over 300 years that contains 10% precious metals and isn’t a coin has to be reported to the coronoer within a period of 14 days. This explains why they were so adament getting that coin from Kate.
Kate didn’t report the coin. Since she had no idea her coin was actually a piedfort, or that this law even existed, who can really blame her? What’s more, the authorities had absolutely no remorse for her.
Who Was Right?
What she did was actually considered to be a criminal offense. Since she never reported the coin and wasn’t willing to give it up, her offense was taken that much more seriously. Who was the one in the wrong here?
Kate felt so helpless, but who wouldn’t, being in her situation? She wished her mother would be around to guide her and give her some advice on what to do. She was arrested, prosecuted, and could be given up to three months in jail.
In Her Defense
Since she was in trouble, she hired a great lawyer out of Shrewsbury named Brendan Reedy. He had plenty of experience with representing clients at magistrates courts, the police station, Crown Court, and Court of Appeal. He wasn’t going to let anything happen to Kate.
On Her Side
Fortunately, he was totally on her side and agreed to fight for her against the authorities. Would they win the case? Or would she be forced to give up the cherished coin that held so many meaningful memories?
A Big Headache
Brendan went with the story that Kate didn’t report the find due to her disorganization and its sentimental value to her. Also, seeing as she was 5 years old, it wasn’t possible at the time for her to report it.
Only Time Would Tell
Kate and her lawyer hoped this would be enough to get her out of this huge mess. They both knew how tough and strict the courts could be when they wanted something. Only time would tell what would happen.
Gardening With Mom
Kate admitted that she didn’t report this treasure to the coroner once she was aware of the law. We can all agree that’s not the smartest move, but we need to remember how much this precious coin reminded her of gardening with her late mother.
It Was Priceless
Despite everything that happened, Kate was determined now more than ever to keep the coin in her possession. It might have been valuable and rare, but that’s not what mattered to her. The only thing that mattered to her was the memories it held.
She Had Nowhere To Turn
To her, this was the only thing Kate had left of her mother. Which, of course, made the object absolutely priceless. She knew that they might go after it even after she was cleared of all charges. What would she do next?
Speaking To The Coroner
While it was a long and tiresome battle, Kate was finally able to walk free under a conditional discharge. She only needed to pay about $30 for her legal fees. However, she still didn’t have the right to keep the object she believed was hers.
Still A Surprise
Once she was cleared, Kate finally did what she should have done many months ago. At last, she went to talk to the coroner. Little did they know she had a surprise in store for them. What could it be?
She Lost It
The Ludlow Musem initially wanted to pay Kate $3,000 for the coin. However, she explained she had lost it when she spoke to the coroner! Because of this, the piedfort never got into the hands of the museum.
The public was outraged at the way the authorities handled this delicate situation. “Since when did museums become law enforcers? I too would ignore threatening letters from a bunch of ‘collectors.’” At least she wasn’t alone in this battle.
People couldn’t believe that a lawsuit like this even took 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…”
Bending The Law
It wasn’t just one or two people, plenty of others had lots to say on the matter. “…What happened to possession is 9/10ths of the law?” said one user. Another one went on to say, “That is crazy! She found it fair and square, why does she have to give it up?”