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They're Ours? Right?
October 21, 2010

I read the other day of a treasure find in Great Britain.

What makes the story so unusual is the coins were not ancient Celtic or Roman. They were American.

According to the London Evening Standard a trove of 80 American double eagles ($20 gold pieces) was discovered buried in a garden.

They were dated in a span of years from 1854 to 1913.

There was the usual gross overvaluation placed on them. The paper said hundreds of thousands of pounds. With the pound at $1.60, the coins would be hard-pressed to reach 100,000 pounds.

But the find is still interesting. A museum in Hackney, the area where the coins were discovered, wants to exhibit them.

With World War I breaking out in 1914 and an internal British suspension of the gold standard, perhaps the owner was hedging against a German invasion.

We may never find out what the real story is, but if we were like certain nations the United States could declare them national patrimony and demand them back.

On what grounds?

With such a dodgy pedigree, they obviously must belong to us. They all say “United States of America” right on them.

What more proof do you want?

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Recent Comments
On October 23, 2010 Jeff Kierstead said
Maybe we should offer an exchange of Gold Sovereigns!

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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