A 9-year-old British girl named Kate had always loved hanging out in their backyard. This meant spending quality time with her mother who did gardening a lot and Kate was there to help her. Thus, every seed they had planted was a symbol of their strengthened bond. But one particular day, an unusual discovery changed her entire life. This incident would affect Kate after many years that even the authorities would come knocking at her door.
Kate Harding was only 9 years old at that time when she noticed something solid in their backyard soil. With gloves on and pruners in her hand, she began digging the ground. Her eyes glinted on the silver reflection as Kate reached out the item— it was a coin. As a child, she thought it was just a regular coin that tossed in the dirt. But when she grew up, it was her life that was tossed upside down right after her mother passed away.
Fourteen years later, Kate valued the coin even more. It was the only keepsake she had with her mother from spending time together in gardening. Kate would sometimes find herself staring at the coin and replaying their memories in her head. However, curiosity took a toll on her. What was this coin for?
Finding The Origin
On her 23rd birthday, Kate decided to do intensive research about the history and origins of the mystery coin. She thought that the best way she could find out was to visit their local museum and look for the experts. But when Kate stepped on the entrance of the museum, trouble awaited.
When the experts got a good view of her coin, they immediately recognized it. They told her that the item was different from what she believed it was. Because her keepsake was not a coin at all in fact, it wasn’t even used as a currency. But it had a more significant value than money because there were only four of them that existed in the UK!
The item was identified as a piedfort. These types of coins were more distinct than a regular coin since it had a thicker appearance and heavier weight. Kate thought that it was good news because the coin was a precious item, which was a perfect representation of her mother’s memorabilia. Unfortunately, she had to discover the truth in the worst possible way that it wasn’t good news at all.
The Real Purpose
But there was one more mystery left. What was the purpose of piedforts? Clearly, it wasn’t circulated like the regular coins because these types of dimes were used as an emblem for mint officials or someone with high status. And her piedfort was manufactured during Charles IV’s 1322 reign. Therefore, the coin was more than 700 years old, and it was one of a kind! But there was a more astonishing revelation to unfold!
Since it was a rare gem, the coin in Katy’s hands valued around $3,000! However, she had no plans on selling the coin no matter how much it was worth. Because for Kate, the memories the item had with her mother was priceless. It was her memorabilia first before she discovered it was a piedfort. Unfortunately, the police had a different point of view.
Kate was requested to proceed with the local coroner about the piedfort she possessed. It was obvious that the museum had the intention of buying her coin. They wanted to examine the piedfort further so they could start the negotiation with her. Kate simply ignored all their instructions. However, the museum wouldn’t let her go that easily.
The museum began harassing Kate by sending her letters nonstop. When they received no response from her, Kate started receiving calls every single day from the museum. Yet Kate never wavered and continued from ignoring them. Unfortunately, the museum didn’t stop there.
Law On Her Doorsteps
Kate’s doorbell rang. She ran to the entrance thinking it might be just a delivery she ordered online. But when she swung her door open, it was the police with a document in hand. Kate took a closer look at the paper and found out that it was a summon from the court. She had no idea what was going on. And Kate believed that she had all the rights since she was the person who found the coin from the first place. However, it was beyond her knowledge that there was a rightful law called the 1996 Treasure Act. And she could be the first person to be prosecuted from that parliament.
1996 Treasure Act
According to the 1996 Treasure Act, the finder must report within 14 days to the local coroner of any item as long as it was more than 300 years old and contained less than 10% of silver or gold. Because it could be considered a treasure. Kate’s piedfort qualified in all requirements except she didn’t go to the local coroner. Therefore, she just committed a criminal offense.
Kate was in dire straits. She could be prosecuted and sentenced to three months of jail. However, the light still shone. Her lawyer, Brendan Reedy, defended that the coin had a different value for Kate because it held the memory of her beloved mother. And she had no intention of using the coin for any kind of profit. Plus, Kate wasn’t able to report it since she wasn’t informed about the law. Could their defense be enough to convince the court?
Kate admittedly told the authorities that she wasn’t able to contact the coroner in fear of taking the coin from away her. And despite the possible criminal offenses she might face soon, Kate was still firm that she would not yield the coin. The sentimental value it had for her was priceless rather than its real market value. She wanted to win this case so badly.
Everything proceeded into legal action. After a long period of court hearings and debates, Kate was set free. She only had to pay $30 for legal fees. But what happened to the piedfort? The court ordered her to surrender the coin to the museum. She won some but also lost some. Kate was in disbelief after the jurisdiction that it took months before she proceeded to what she formerly instructed. However, when the coroner received her call, they were baffled!
The museum promised Kate that she would receive $3,000 after she handed the piedfort to them. But Kate responded with terrible news. She informed the coroner that she just lost the coin. Yet when the public heard the story about the piedfort, they quickly took Katy’s side. “Since when did museums become law enforcers? I too would ignore threatening letters from a bunch of ‘collectors.” One person commented on social media.
Another netizen wrote, “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?” It was clear that the public was fuming mad at the lawsuit that happened to Kate. They believed that Kate should’ve all the rights since she was the one who found it. Therefore, there was no other reason for her to give up the piedfort.
Besides opinions, there were also questions regarding the controversial case. An internet user named Alan from Coventry asked, “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?” After realizing the possible holes from the issue, he submitted more questions.
“Secondly, if it took place 14 years ago, she was only nine 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.” He stated that Katy should appeal again to a real judge because it seemed like it was only the magistrate that gave her the criminal record.
The news that Kate brought about losing the piedfort also seemed suspicious. Her intention of not giving up the coin might resort Kate to lie to the authorities. And according to the netizens, they would have done the same if they were in her shoes. Because if an item was memorabilia of your loved ones that passed away, would you just give it away?
The authorities dropped the matter after they found out that Katy lost the item. When and how did Katy lose the piedfort remains unsolved, and the police didn’t bother her anymore. Although she got offered an enormous amount, Katy didn’t sway and protected the coin within her grasps. Indeed, those things that held memories and emotional value to you worth so much more than money—it remained irreplaceable.