I was perplexed about the terms of the agreement reached between the U.S. Mint and the finders of a 1974-D aluminum cent, since the
Mint's press release revealed nothing. An article in the San Diego News sheds a little light on this in an interview with one
of the gentlemen. -Editor
After finding a one-of-a-kind aluminum penny potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the finder, Berkshire Hathaway Realtor
Randy Lawrence, and Michael McConnell, owner of La Jolla Coin Shop, teamed to verify and capitalize on the find.
But after a court battle with the federal government, which also claimed ownership of the 1974-D aluminum one-cent piece, the Realtor
and the numismatist settled, ultimately, for donating it back to the United States Mint in Denver, of which Lawrence’s father Harry had
been a deputy director until his retirement in 1979.
When McConnell discovered how rare Lawrence's penny was, Lawrence noted the coin dealer was “too honest” not to inform him about it,
and the two agreed to work together to auction it off.
“But then the federal government stepped in and said they wanted the coin back,” Lawrence said, noting that that derailed their plans to
auction the coin, with an estimated minimum value of $250,000, and donate up to $100,000 to fight homelessness locally.
To make a long story short, McConnell and Lawrence finally agreed to drop their lawsuit with the government over the rare coin and
instead reached a settlement with the U.S. Mint that would preserve the coin’s historical significance for public appreciation and
“We didn't get any money, but we still feel really good about (donating) it,” said McConnell, adding, “We know it (coin) isn't a
unicorn anymore. It does exist.”
Though he didn't profit materially from the rare coin, McConnell noted going through the legal system was a great learning process,
which in and of itself had value. Lawrence described the finding of the rare coin and the ensuing legal battle as a “wonderful
Of the end result, Lawrence said, “It's a feel-good story — without the money. I know my father would be pleased that others will
get to see and enjoy this rare piece in the U.S. Mint collection for years to come.”
To read the complete article, see:
This coin dealer knows where
the real treasure is (http://sdnews.com/view/full_story/27140237/article-This-coin-dealer-knows-where-the-real-treasure-is)
So the men dropped the lawsuit and "donated" the coin, meaning that the Mint didn't "seize" it after all. And if
it's a donation, then can the men at least get a tax deduction out of this? After spending money on lawyers fees they'll want to
recoup that somehow. But would the IRS consider the U.S. Mint an organization eligible to recieve such a donation? The National
Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian would seem a more logical choice since it's an educational institution. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
U.S. MINT REGAINS DISPUTED 1974-D ALUMINUM CENT
Wayne Homren, Editor
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