Friday, June 22, 2018

10,000 Silver Coin Story

About every year or two, I essay a piece where I warn non-Germans in Germany....don't get into the treasure hunting business, it's just not worth the hassle.

Here's the deal....between the Roman era, and the thousand years that passed, there are tons of things laying inches under the soil and waiting to be discovered. 

German law?  Any single thing that you find that goes past the WW I era....is state property.   If you dig up Roman coins and try to walk away without reporting it?  Embezzlement....potentially on up to three years in a German jail.

So you can search on private property, if you get the permission of the owner.  Once you find anything of 'old' nature.....you have no choice but to report it.  On public property?  That's a big 'no'.  So it really makes 'hunting' to be worthless.  The government will typically say that they'd be open to a reward.  You can figure if it does have a value of a million Euro....they might be willing to discuss something around 5-to-10 percent range of a reward. 

Why this comes up?  Well....in the Focus news magazine pieces for today....they brought up two young guys from Baden-Wurttemberg who figured they'd skip the notification to the government.

What they found?  10,000 silver coins from the late Roman era. 

They split the coins up and just walked away.

Maybe if they'd sat and sold one or two coins at a time....it probably wouldn't have attracted attention.  These were young guys and just grasping how much blunt-force will be used on this type of situation.   My guess is that the judge will hand down some probation situation, and they lose out on any type of reward.  The end of their 'hobby'?  More than likely. 

So my advice....treasure hunting isn't worth the hassle in Germany.

2 comments:

josep-n said...

If I'm not mistaken, a few other countries (e.g. Japan) more or less have similar laws. I'm not sure to which extent the USA has it too (if it does, that is), as I'm not a treasure-hunter myself.
Re: the law itself, though, I'm not sure of the rationale behind it. While the law has the disadvantage of, as mentioned, making treasure-hunting difficult, I can understand how some would feel uncomfortable about defacing historic property.

R Hammond said...

No one says much over you finding something from the 1800s. Where the government declares itself the owner in every case is the Roman era. I think some law should exist, that paid you the actual value. But that would never happen.