TRAVERSE CITY — A coin found on a sidewalk in Traverse City could be worth thousands of dollars if it is the genuine article.

Traverse City Police Sergeant Matt Richmond said dispatch received a call Wednesday that someone had found a coin on the sidewalk along Eighth Street near a construction site. The person said the coin looked valuable.

Although detectives have not yet determined exactly what coin it is, Richmond conducted an image search online and found that it is possibly a Syracuse Dekadrachm, an ancient Roman coin that was in circulation between 405-380 B.C.

A worn Syracuse Dekadrachm can fetch the owner about $3,000 if it is authentic, according to CoinQuest. The average circulated Syracuse Dekadrachm is worth about $4,000 while a well-preserved version of the coin is valued at $6,000. Other versions have been bought for far more at auction, including one for $437,000 in 2013 and another for more than $340,000 in 2014, according to Coin Week.

The odds of this particular coin being the real deal aren’t great, said Steven Garvin, owner and operator of Honor Coin & Stamp in Traverse City. Garvin, without having seen the coin, estimated there is a 25 percent chance it is a true ancient coin.

“I guess it’s possible,” Garvin said, “but I have a box behind my desk that says ‘NFG’ on it. Stands for ‘No ----- — good.’ There’s a lot of stuff in there, and those ancients are a lot of the stuff you see that’s no good.”

Garvin said the market is flooded with fake coins made overseas that are bought and sold as genuine online.

“A lot of it’s China. They’re horrible for my industry. They ship in fake coins every day” said Garvin, who has collected coins for 42 years. “We’ve had people spend thousands of dollars, and they walk in here with stuff they bought on eBay that’s no good.”

Garvin said someone brought in the same type of coin last week, and he was able to conclude in just a few minutes that it was a fake. He does see plenty of true ancient coins come through his shop’s door, but many are destined to join the company in Garvin’s behind-the-desk box.

“You’re much more likely to find a fake in Traverse City lying on the ground than you are to find a real one,” Garvin said. “There are certain telltales for the fakes. They always get something wrong.”

Richmond said the police department will keep the coin in evidence. If it is not claimed within six months, the person who found it can claim it. If that person does not claim it, Richmond said the coin is likely to be destroyed.

Recommended for you