(VitalNews.org) – A couple from California made a surprise discovery when clearing out the house of a deceased relative. John and Elizabeth Reyes, from the Inland Empire area of Greater Los Angeles, found a million copper pennies while cleaning Elizabeth’s late father’s house. Dozens of bags, some labeled with the names of now defunct banks, were found stuffed into a small crawlspace in the house’s basement.
The house, which dates from the early 1900s, is believed by the family to have been a former bed and breakfast and was home to Elizabeth’s father, Fritz, and his brother. Both men were first-generation German immigrants who believed in the value of precious metals. Pennies made in the USA were made of pure copper up until 1943 when the Second World War meant that copper was needed for the war effort. At this point, pennies began to be manufactured with increasing amounts of zinc, until they were almost entirely zinc by 1982.
The secret stash is estimated to have a face value of $10,000, although according to the family’s calculations, that value may be nearer to $1,000,000. Despite these appealing figures, actually exchanging the coins for their cash value has presented some difficulties.
After spending a full day lugging each bank bag from the house to the Reyes’ car, they found the weight was so great that they could only drive in the slow lane. The manager of a local Wells Fargo bank informed the couple that there was not enough room in the bank’s vault to take such a large collection of coins. John Reyes considered using a Coinstar machine to exchange the coins but was put off by the 8% fee and the machine’s limited capacity.
The family has also raised the question of whether there may be rare and much higher value coins in amongst the bags. Given that they do not wish to spend the necessary hours or days picking through and checking each individual penny, they have decided to sell the coins for a flat cost of $25,000 via the resale app, OfferUp.
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