HomeUS CoinsInteresting? Michigan Woman Finds Stash of Notes and Coins in WWI Bomb

Interesting? Michigan Woman Finds Stash of Notes and Coins in WWI Bomb

Interesting? Michigan Woman Finds Stash of Notes and Coins in WWI Bomb

By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
Here’s something you don’t expect to see in your Google Alerts.

Last weekend, Melody Atwood, a woman from Lansing, Michigan, and her sister discovered what appeared to be a potentially dangerous piece of unexploded ordinance tucked away in a closet in their aunt’s home. The aunt, who is unnamed in the report, suffers from dementia and the two sisters were cleaning out the property.

Alarmed by the discovery, the women called the Lansing Police, who arrived onto the scene, examined the shell, and called in the Bomb Squad, who took the dangerous device away to examine it in a safe location. After x-rays were taken, the police discovered that the mortar shell was being used to store coins and paper money.

This ‘bomb bank’, it has been reported, was filled with numismatic treasure, some of it dating back to the 1800s.

But was this really an interesting find? Numismatically, no.

The images provided by the Michigan State Police and filmed by a local ABC affiliate, show a variety of beat-up 20th-century notes in denominations of $1 to $10. The grouping of coins, mostly culls or junk grades, was comprised of Buffalo and Jefferson nickels, a few About Good to Good Walking Liberty half dollars, a smattering of circulated Franklin and Kennedy halves, and a couple of cruddy Peace and Morgan dollars.

Various coins and notes found in the WWI bomb hoard
Jefferson nickels and series 1963A Federal Reserve Notes. Not exactly a hoard squirreled away since the “olden days”.
A 1776-1976 Bicentennial quarter
A 1776-1976 Bicentennial quarter

Nothing like the “Fort Knox” purported by the ABC 13 On Your Side reporter.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in the accumulation, besides the projectile piggy bank, was a Series 1914 Blue Seal $5 note, which in the condition it’s in might bring $50 to $75 at a local coin show.

Series 1914 Blue Seal $5 note among the currency found in WWI bomb
Series 1914 Blue Seal $5 note among the currency found in WWI bomb

Besides the obvious tip-offs (worn Jefferson nickels, Kennedy halves, Series 1963A $5 bills in circulated condition), the “hoard” had amongst its treasures clad half dollars, Bicentennial quarters, and (yikes!) a 50 State quarter.

50 State quarter alongside other coins and notes
The 50 State quarter alongside other coins and notes

My guess is that this stash had been put together over the years, probably starting in the 1970s as silver trickled out of change and that someone kept up with it for a spell. Sure, the sisters may not have known what to expect when they found this unusual storage device, but I’m quite confident that it wasn’t a distant relative who put this together.

In terms of explosive numismatic stories, this one’s a dud!

Charles Morgan
Charles Morgan
Charles Morgan is an award-winning numismatic author and the editor and publisher of CoinWeek.com. Along with co-author Hubert Walker, he has written for CoinWeek since 2012, as well as the "Market Whimsy" column for The Numismatist and the book 100 Greatest Modern World Coins (2020) for Whitman Publishing. From 2021-2023, Charles served as Governor of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), where he was bestowed the Glenn Smedley Award. Charles is a member of numerous numismatic organizations, including the American Numismatic Society (ANS) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG).

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  1. Did the sisters get copies of the xrays that the officials had taken before it was open. Just a question that can to my mind. I would like to see if it were my finding. Never know if there was something not mentioned.

  2. It’s a shame there weren’t any pennies. It would give a whole new meaning to the name “shell-case cents”.

    Yeah, lame. But somebody has to do it.


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