COATESVILLE >> As a driver for ROVER, Danny Johnson gets to know a lot of people. Most are friendly. But one person he developed a close bond with was an elderly man who had never driven a vehicle.
Johnson would often take the man out to the grocery store or to any other errands he had. One morning a few months ago, Johnson went to his house in Coatesville and saw the 87-year-old lying on the floor.
“I saw him and I asked him how long he had been lying on the floor,” Johnson said. “He didn’t answer.
The Chester County coroner estimated he had been dead for 36 to 40 hours. The man’s relatives, who were from New York City, retrieved all of the valuables in the small house. They allowed Johnson to have what they didn’t want, most of which was worth very little.
“He always said that his storage container had things of value,” Johnson said. “(The family) went through the storage container and took what they wanted and left the rest for me.”
Little did the family know they left Johnson with the jackpot.
Among the items left for Johnson was a small antique cherry table. Johnson took it, and brought it to his house in Chester Springs, where it sat for five months.
Johnson took much of the items given to him, including an antique sewing machine, and an antique china cabinet, to Brandywine Consignment in Downingtown. The cherry table was to be taken there as well.
“I picked up the table and the legs dropped a fraction of an inch,” Johnson said. “When I turned the table upside-down to tighten the threaded bolt in the slotted bracket, I heard a clunk. The drawers were empty. When I turned it back up after tightening the bolt, I heard another clunk. I pulled the drawers out. Back behind the drawer that I pulled all the way out was this wax paper-type bag taped to the back of a drawer.”
Inside of that wax paper bag was the Holy Grail of coins - an 1854 Arrows Liberty Seated Quarter, one of only about a dozen that still exist in the world.
“This coin was (minted) before the Civil War,” Johnson said. “I was shocked to see what it was worth.”
The particular coin Johnson has was minted for only two years.
According to a national coin collector’s site: “Seldom is a Proof of this date ever offered. It is estimated that 10 to 15 exist today. NGC Price Guide is $17,250. Proofs of with-arrows Seated Quarters are nearly non-existent. Total survival of the type is estimated to be around 20-25 coins in all grades. Undoubtedly, this fine example is a rarity that will take an important place in any high-end collection of Seated coinage.”
With inflation calculated, the quarter would have the buying power back then of 7 of today’s dollars.
The coin shows Liberty seated on a rock facing left while her right hand rests firmly above the shield of the United States. In her left hand is a pole with a Phrygian cap. On the reverse is a Heraldic eagle with denomination below, surrounded by rays.
Johnson said he has no idea whether his friend put the coin there, or even knew it was there.
“I’m just glad I turned the table over,” he said. “If I hadn’t, I would have never known about it.”
Johnson said he will visit coin dealers, but is unsure whether he will sell the coin.