Dad Discovers $1.2 Million Gold Coin With His New Metal Detector

The day you become a father is the day you – with all your hobbies, interests, etc. – are no longer the priority. This is essentially why 52-year-old conservationist and amateur historian Michael Leigh-Mallory put his passion for metal detecting aside around the time his children were born. But now Emily (13) and Harry (10) are old enough to get in on the action, driven by their own budding passions for history and archaeology, respectively. So after years of being second to none, patriarch Leigh-Mallory decided to treat himself to a brand new metal detector – which, in turn, led him to discover the oldest gold coin in the world. ‘England.

According to The Guardian, this penny – buried about 10 centimeters below the surface of farmland in the village of Hemyock in Devon – once belonged to John de Hyden, former lord of the manor. Six months before the gold coin was first minted in North Africa by royal silversmith William of Gloucester and subsequently introduced around 1257, Lord De Hyden paid 120 grams of the precious mineral to King Henry III in order to avoid jury service and public service (relatable). He then served in a military campaign around Wales for which he would have received part of these pennies. The artifact in question is only one of eight remaining of the original 52,000; the last one would have been recovered 260 years ago.

“The next day [the new metal detector] arrived, I left in this field”, says Michael Leigh-Mallory.

“It was a beautiful sunny day, and within 15 minutes I found the coin. I knew it was gold, but I had no idea how important it was.

“It’s quite surreal, really. I’m just a normal guy who lives in Devon with his family, so it’s really a life-changing amount of money.



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After a quick visit to the British Museum, the shiny gold coin found by Michael Leigh-Mallory’s equally shiny new metal detector made its way to London’s Spinks & Sons auction house. Last week it sold for a record hammer price of £648,000 (A$1.2 million).

Leigh-Mallory has since confirmed he will split the proceeds from the sale with the landowner, setting aside his own share for the future of his children who, as mentioned, ‘show the same passion’ for English history than him.

“I really owe them for finding the piece in the first place, because they inspired me to go prospecting,” adds Michael Leigh-Mallory.

“I was an avid metal detectorist, but once I had a family, the detector ended up being buried in a closet.”

“One day my wife said to me, ‘Do you realize you promised to take the kids metal detecting.’ So I said, ‘Okay, kids, we’re going to detect.’ We found an Elizabethan coin, which got them so excited. This really ignited my passion, so I invested in a new detector.

“If it hadn’t been for the promise I made to my children to fetch, I don’t believe this gold coin would ever have been found. The fine line between discovery and loss makes this result all the more remarkable.



“It’s not about the money. It’s about finding connections to our past.

“I am touched and honored to be connected to the discovery and story brought to us by the staggering research undertaken by Spink & Sons and the wider academic community into this piece.”

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