A homeless man was begging for spare change on the streets of Exeter in the U.K. when he noticed something odd about one of his coins. He asked an officer to take a look.
Panhandling is illegal in the U.K., so city officers are responsible for asking beggars to move along to shelters or other places of refuge.
However, in this case, one of the officers was stopped short by what he spotted in the man’s cup of change: a treasure that might be worth a lot of money.
Among all the coins was a 50 pence piece, which is a coin worth half a pound, similar to an American half-dollar.
But here in the U.S., you don’t see that many half-dollars circulating anymore.
They’re extremely common as currency in the U.K., and they all come stamped with Queen Elizabeth’s face.
This coin looked just like any other 50 pence piece on one side, since it was identically emblazoned with the Queen’s face.
However, the other side held a surprise: there was a rabbit printed on it!
In fact, it was a bright, colorful depiction of Peter Rabbit, one of the most beloved children’s book characters of all time.
Most 50 pence coins come with the royal shield on the back, which features a rampant lion, a rampant unicorn and the motto of the royal family.
Peter Rabbit, beloved though he may be, is not part of the royal coat of arms.
In fact, Peter got this honored spot because the coin was specially minted to commemorate a proud part of British literature.
Beatrix Potter, a famous British author and illustrator of children’s books, created dozens of beloved characters, mostly based on ordinary animals.
Her adorable creations got into all sorts of mischief, and were beautifully illustrated in pastel watercolors by Potter herself.
Just this past year, England celebrated Potter’s 150th birthday, marking the occasion with a special series of coins.
A very rare selection of coins were minted with colorful enamel that imitates Potter’s distinctive illustration style.
These coins sold for 55 pounds, or about $66, and are no longer available to buy, since they were a very limited item.
Now there’s a roaring trade going online to sell these coins, and people are asking for as much as 10,000 pounds for the rare Peter Rabbit coins.
We don’t know if any have sold for that price, but some have sold for well over 600 pounds.
While the panhandler who received the coin probably hasn’t decided exactly what to do about it, we’re hoping that his new friends on the police force might help him find a way to sell it to a collector.
Since the coins are very rare and hard to come by, we have a feeling that someone was trying to give this man a very powerful gift.
With a little bit of luck and savvy, that one coin might be enough to help him pull himself up by his bootstraps!
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