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Treasure Trove Law 

In the United States, there is a treasure trove law that states that a treasure trove goes to the finder. That is unless the finder is trespassing. In that case, the finder that is trespassing, and finds a treasure then has to give the treasure to the owner.

What is a Treasure Trove?

Treasure trove means refined gold and, or silver. It can either be bullion or made into coin. Paper money is also treasure trove. Treasure trove has also been referred to as “treasure that has been found.”

Antiquity or the age of a treasure is also taken into consideration for a treasure trove. Meaning that usually, and for instance, any money, or treasure found must have been hidden, secluded or, lost for a long period of time, and the owner was unlikely to recover it.

I will state here that I am not an attorney. My explanation of my understanding of the treasure trove law is based on many years of experience of metal detecting and treasure hunting. My interpretation of this law is also founded on the fact that I have read and researched the treasure trove laws for years. These laws are complex, and they differ for each State.

Common Law and Civil Law

In the United States, there are two laws that deal with treasure trove, the common law, and civil law. 

The civil law states that any treasure found on someone's personal property becomes the property of the finder. However, if by chance a treasure is found on the property of someone else, then the treasure is divided 50/50 between the finder and the property owner. Three types of property fall under the treasure trove rules.

Abandoned Property

Abandoned property is property that the owner discards, or voluntarily gives up its possession. This type of property is given to the first person that finds it.

Lost Property

Lost property is property that an owner involuntarily loses due to carelessness. In addition, the owner has no knowledge of where the lost property is. In the case of lost property, the finder receives title to the property, unless the true owner is located and comes forward.

Mislaid Property

Mislaid property is when a property owner intentionally sets aside property and then later forgets where it is, or completely forgets about it.

Many states agree that the treasure trove rule is for the finder to receive any treasure found. Many of us have heard of the age-old finders keepers rule. 

However, be aware that the law of treasures becomes more complicated when treasures are found on Federal or State lands.

All States follow two Federal Laws, the Antiquity Act, and ARPA. These laws do not allow anyone to remove an item from the ground that is 100 years old or older. Any treasures found on those lands would then be deemed of archaeological significance, and hence the two laws would then take place.

State Treasure Trove Law 

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Louisiana and Puerto Rico – follows civil law: Under the civil law, treasure found on one’s own land goes to the finder, and if it is found by chance on the land of another it is split half to the finder, and half to the landowner.

Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Follows the Treasure Trove Rule, that the find goes to the finder.

Texas does not follow the treasure rule that the find goes to the finder.

Tennessee and Idaho follow the rule that any treasure found belongs to the “locus” owner. Which means "the place in which."

Michigan does not adopt the treasure trove rule. Instead, it relies on whatever State statutes exist.

New Jersey’s rule gives buried or hidden property in the locus owner. Also, NJ gives lost property found by a trespasser to the locus owner.

Indiana gives treasure found to the county.

Vermont gives it to the township.

Maine wants the finder of a treasure to give half the value to the township. The finder receives the other half.

California treasure trove law says that if you find property worth $100 or more, and the owner is unknown, then the property must be given to the police in the locale it was found. If the police locate the owner, the owner then receives the property. If the owner does not claim the property after 90 days, and the property is worth more than $250, the police must make a public announcement to try to find the owner. After seven days, if the owner does not claim the property, then the finder keeps the property. If the property is worth less than $250, the finder can keep it after 90 days.

The treasure trove meaning has been used when items are found in these areas.

My Special Bundle Package of digital books and the links to my TV series is loaded with information that will guide you toward treasures large and small.

Buried Treasure Books

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Thank You,
Frank W. Pandozzi, Website Owner


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