Decades-old coin collection discovered during renovation of B.C. home

A collection of coins stored in a ceiling for safe keeping in the 1990s was discovered during a recent renovation and returned to their rightful owners years after they moved out of their Maple Ridge, B.C. residence.

City carpenter Mark Christiansen was finishing renovations on the city-owned earlier in 2017 when he made the discovery, which also include a century-old First World War pin.

“I was replacing some old paneling on the basement ceiling when I noticed a rattling sound,” said Christiansen. “I pulled the paneling off carefully and lifted out an old gold cookie tin that was sealed with duct tape from above the ceiling. The tin was quite heavy and when I removed the tape and opened the lid I discovered a large collection of coins.”

DIGGING DEEPER

Because there were small labels on some of the coins, Christiansen realized someone had “stashed these away for safe keeping.” He then brought the items to his boss, David Boag, at city hall.

“David and I figured that Darrell Denton, who manages the city’s properties, might be able to help track down the owners of the coins.”

By using the names from the labels on the coins, looking at the various year-dates and matching the names on a title search, Denton was able to pinpoint the most likely owners of the coins.

“I left a message on the voicemail of Sharon and Alf Mintha asking if they had left anything stored away in the basement of their old home,” Denton said. “I got a call back from Sharon very quickly and she had all the details of the tin and other collectables. I knew that we had found our owners. We arranged to meet them at city hall to return the collection.”

RETURNED TO RIGHTFUL OWNERS

On Dec. 15, the Minthas met with Denton and Christiansen for the return of their family treasures.

City staff assumed the coins’ labels might be the name of the Mintha’s grandchildren; however, the reality was more heartwarming.

“We were so excited when we got the call from Darrell. Alf put the coins up in the ceiling in the 1990s for safe keeping,” said Sharon Mintha, who added the names were indeed the names of their son and daughter.

“Those coins were gifts from my father, their grandfather. The kids were young so we put the coins away for them.”

‘WHAT INTEGRITY YOU HAVE’

When Mintha met Christiansen, she asked him for a hug. Christiansen said his first thoughts were to get these coins back to the owner.

“What integrity you have,” she said, adding that she and her husband would resist the urge to tell their family about this discovery because her daughter, who now lives in France, is returning on Boxing Day.

“We are having a family gathering that evening and Alf and I will be presenting the children with these coins, gifts from my father, at that time,” she said. “My dad has passed away, so these gifts have even more meaning.”

Soon after, the couple surprised their children with the discovery.

“We came home from meeting you all, and sat at the kitchen table for the longest time just looking at everything. We found something that is very dear to me. It is a pin given to my grandfather by the Canadian Government. It says ‘For Service at the Front.’ He was at Vimy Ridge during all the action.”

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