Los Angeles, CA

Discovering a Fortune: California Family Uncovers 1 Million Copper Pennies in Historic Los Angeles Home

Shaq Writes

A California family is trying to figure out what to do with 1 million pennies discovered in the crawlspace of a loved one’s home.Photo by(John Reyes)

Cleaning out a historic home in the Pico-Union neighbourhood of Los Angeles turned into a remarkable journey for one California family. John Reyes, a realtor from the Inland Empire, and his wife stumbled upon an astonishing find while going through her late father's former residence. Tucked away in a basement crawlspace, they discovered over 1 million pennies made of valuable copper. This unexpected windfall presents a unique challenge for the family as they navigate the question of what to do with such an extraordinary treasure.

Unearthing a Hidden Legacy:

A Glimpse into the Past:

The home, constructed in the early 1900s, carries a rich history. Believed to have served as a bed and breakfast in its prime, it was the long-time dwelling of John's father-in-law, Fritz, and his brother, German immigrants who called the house their home for decades. However, with Fritz's passing and his brother's departure, it was time for the next generation to take charge of preserving the family legacy.

A Daunting Cleanup Mission:

The task of cleaning the family home proved to be a laborious endeavour, given the sheer volume of belongings amassed over the years. Reyes describes how the family painstakingly sifted through an abundance of items, ranging from significant to seemingly trivial. Devoting several years to this project, they strived to ensure every nook and cranny received thorough attention, making way for future renovations.

A Surprising Discovery:

Delving into the Depths:

As the family embarked on their meticulous cleaning mission, they encountered an unexpected turn of events in the basement. In the tight confines of the crawlspace, they stumbled upon loose pennies, their paper rolls disintegrated from years of dwelling underground. This initial find led them on a captivating journey, unravelling a trail of crates and boxes, ultimately revealing numerous bank bags filled with pennies from bygone eras.

A Forgotten Fortune:

Amidst their excitement, they soon realized the enormity of their newfound treasure. Hundreds of thousands of pennies, each bag weighing several pounds, required extraction from the crawlspace. The family carefully selected three bags, verifying that the pennies were made of valuable copper rather than the later zinc composition introduced by the United States in the 1980s. Engaging in rough calculations based on bag weight, they estimated a staggering total of at least 1 million pennies.

Deciding the Fate of a Million Pennies:

A Dilemma to Solve:

The Reyes family faced a pressing question: what does one do with such an enormous quantity of pennies? Initially considering the option of using a Coinstar machine to convert the pennies into cash, they quickly dismissed the idea due to the 8% fee and the impracticality of transporting them to Ontario. Exploring alternatives, they reached out to various banks in Los Angeles, hoping to find a willing partner.

Seeking a Fair Resolution:

Their quest to find a suitable institution encountered obstacles, with some banks expressing reluctance to accept such a massive quantity of coins. However, determined to obtain fair value for their unique find, the family persevered. Even their local bank in San Bernardino County suggested sorting through the pennies for potential rarities. Although intrigued by the prospect, the Reyes family remained committed to finding a buyer who could appreciate the collection's true worth.

The Quest for a Buyer:

Showcasing the Collection:

To attract potential buyers, John Reyes turned to OfferUp, a widely-used resale platform, to list the impressive collection. Seeking an asking price of $25,000, which exceeds the face value of $10,000 in regular currency, they hope to secure an appropriate buyer who recognizes the collection's intrinsic value. While receiving partial offers for portions of the pennies, the family seeks an all-encompassing solution to relieve themselves of the responsibility.

Value Beyond Face Worth:

The Reyes family emphasizes that the true value of their collection lies in its uniqueness. Rather than settling for the mere copper value, they aim to find a buyer who appreciates the historical significance and the potential for rare and valuable coins within the collection. Reflecting the strong-willed nature of Fritz, they remain steadfast in their pursuit of a fair and mutually beneficial transaction.

A Testament to Legacy:

Continuing the Legacy:

Fritz and his brother, driven by their understanding of the importance of metals and materials, strategically accumulated copper pennies during their working years. Recognizing the potential for generational wealth, Fritz made wise investments, leaving behind a remarkable legacy. John Reyes now endeavours to honour his father-in-law's foresight, ensuring that their diligent efforts are rewarded, despite the challenges faced along the way.

Seizing the Opportunity:

For those with the means, desire, and an optimistic spirit, the Reyes family eagerly awaits offers. However, interested parties should bear in mind the logistical challenge of transporting the vast collection themselves. The opportunity to acquire this unique assortment of copper pennies presents a chance to own a piece of history and potentially discover numismatic treasures hidden within.


Discovering a cache of over 1 million copper pennies in a Los Angeles home has brought both excitement and challenges to the Reyes family. As they diligently clean and renovate the historic property, they seek to find a suitable buyer who recognizes the true value of their remarkable find. This captivating story serves as a testament to the enduring nature of family legacy and the potential for unexpected fortunes to be unearthed in the most unlikely of places.

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