A 19th-century penny that miraculously saved the life of a British World War I soldier is set to go up for auction next week.
The penny belonged to Private John Trickett, who kept it in the top breast pocket of his uniform as a “poignant reminder of home” during the war, SWNS reports. While on a French battlefield fighting German forces in 1914, a German soldier shot at Trickett. The bullet hit the penny, nestled firmly in Trickett’s breast pocket, ricocheted through his nose and went out back of his ear, Maureen Coulson, Trickett’s granddaughter, said.
“Everyone in our family saw the penny and heard the story of how it saved my grandfather’s life,” Coulson said in comments obtained by SWNS. “He had to come home because of the injury. It damaged his left-hand side and left him deaf in his left ear. It also affected his balance.”
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The penny was made in 1889 and was passed on from generation to generation in Trickett’s family.
Coulson added that her grandfather’s two brothers died in World War I and he likely signed up for the war, despite being underage at the time. “We think it’s likely he signed up to serve in the army when he was underage as he looked older than he was,” she said.
Along with his British War Medal and Victory Medal, the life-saving cent will be sold on March 22 at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers. It has a pre-sale estimate of 100 to 200 British pounds ($133-$266).
Militaria expert Adrian Stevenson, who found the coin, said: “It looks to me like a pistol bullet hit the penny at close range. I’ve come across many stories of random objects saving soldiers’ lives but I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
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Trickett was honorably discharged from the Northamptonshire Regiment on Sept. 7, 1918, shortly prior to the end of the war. Approximately 40 million died during World War I, making it one of the deadliest wars in recorded history.
The 63-year-old Coulson noted that her grandfather was a “great big guy” and would go on to marry Coulson’s grandmother, Clementine. He worked as a postmaster and a switchboard operator and would become the father to 8 children, prior to his death in 1962.
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“I remember him well,” Coulson said. “It’s strange to think that, but for that penny, his children would not have been born and I wouldn’t be here.”