Property I, Pages 130–131

Armory v. Delamirie

King's Bench, 1722


Plaintiff, a chimney sweeper, found a jewel and brought it to a goldsmith to be evaluated. The goldsmith, defendant, took the jewel and only gave back the setting.


Can one own an item lost or misplaced item?

Defendant's Argument:

Plaintiff was not the original owner so he had no more right than defendant did.


The finder a jewel does not gain an absolute right of ownership but does gain a right of indefinite possession.


Judgment for the plaintiff. The item is to be returned or its highest estimated value paid if it is not.