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.


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


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.