TRENTON, N.J. -- George Washington's wallet was returned to New Jersey on Monday, almost three weeks after it disappeared from a display case at the Old Barracks Museum.
But the owners, who have not been identified and who had loaned it to the museum, are out roughly $1.66 in colonial currency. Two bills, one worth two-thirds of a dollar and printed in 1776 and a 1779 dollar bill, were in the wallet when it was stolen and missing when it was returned.
The wallet was returned by Eric Davis, a Doylestown, Pa., lawyer, who said he was acting on behalf of a client who wishes to remain anonymous. The lawyer has said his client did not steal the wallet.
Davis picked the day George Washington's birthday is celebrated as a suitable occasion for the return.
The Old Barracks near the State House housed British and Hessian soldiers when Washington crossed the Delaware from Pennsylvania in 1776 and launched a surprise attack while the enemy troops were sleeping off a Christmas celebration. The Battle of Trenton, a victory for the Colonial troops after a string of defeats, was one of the turning points of the Revolutionary War.
The wallet was on loan to the museum, which also has a letter attesting to Washington's having owned it. Director Cynthia Koch said that without the letter the wallet was basically 'just a really old wallet in pretty bad condition.'
The loss was discovered Jan. 28. Someone apparently lifted a plexiglass cover on an exhibit case and simply walked off with the wallet.
The owners offered a $500 reward for return of the wallet, no questions asked. State Police spokesman John Hagerty said the reward has been paid.
But Hagerty said the state police still have some questions, and the investigation is continuing. After all, they are the ones who have had to field several weeks of telephone calls from pranksters.