Lost property is that which has been dropped by the owner, while mislaid property is that which has been put in a certain place and then forgotten.
We know what we mean in popular sense when we speak of a thing as having been "lost" and in such a sense this term is often used to include property which was put in a certain place and its whereabouts then forgotten, but this in the law is known as "mislaid" property as distinguished from lost property. To be lost, property must have accidentally dropped.
48. See Subject of Bankruptcy in this Series.
One who finds lost property becomes the owner thereof as against all the world except the true owner.
One who finds personal property which has been lost by the owner becomes the owner against all the world except the true owner no matter upon whose property the lost article was found. Thus, if A loses a diamond while walking over B's land and C finds the diamond, C is the owner as against B and all the rest of the world except A and if A does not claim the stone it becomes C's.49
An exception must be made to this rule in the case of chattels which are buried in or attached to the earth for this becomes a part of the real estate and belongs to the owner of the soil. An exception to this exception was made in early days in the case of "treasure-trove" which was gold, silver, or other coin or bullion or plate concealed in the earth and this went, as in the case of lost property, to the finder if the owner was unknown. By an early statute this rule of the common law was changed and treasure-trove vested in the crown but in this country it seems to be the law that treasure-trove belongs to the finder.
49. Hanaker v. Blanchard, 90 Pa. St. 377. In this case a domestic servant found a roll of bills on the floor of a hotel. Held: entitled to it against the owner of the hotel.
Mislaid property belongs to the owner of the place where it is mislaid as against the finder and all the rest of the world except the true owner.
If A goes into B's shop and while there lays a book upon B's counter and then departs forgetting it and C comes in and discovers the book, the title is in B as against C and all the rest of the world except A. As to A, B is bailee of the book but if A never claims it B becomes the owner as to everyone. Thus the rule in case of mislaid property is different from the rule in the case of lost property.50