The most valuable hoard of gold coins to be discovered in the UK has recently been found in an antique piano by a piano tuner.
The 19th-Century sovereigns were found when a tuner was carrying out a routine inspection on the piano, which had been donated to a local school. The original owners of the instrument, Graham and Meg Hemmings, had owned the piano for 32 years, but had decided to donate it to Bishop’s Castle Community College in Shropshire, and never knew that the gold coins were concealed in the piano.
The British Museum carried out a search to trace the original owners of the hoard, with no success, although they received a number of leads. As the origin of the coins remains unknown, there is no alternative but to declare the find as treasure. The Treasure Act 1996 states that the existing owner and the finder of the treasure are permitted to share the proceeds, although the majority will go to the Crown.
The piano tuner, Martin Backhouse, will gain thousands of pounds from the find of the gold coins, valued at around £500,000. The Hemmingses will not be able to claim a reward, but are happy that the college will benefit from the find. The 913 sovereigns will be offered to the British Museum. However, the couple remain disappoint that the origins of the hoard remain unknown.
Antique furniture, like antique sofas, is often purchased by collectors, and the origin may remain a mystery, although the furniture often has a rich history.
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