A coroner is to consider whether a large hoard of gold coins found hidden in an old piano can be classed as treasure. The stash of sovereigns, some dating to Queen Victoria’s reign, were discovered when the instrument’s new owners decided to have it re-tuned. The Shropshire coroner is convening a treasure inquest in Shrewsbury, on Thursday, which is expected to determine the coins’ fate.
Experts have already described the hoard, featuring coins dating from the late 19th century to 1915, as a “stunning” find. In the early part of the last century, the piano was sold to a music shop in Saffron Walden, Essex, and then sold on to a local family. More recently through private sale the instrument, made in 1906, made its way to Shropshire where the discovery of coins was made by the latest owners in December 2016.
Peter Reavill, of the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, said: “The current owners did not know what to do but they came to the museum and they laid it all out on the table.
“They laid this stuff out and I was like “whoa”. “I’m an archaeologist and I’m used to dealing with treasure but I’m more used to medieval brooches. “I have never seen anything like that.
“It’s a stunning assemblage of material.”
Since the discovery was made, a search has been under way to trace the relatives of whoever put the coins in the upright Broadwood & Sons-made piano. If the descendants can be traced they have a claim but if not, and the coins are held to be treasure, they become the property of the Crown. A hearing in March was adjourned by the coroner to allow for more time for potential claimants to come forward.
Gold sovereigns vary in value but today’s freshly-stamped coins can be bought through The Royal Mint and approved dealers for about £245.
Good-quality examples of First World War-era sovereigns can go for £375 each.
UPDATE Shropshire piano gold coin hoard declared treasure