Just before Christmas, a large hoard of gold coins was found hidden in an old piano in Shropshire, England. It contains 913 gold sovereigns and half sovereigns that date from 1847 to 1915, spanning three royal reigns. Weighing over 13 pounds, the hoard has since been classified as “treasure” by Shrewsbury Coroner’s Court, which means the ownership now lies with the Crown.
The upright piano was originally purchased by two music teachers in 1906. It’s whereabouts afterwards remain unknown until 1983, when it was purchased by Graham and Meg Hemmings in the Saffron Walden area. When they moved to Shropshire last summer, they donated the piano to Bishops Castle Community College to help the school’s music students.
The piano’s newest owners had it tuned and repaired, which is when the discovery of the gold coins was made. Martin Backhouse, the piano tuner, felt that the piano’s keys were stiff, so he removed them to find the problem. Underneath the keyboard, he found seven cloth packets and one leather drawstring bag that were filled with the coins.
The value of the coin hoard will be determined by an independent Treasure Valuation Committee at the British Museum. An early estimate is that the cache is worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Backhouse and the college will share a finder’s reward. Though many people have attempted to lay claim to the hoard, the original owner has not been found. The coins will eventually be offered for sale to museums.
Backhouse said his reward money will go to his children, though he might retire early. The Hemmings have expressed their happiness that the reward money will go to the college as well, adding their hope that it will be used to benefit the music program.
It’s a rare day that one finds a cache of coins stashed inside an old piano. However, you can celebrate your love of precious metals and music with the Austrian Gold Philharmonic, produced by the world renowned Austrian Mint.