A mysterious hoard of gold coins has been discovered hidden in a piano in Shropshire and a local coroner now needs to determine whether it is “treasure”. The British Museum, which administers the Portable Antiquities Scheme, describes the find as “substantial”.
The gold was recently discovered by a tuner inside a Broadwood upright piano which had originally been sold in 1906 by a musical instruments shop in Saffron Walden, Essex. The ownership of the piano for most of the 20th century remains untraced, but after a house clearance in 1983 it was bought by a local family. The piano now belongs to a community group in south west Shropshire (roughly 150 miles from Saffron Walden), which was given it as a donation.
The discovery of the gold was reported to the authorities and the coins were deposited at the Ludlow Museum Resource Centre last month (December 2016). The case is now being examined by the Shropshire Coronor’s Office to determine if it falls under the 1996 Treasure Act. To be declared “treasure”, and therefore belong to the Crown, the gold would need to have been deliberately concealed and for the original owner to remain untraced.
The coroner is therefore interested to know whether there are any potential claimants, and after an initial hearing yesterday (12 January) in Shrewsbury the inquest was adjourned until 16 March, to allow anyone to come forward. If declared treasure, a museum would be able to buy the coins, with a reward payable to both the current owner of the piano and the finder.