22 March, 2017

A thorough search of any average home and you’re sure to find a host of coins hidden under sofa cushions, behind furniture or tucked away for “safekeeping” and forgotten about.

You can imagine the surprise when a piano’s new owners decided to retune it only to find a collection of gold sovereign coins stashed inside.

The discovery was made just before Christmas but the coins have since been deposited at Ludlow Museum Resource Centre before an inquest in Shrewsbury heard that the oldest coin within the group was made in 1847, and the youngest in 1915.

The collection consists of an undisclosed number of full and half sovereigns and experts believe the coins may have been “deliberately hidden” and could yield a “life-changing” sum of money, with a full sovereign worth at least £220.

This inquest has brought the discovery back into the public eye and will decide whether the discovery can be declared treasure or if its owner or their heirs cannot be traced then the coins are to be declared the property of the Crown.

Shrewsbury Coroner’s Court heard senior coroner John Ellery recounts how the piano, made by Broadwood & Sons of London, was initially sold to Messrs Beavan and Mothersole of Saffron Walden, Essex, in 1906.

But its ownership from then until 1983 – when it was purchased by a family in the area who later moved to Shropshire – is unknown and the coroner is now deferring the conclusion of the inquest while they seek information about its whereabouts between 1906 and 1983.

The objects will qualify as treasure and be the property of the Crown if the coroner finds they have been hidden with the intent of future recovery.

However, if the original owner or their heirs can establish their title to the find, the Crown’s claim will be void.

The inquest will resume and conclude on 20 April.