Mystery gold sovereign stash is found in piano

A hoard of more than 900 gold sovereigns have been found hidden away in a school piano in Shropshire.

The piano had been donated to the Bishop’s Castle community college in Shropshire and was found by piano technician Martin Backhouse who was re-tuning the piano after it had been donated to the school by a local couple. The couple had owned the piano for 33 years without any knowledge of its secret contents.

The precious coins had been stitched into seven cloth-bound packets and a single leather drawstring purse and had been hidden under the keys of the piano. The sovereigns date from 1847 through to 1915 and are more than 6kg of gold bullion and have been appraised to be 91.7% pure gold. Although, one of the packages of coins had been encased in cardboard from an advert for Shredded Wheat, which dates the hiding of that package to between 1926 and 1946.

Further to an extensive international appeal which failed to unearth the rightful owners or viable family claimants, coroner John Ellery ruled that the stash of gold was to be qualified as treasure and that the mystery of who initially hid the coins in the piano is unknown.

A spokesperson for the British Museum said: 'The individual coins are not particularly rare being the button coinage of the British Empire.

'However, it is the largest hoard of its type known and the find is significant from a historical perspective. The value of gold sovereigns can vary in value and high-quality examples of gold sovereigns from the first world war-era can sell for around £375 a piece.

The ownership of the coins is now with the Crown but both Mr Backhouse and the college will be entitled to a share of the proceeds, should the coins be acquired by a museum.