October 5, 2022

The Indie Toaster

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While renovating the house, the family finds a fortune buried under the kitchen

A couple became millionaires after discovering a treasure trove of 260 British gold coins buried in their home. They were under the kitchen floor of the property they bought. The stones, about 300 years old, were hidden in a small metal container.

Inside was £100,000 worth of gold – in today’s money – but as they are numismatic relics of Britain’s past, auctioneers believe the collection will fetch more than £250,000 – £1.3m.

The couple recently moved into an 18th-century estate house in Ellerby, North Yorkshire, England. And during a kitchen renovation, they discovered treasure from the reign of James I to George I.

Pot containing treasure buried under kitchen floor – Photo: Spink and Son

“Remarkable Treasure”

It happened two years ago, and at the time, the couple believed it was electrical wiring debris, but when they discovered the pot, their jaws dropped. There, they called in the London auctioneer Spink & Son to help appraise the mysterious glowing coins.

Auctioneer Gregory Edmond said this remarkable hoard is British archeology and has never been seen at any coin auction in living memory. He explained that the mysteriously buried £50 and £100 coins were never recovered by a wealthy former owner of the house.

And, no doubt, the property belonged to Joseph and Sarah Fearnley-Masters, one of the wealthiest families in the area.

Don’t believe in putting money in the bank

They married in 1694 and were probably the most influential merchant family in the neighborhood in the late 16th to 18th centuries. They served as importers and exporters of iron ore, timber and coal from the Baltic countries. According to auctioneer Edmond, their burial of the coins shows that the Fernley-Masters were wary of the newly formed Bank of England, as they chose to hide many of the coins from before the English Civil War.

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And some stand out. There is a George I guinea from 1720, without the king’s head. Another gold coin was from Brazil and was minted in 1720. It was circulating under ban in England at the time.

The treasury contains gold coins dating back nearly 300 years – Photo: Spink and Son

Bid

Incidentally, under the Treasury Act of 1996, any gold or silver coin minted before 300 years becomes government property and is purchased from the finder at fair market value for placement in a museum.

All but one of the coins were minted around 292 years ago and were put up for auction as they were not exchequer.

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