During a kitchen renovation in 2019, the owners of an 18th-century home discovered a collection of over 260 gold coins that could fetch $290,000 at auction in October 2022.
According to a press release from Spink & Son, a London-based auction and collectibles company, “almost every coin represents the ‘pound piece’ of its day and it is one of the largest hoards of 18th century English gold coins ever found in Britain.”
The coins, which span the reigns of King James I through King George I, were found in a salt-glazed cup under concrete and floorboards of a house being renovated in North Yorkshire. The cup was “no bigger than a soft-drink can,” the press release stated.
Dating from 1610 to 1727, the coins have about £100,000, or more than $115,120, worth of spending power today.
“It is a wonderful and truly unexpected discovery from so unassuming a find location,” Gregory Edmund, senior specialist and auctioneer at Spink & Son, said in the press release.
“It is an enormous privilege to share in this wonderful find and explore this hoard for the benefit of future generations,” he said, adding that the gold coins, dubbed the “Ellerby Area Hoard,” will be up for bidding on October 7 this year.
The coins likely belonged to a mercantile family, the Fernley-Maisters, who held influence from the late 16th to 18th centuries. The family made their wealth as importers and exporters of iron ore, timber, and coal from the Baltic, and some family members served in Parliament in the early 1700s, according to the press release.
“The family line dies out soon after and presumably is the reason the coins were never recovered,” the press release noted. According to the auction house, Joseph and Sarah, the couple to whom the coins belonged, died in 1725 and 1745, respectively.
Distrusting the bank
“Joseph and Sarah clearly distrusted the newly-formed Bank of England, the ‘banknote’ and even the gold coinage of their day because they choose to hold onto so many coins dating to the English Civil War and beforehand”.Edmund
Spink & Son said the coins narrowly missed out on being considered treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act because they were found in 2019. According to the act, two or more coins made of gold and 300 years or older qualify as “an archaeological hoard,” the press release explained.
Despite the discovery of the gold coins being “the stuff of dreams,” Edmund said the gold coins themselves are not “mindblowing,” because “they simply reflect the £50 and £100 coins of day-to-day exchange buried and mysteriously never recovered by their wealthy owner.”