'Life-Changing' Treasure Found in Piano Still Perplexes

Which is good news for Bishops Castle Community College, a piano tuner
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 20, 2017 11:38 AM CDT
'Life-Changing' Treasure Found in Piano Still Perplexes
Piano tuner Martin Backhouse with the piano where he found a stash of gold, smiles in Ludlow Museum in Ludlow, England Thursday April 20, 2017.   (Richard Vernalls)

British officials say they've been unable to trace the rightful heirs to a trove of gold coins found stashed inside a piano and worth a "life-changing" amount of money. The school that owns the piano and the tuner who found the gold are now in line for a windfall after a coroner investigating the find declared it treasure. But a couple who owned the piano for three decades before donating it to their local school will likely miss out. Coroner John Ellery said Thursday that, despite a thorough investigation and a public appeal for information, "we simply do not know" who concealed the coins, discovered last year when the piano was sent for tuning in Shropshire, central England, reports the AP.

Under the keyboard—neatly stacked in hand-stitched packages and pouches—were 913 gold sovereigns and half-sovereigns minted in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The 13-pound hoard has not been formally valued. But Peter Reavill of the British Museum has said the trove is worth a "potentially life-changing" amount. Revenue from items declared "treasure" is generally split between the owner—in this case, the Bishops Castle Community College—and the finder, piano tuner Martin Backhouse. The piano was owned for 33 years by Graham and Meg Hemmings, who donated it last year to the school near their home. Investigators had determined the piano was built in London in 1906 and sold to a pair of piano teachers in Saffron Walden, eastern England, but the trail ostensibly went cold after that. (More treasure stories.)

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