Philip Mernick passed along this article about an old hoard of U.S. gold coins found in an unusual place - a garden in East London.
A valuable hoard of American gold coins has been unearthed in an east London garden — one of Britain's most curious treasure finds.
Buried hoards are discovered every so often, but their Anglo-Saxon, Viking or Roman owners were themselves interred long ago. Whoever hid the 80 coins from the 19th and early 20th centuries may be alive. Why they chose the garden of a residential block in Hackney is a mystery.
Archaeologists more used to deciphering which Roman emperor is depicted on a coin have been taken aback by the find — gold $20 “Double Eagle” pieces dating from 1854 to 1913 and minted mostly in San Francisco and Philadelphia. Estimates put the value at hundreds of thousands of pounds. The coins, so large that each one weighs 33 grams, go on show at the Museum of London tomorrow.
They were uncovered by two residents who decided to do gardening with a couple of friends. A spade hit something hard. Expecting to remove a brick or a rock, they found themselves staring at glistening gold. One finder, interested in archaeology, alerted the Museum of London, which contacted the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the British Museum.
Scheme head Dr Roger Blandtold the Standard: “There is a huge mystery about who might have buried the coins. It's wonderful to speculate. Who buries so many gold coins?”
Today Inner North London coroner Dr Andrew Scott Reid, announcing the find, said the original owner had until next spring to come forward. The finders are remaining anonymous and the find's location is not being released to discourage false claims. An ill-gotten gain has to be possible and police records are being checked.
To read the complete article, see:
Hackney gardeners dig up hoard of American gold coins
On Wednesday Philip added:
Roger Bland, Head of Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has forwarded me this press release giving a lot more detail. They are withholding some information, such as container (if any) and burial site, to help confirm if any claimant is genuine.
The whole group is currently on display in the British Museum (room 41) and not Museum of London, as reported by the Evening Standard.
I saw them today and took some photographs. I only photographed the coins themselves; they were part of a display about the portable antiquities scheme.
Many thanks to Philip for his efforts on behalf of E-Sylum readers. Below is some of the text of the press release and one of Philip's photos of the British Museum exhibit.
Anyone with any information about the original owners of the coins, their heirs or successors, should provide this to the Treasure Registrar, the British Museum. The Museum will require evidence about how, when, where and why the coins were concealed and evidence upon which they can be sure of the ownership by any potential claimant.
Dr Barrie Cook of the British Museum (Department of Coins and Medals) reports:
“The 80 coins are all gold 20-dollar pieces of the United States, issued between 1854 and 1913. The coins are thus all the same denomination, introduced in this form in 1850, and were struck to the same standard, 90% gold, used from 1837 until the end of US gold coinage in 1933. The catalogue shows that the coins gradually increase in number across the decades from 1870 to 1909 (13 coins from 1870-9; 14 from 1880-89; 18 from 1890-99; and 25 from 1900-9). Over a quarter of the total were issued in the last 6 six years represented. Together these factors suggest that the material began to be put aside during this later period, rather than being built up systematically across a range of time represented. The main element among this latest material are the 17 coins dating to 1908, which suggests that a single batch of coins from that year might have formed the core for the group.”
A catalogue of the hoard runs as follows:
|Date ||Mint|| Total number in find|
|1854 ||San Francisco|| 1|
|1867 ||San Francisco|| 1|
|1870 ||San Francisco|| 1|
|1875 ||Carson City|| 1|
|1875 ||San Francisco|| 1|
|1876 ||San Francisco|| 5|
|1876 ||Philadelphia|| 2|
|1877 ||San Francisco|| 2|
|1877 ||Philadelphia|| 1|
|1881 ||San Francisco|| 1|
|1882 ||San Francisco|| 2|
|1883 ||San Francisco|| 3|
|1884 ||San Francisco|| 2|
|1885 ||San Francisco|| 1|
|1888 ||San Francisco|| 4|
|1889 ||San Francisco|| 1|
|1890 ||Philadelphia|| 1|
|1891 ||San Francisco|| 1|
|1893 ||San Francisco|| 1|
|1894 ||San Francisco|| 4|
|1896 ||San Francisco|| 3|
|1898 ||San Francisco|| 4|
|1899 ||San Francisco|| 4|
|1900 ||San Francisco|| 2|
|1901 ||San Francisco|| 3|
|1902 ||San Francisco|| 2|
|1905 ||San Francisco|| 2|
|1907 ||Philadelphia|| 1|
|1908 ||Philadelphia|| 17|
|1909 ||Philadelphia|| 1|
|1910 ||Philadelphia|| 1|
|1913 ||Philadelphia|| 3|
|1913 ||Denver|| 1|
Wayne Homren, Editor
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