Martin Backhouse, a 61 year-old piano technician, was called in by Bishop’s Castle community college in Shropshire, UK to service the school’s piano which had been out of tune for quite some time. Little did he know that the source of the trouble would be the start of a puzzling and amazing discovery.
Hidden inside the 110 year-old instrument were more than 900 gold coins originating from 1847-1915. Called sovereigns, these coins are often valued at several hundred dollars apiece, and at over 13 lbs of pure gold and silver are the largest ever gold coin find in Britain.
Backhouse can certainly fix a piano, but he has no clue what to do with a pile of old gold coins! So, Backhouse called in a specialist to assist in identifying what the value of this newly found treasure is.
“I thought ‘what’s that packaging underneath? That’s old,” says Backhouse, “Then I noticed it was very nicely stitched. I thought ‘well, that can’t be moth balls’.”
The British Museum valued the coin collection at over a half million U.S. dollars.
The finding of the coins caused a frenzy in the media and phone calls started rolling in to the Museum with claims to the fortune. None of those claims were convincing enough to the investigators at the museum so the lucky find was to be split between Backhouse and the college! The claims was deemed actual ‘treasure‘.
Not a bad payday for a routine piano repair call!