Some lives were changed recently:
(Mercury News) — 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 Shropshire 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. The couple who owned the piano for three decades before donating it to the 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.
The 913 gold coins which were found in a piano, are displayed at Ludlow Museum in Ludlow, England Thursday April 20, 2017, where they are being kept under lock and key.
The hoard was discovered last year when the piano was sent for tuning. 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.
Piano tuner Martin Backhouse said when he found the pouches and slit open the stitching, he thought: “Ooh, it looks like there’s rather a lot of gold in this.”
The hoard, which weighs 13 pounds, has not been formally valued. But Peter Reavill of the British Museum has said it is worth a “potentially life-changing” amount.
Revenue from items declared “treasure” is generally split between the owner — in this case, Bishops Castle Community College — and the finder.
The piano was owned for 33 years by Graham and Meg Hemmings, who donated it last year to the school close to their home, near the Welsh border about 45 miles west of Birmingham. Meg Hemmings said she’s not bitter at missing out on treasure that was right under her nose.
“The sadness is, it’s not a complete story,” she said. “They’ve looked and searched for the people and they unfortunately haven’t come forward.
The tank came into possession of Nick Mead, a tank collector and owner of Tanks Alot, a company that offers tanks and other armored vehicles for driving classes, private events, and television and film appearances. Mead found the tank, an ex-Iraqi Army Type 69, on sale on eBay and traded it for an Abbot self-propelled howitzer and a British Army truck.
Mead and his mechanic, Todd Chamberlain, were filming the opening of the fuel tank because they had already found machine gun ammunition in the armored vehicle and wanted video proof in case more ammunition was found. They pulled out five gold bars weighing about twelve pounds worth an estimated $2.4 million. The gold was handed over to authorities, and Mead has placed a receipt for the bars of bullion in a safe deposit box.
There are two ways to react to such stories. The first is from the point of view of the finder, which is obviously “AWESOME!!!”
The second is to consider the person who hid the gold in the first place and realize what a horrendous failure it represents. Someone saves for a lifetime (or audaciously steals or otherwise acquires real wealth), and rather than trusting the banking/currency system, hides that wealth in physical form, either for their own future enjoyment or their descendants’ security. This kind of wealth really can change the course of many future generations.
But they made a big mistake. They didn’t tell anyone, or they told the wrong person, or they failed to plan for some other event that broke the link between gold hoard and owner/beneficiary. And so the gold is lost until found by strangers.
This is both profoundly sad and an object lesson for anyone who hears and takes to heart the idea that “gold in hand” is the only truly safe way to store real wealth. Because while true in theory, it involves serious challenges in practice. How, for instance, do you hide gold and silver so that it’s both undetectable by the wrong people and accessible to the right ones? Whom do you tell so that it will never be stolen but also never lost and forgotten?
These are questions with different answers for every situation. But they have to be asked and correctly answered for gold in hand to be truly safe.