The 'Piano Hoard'

Published: Thursday 12th January 2017 Author:

An inquest was opened today by H.M. Senior Coroner, Mr. John Ellery at Shrewsbury Coroner's Court, in relation to a substantial find of potential Treasure recently discovered within a piano in South West Shropshire. The find was swiftly reported by the new owners of the piano and was deposited at Ludlow Museum Resource Centre / Shropshire Museums before Christmas. The coroner commends all parties who have to date provided him with valuable information and co-operation in this case.

The finds are highly unusual in nature being substantially made of gold and appear to have been deliberately hidden within the last 110 years. An inquest has been opened to determine whether the hoard qualifies as Treasure under the terms defined by the Treasure Act (1996).

For a hoard less than 300 years old to be Treasure, it must be:

1.Substantially made of gold or silver

2.Deliberately concealed by the owner with a view to later recovery

3.The owner, or his or her present heirs or successors, must be unknown

The inquest will be resumed and concluded at the Shrewsbury Coroner's Court on the

16th day of March 2017.

Anyone with any information about the original owners of the piano and/or of the potential treasure, their heirs or successors, should provide this in writing to Mr. Ellery at the Coroner's Office for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin at the Shirehall, Abbey Foregate Shrewsbury SY2 6ND.

The Coroner will require evidence about:

-the nature of the find (i.e. what it comprises);
-how, when, where and why the find was concealed
-evidence upon which they can be sure of the ownership by any potential claimant.

All other enquiries regarding the case should be made in the first instance to Peter Reavill, Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire, British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme. c/o Ludlow Museum Resource Centre, 7-9 Parkway, Ludlow Shropshire SY8 2PG Tel: 01743 25 4748 Email: peter.reavill@shrophire.gov.uk

Thereis no penalty for mistaken claims made in good faith but any false claims may be reported to the police for consideration of any offences disclosed

Peter Reavill
Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire,
British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme.
12th January 2017

Notes for editors

The cache of items were deliberately hidden within an upright piano made by Broadwood & Sons of London and sold to a music establishment in Essex in 1906. The enterprise which purchased the piano has been traced to a shop or wholesaler of music / musical instruments which was owned by Messrs. Beavan & Mothersole of 27, West Road, Saffron Walden.

The recent history of the piano has been traced to around 1983 where it was purchased by a local family in Saffron Walden area.

The cache of gold items were reported to Peter Reavill, Finds Liaison Officer for the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme based with Shropshire Museums. The objects will qualify as 'Treasure' under the terms of the Treasure Act (1996) and thus be the property of the Crown, if the coroner finds that they have been hidden with the intent of future recovery. However, if the original owner, or his or her heirs, are able to establish their title to the find, this will override the Crown's claim. The coroner has therefore suspended the inquest until early March 2016 in order to allow possible claimants to come forward.

Full information about the size, nature and value of the cache will be revealed at the subsequent inquest in March and has been deliberately withheld to allow the coroner to make all necessary enquiries.

Contacts:

Peter Reavill, Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire, British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme / Birmingham Museums Trust. c/o Ludlow Museum Resource Centre, 7-9 Parkway, Ludlow Shropshire SY8 2PG 01743 25 4748 peter.reavill@shropshire.gov.uk

Ian Richardson, Treasure Registrar, British Museum, London WC1B 3DG, tel.: 020 7323 8611, e-mail: irichardson@britishmuseum.org

Michael Lewis, Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, British Museum, tel: 020 7323 8611; e-mail: mlewis@britishmuseum.org

Contact: Ian Richardson 02073238611

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