Monday, 18 October 2010

Hackney gardeners dig up hoard of American gold coins

This has to be one of the weirdest items to be considered as potential Treasure... In Hackney in east London gardeners have dug up a hoard of 80 large gold coins of the United States of America (Dalya Alberge, Hackney gardeners dig up hoard of American gold coins', 18.10.10). The coins are gold $20 “Double Eagle” pieces dating from 1854 to 1913 which are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to collectors. Portable Antiquities Scheme Director Dr Roger Bland was interviewed by the London Standard, he went for the "unsolved mystery" trope this time: “There is a huge mystery about who might have buried the coins. It's wonderful to speculate. Who buries so many gold coins?” The find was announced by Inner North London coroner Dr Andrew Scott Reid, saying that 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.
If no living owner is forthcoming, a Treasure inquest will be held. If the coins are declared Treasure, they will become Crown property and will be valued. Hackney Museum wants to acquire them and the money paid would be split between the land owner and the finders. But the question is who will be footing the bill so Hackney Museum can exhibit these coins? What in fact do they tell us about the history of Hackney? Are there no other things Hackney could better spend money on? What are these "Treasures acquired for the nation" for?

It is to be noted that since the finders were people who stumbled across them by accident and not Treasure seeking searchers going out equipped to find metal Treasures, the article does not praise them roundly for their "responsibility" in reporting them promptly to the PAS. I suppose there are different kinds of responsibility those of "finders" and those of "seekers".

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