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Fun on Friday: Probably Not the Best Place to Store Your Gold

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If you are a longtime follower of SchiffGold news, you may recall that back in 2016, a piano tuner in Shropshire England discovered 13 pounds of gold stashed inside a piano. At the time, I said the story should be filed under the category of “worst places to store your gold.” I haven’t changed my mind on that, by the way.

Anyway, this week, there was a story about this find that updates some of the details.

Bishops Castle Community College received the piano as a donation in the summer of 2016 and sent the instrument over to Martin Backhouse for maintenance and tuning the following year. When he opened it up, he spotted some odd pouches stacked neatly under the keyboard. When he slit open the stitching on one of the pouches, he found gold coins. All told, there were 913 gold sovereigns and half-sovereigns minted in the 19th and early 20th centuries stuffed inside the piano.

Blackhouse’s recollection of the moment he found the gold was a stereotypically British understatement. He told the AP he saw the coins and thought, “Ooh, it looks like there’s rather a lot of gold in this.”

We now know that the gold was valued at £500,000. That’s about $700,835.

So, who stashed the treasure inside the piano? And for heaven’s sake why?

We’ll probably never know.

Graham and Meg Hemmings owned the piano for 33 years before donating it to the college. Sucks to be them because they had no idea they were sitting on a fortune.

Efforts to locate the gold’s owner proved fruitless. Coroner John Ellery investigated the coins, searched for the owner, and eventually declared it treasure. On Thursday he told the AP that despite a thorough investigation and a public appeal for information, “we simply do not know” who concealed the coins.

On a side-note, I don’t understand why the coroner is involved in this. Who died?

Regardless, “treasure” is actually a legal term in England. A treasure is made of gold or silver and deliberately hidden by the owner with a view to later recovery, and its owners, or heirs or successors, remained unknown.

According to the Classic FM story, about 50 people showed up to lay claim to the treasure, “but no true claimant was found.” In other words, 50 people lied their butts off trying to get their hands on the gold. That’s kind of sleazy. But really, can you blame them?

Sadly, the government, or the crown as the Brits call it, gets to keep the gold. A sad lesson – government always wins. But the school and Backhouse did get to split a reward. So, that’s nice.

Anyway, there is a lesson here. You need to be careful where you store your gold. And you might want to cross piano off your list of good hiding spots.

Storing precious metals is always a tricky business. Needless to say, inside a piano probably isn’t the best spot. It’s slightly better than burying gold in your backyard, but not much. If you want to keep your precious metals at home, we recommend a high-quality safe. But for added security, and for large amounts of gold and silver, off-site vault storage may provide better protection for your investment. SchiffGold has relationships with the world’s finest professional storage services. These secure vault facilities are strategically located around the world and have excellent reputations.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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About The Author

Michael Maharrey is the managing editor of the SchiffGold blog, and the host of the Friday Gold Wrap Podcast and It's Your Dime interview series.
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