The key to a good story is mystery, a golden hoard, and strange circumstances. Luckily for Martin Backhouse and a community college in the United Kingdom, their tale has it all.
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 sounding out of tune for some time. Little did he know that the source of the trouble would be the start of a puzzling discovery.
Concealed 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.
While Backhouse has experience dealing with antique instruments, his interest as an amateur archaeologist led to his careful examination and ultimate discovery.
"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 find was valued by the British Museum as over half a million US dollars, but this is where it gets really bizarre.
England loves a good detective plot, especially one embroiled in history. So it's no wonder that the biggest unearthing of Victorian gold hit the papers in a media frenzy. However, when the British Museum asked for those with any information to notify them, they found themselves in shock.
Dozens of people came forward claiming to be heirs of the true owners, however all the reports were unconvincing to investigators. As the origin of the coins are unknown, the museum officially declared the find 'treasure', meaning the proceeds of any reward will be split between Backhouse and the college.
A final clue in this mystery is a Shredded Wheat package found with the coins 11 years after their supposed collection. Perhaps there's more treasure out there just waiting to be discovered...