When Martin Backhouse began tuning the large piano that had been donated to England’s Castle Community College, he immediately knew that something was wrong on the inside.
What he wasn’t expecting, however, was the surprise that was waiting inside for him.
Whenever Backhouse would play a note on the instrument, it became more and more clear that it wasn’t that the instrument wasn’t damaged, but that there was something inside of the piano that was affecting the sound. Backhouse decided he would check it out himself and he was shocked with what he saw: there was a whopping 900 solid gold coins sitting in it! The coins are estimated to be worth as much as $640,000.
When Backhouse revealed the treasure he had found, a debate quickly began on who was entitled to the hidden treasure. The local couple who had donated the beautiful piano or the Community College they donated it to. Before we go into that, however, we must look to the piano’s past to understand.
All the way back in the 1980s Meg and Graham Hemmings purchased the used piano from their friends. Meg and Graham had a home with 3 young children, so the piano was played on an almost daily basis. It was also tuned many times over the 20 years that they owned it. Neither Meg nor Graham suspected that the piano was hiding such an incredible secret.
As Meg and Graham’s children moved out and began their own families, the couple decided they wanted to downsize and move to a smaller home. Unfortunately, the couple had no room for the piano in their new home so they donated the piano to a local community college. The piano still worked fine and to Meg and Graham’s ears, it was tuned perfectly.
But as soon as Backhouse heard the first note come out of the piano, he knew something was “off.” Martin Backhouse has been a piano tuner for many years and his ears are trained to hear small problems like this. When he looked inside he found the coins.
In the United Kingdom, where Backhouse found the coins, there is a law called the Treasure Act 1996 which entitles Martin Backhouse to a portion of the coins because he found them. Sadly for the Hemmings, they are not entitled to any money from the sale of the coins. The rest of the money will go to the community college.
The Hemmings aren’t bothered that they won’t be getting a cut, though. Instead, Meg Hemmings is more disappointed that we don’t know the origin of the coins.
The sadness is, it’s not a complete story, they’ve looked and searched for the people and they unfortunately haven’t come forward
Since the story broke, there have been many people claiming to be the rightful owners of the coins, however no proof has been provided as of yet.
Through a clever design, the coins were stashed inside of the piano where the keys could still be played, but their notes were slightly out of tune to a trained ear. This is the first time the British Museum has ever seen someone hiding coins in a piano, a spokesperson explained
It is a fascinating story. We are not aware of any other coin hoards being secreted in pianos.
Experts believe that the treasure managed to stay hidden for at least 75 years, so it was certainly a fantastic hiding spot!
What do you think of this? Can you imagine having $640,000 hiding right inside your home like this without even knowing? Let us know down below!
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