Hoard of gold 'treasure' found hidden inside old piano in Shropshire
A hoard of gold items believed to be potential treasure has been found hidden inside a piano in Shropshire, an inquest heard.
The piano had been recently donated to an establishment in the south west of the county where the discovery was made, an inquest at the Shirehall, in Shrewsbury, heard.
The find was reported by the new owners of the piano and the items were deposited at Ludlow Museum Resource Centre before Christmas.
An inquest was opened today to determine whether the hoard qualifies as treasure under the terms defined by the Treasure Act 1996.
It has not yet been disclosed what the items are, but the inquest was told they are made of gold and appear to have been deliberately hidden within the last 110 years.
It has prompted an appeal to try and find the owner of the items, which have been described as "highly unusual in nature".
Peter Reavill, finds liaison officer for the British Museum's portable antiquities scheme, told the inquest: "These objects were mostly made of gold and appeared to be deliberately hidden.
"I felt they would likely constitute an item of treasure.
"Although we know what these objects are, we are going to withhold that information.
"We want the owner or his or her successors to be found."
For a hoard less than 300 years old to be treasure, it must be substantially made of gold or silver and have been deliberately concealed by the owner with a view to later recovery.
The owner, or his or her present heirs or successors, must also be unknown.
The upright piano was 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 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 when it was purchased by a family in the Saffron Walden area.
Anyone with information about the original owner of the piano, or the items, is asked to write to the coroner.
John Ellery, coroner for Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, told the inquest: "We will gather and evaluate such information that comes to us."
Mr Ellery adjourned the inquest to allow possible claimants of the items to come forward.
It is expected to conclude on March 16, when information about the size, nature and value of the hoard will be revealed.
People should write 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, how, when, where and why the find was concealed and evidence upon which they can be sure of the ownership by any potential claimant.
For any other inquiries, contact Mr Reavill, on 01743 254748 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no penalty for mistaken claims made in good faith but any false claims may be reported to the police.