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Author Topic: Treasure Trove  (Read 988 times)
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John
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« on: November 22, 2012, 16:48:19 PM »

Dover Express - Friday 10 July 1942

TREASURE TROVE AT STAPLE.

An unusual and interesting inquest was conducted by Mr. Rutley Mowll, the East Kent Coroner, at Church Farm, Staple, on Wednesday, on one hundred and thirty eight silver coins found on the site of demolished cottages near Staple Church. A jury consisting of Messrs T. Palmer (foreman), W. E. Bates, W. J. Millgate, R. B. Kemp, A. Amos, E. T. Norris, E. Bassett, J. Rose and H. Newing.

The Coroner said it was the first treasure trove inquest he had had to conduct. The coins were found by a man digging in a garden, and as such cases are very rare nowadays he (the Coroner) communicated with the Home Office, and they replied that it appeared an inquest should be held, and that if they should be found to be treasure trove their discovery should reported to the Director of the British Museum for instructions concerning their disposal. Finders of treasure trove, providing they promptly reported their find, received the full market value.

Josiah Edward James West, aged 28, a farm labourer, of 2, Church Cottages, Staple, said that on May 31st he was digging on the foundations of two demolished cottages which had stood in front of his own, with the object of extending his garden. While grubbing out the old foundations he discovered the coins between the remains of a cellar and the foundations. They appeared to have no container, and came out in one lump on his fork. The cottages used to have brick floors, and he formed the opinion that a brick had been moved and the coins placed beneath it to hide them. He washed the coins. He reported the matter to his employer, Mr. B. Petley, of Crixhall Court, Staple, either the same day or the next, and he reported the matter to the Police. He had lived at his present address nearly three years. The demolished cottages belonged to the Goodnestone Estate. He searched for further treasure, but found none. His next door neighbour. Mr. F. Burden, was present when he unearthed the coins.

P.C. A. Broadwood (Wingham) said he was shown the 138 coins, which appeared to be silver. Three of them were dated 1671, 1672, 1673.

Frank Vincent Tritton, of Church Farm, Staple, said he had spent all his life in the village, 71 years. He could not say how long the cottages were empty before they were demolished. He had no idea the coins were there.

William Pinckard Delane Stebbing, J.P.. of Deal, said he was Hon. Editor of Proceedings of the Kent Archaeological Society. There was a James I shilling; half-crowns, shillings and sixpences of Charles X., date about 1628-9; and the three Charles II. half-crowns. They must have been hidden a great many years ago, probably soon after 1673, the date of the latest coin, as the Charles II coins were good Mint specimens. Except for these three coins they were all "hammered" coinage and not struck with a collar as modern coins.

The Coroner, in summing up, said treasure trove is where gold or silver in coin, plate or bullion is found concealed in a house, in the earth or private places, and the owner unknown. To be treasure trove it must have been intentionally hidden. The jury found that the coins were treasure trove, the owner was unknown, finder was the witness West, and that he promptly disclosed his finding. Mr. Stebbing, who had been examining the coins during the summing up, told the Coroner that he had found that two coins were of the time of Queen Elizabeth.
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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2012, 17:24:30 PM »

Intriguing! 
In the 1950's, when I was living in Cheshire, a coin hoard of similar age was discovered in very similar circumstances when a local farmhouse was being demolished.
I can't remember the inquest, or the result, but the local newspaper ran a short story competition for schoolchildren to imagine the circumstances under which someone might have hidden the coins.
I duly entered, egged on by my English teacher after I had achieved a 'Best in Class' essay-writing competition at my school.
I got..................nowhere Embarrassed!
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Craggs
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2016, 19:53:31 PM »

Treasure Trove ?

I found this tiny newspaper snippet whilst looking for something else..

Dover Express - Friday 25 April 1941

Mr. A. H. Baker of Chantry Cottages, Bredgar, Kent, has received a cheque for £65 as a reward for a crock of gold coins which he dug up in his front garden.
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alkhamhills
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2016, 20:46:14 PM »

If you want to compare the value of a £65 0s 0d Project  in 1941 there are three choices. In 2014 the relative:
historic opportunity cost  of that project is £2,788.00
labour cost  of that project is £8,322.00
economic cost  of that project is £13,940.00

That looks a bit better!!. How many houses could you buy for £2788 in 1941
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2016, 21:17:34 PM »

I think that the £65.0s 0d which Mr Baker was given was a bit tight for what he actually found............... I think it was worth a lot more ...

Dover Express - Friday 05 April 1940

While digging up ivy roots close to the wall of The Chantry Cottages, Bredgar, near Sittingbourne, last week, Mr Harry Baker, one of the tenants, unearthed an earthenware crock containing 100 gold coins. The coins were identified by Mr B. Cattermole of West Street, Sittingbourne, as being nobles, half nobles and quarter nobles of the reign of King Edward III (1344), and as old gold alone they are worth more than £150.
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alkhamhills...........  he could have bought an estate !!!

Looking through the internet - there was another gold hoard found at Bredgar in 1957 -  Roman gold hoard buried in AD43.
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2016, 09:16:19 AM »

Portsmouth Evening News - Saturday 27 June 1931

TREASURE TROVE.

Anglo-Saxon Jewellery on Selsey Beach.

BRITISH MUSEUM'S AWARD.


The sum of £25 has been awarded by the Department of British and Mediaeval Antiquities, British Museum, as the price payable for the specimen of Anglo Saxon gold jewellery, recently found on the foreshore of East Beach, Selsey, and which was declared to be treasure trove by a coroner's inquest. The Selsey fisherman who found the ornament, Mr. E. C. Harding, has been notified, and he will receive £20, and Messrs. E. H. Lewis and Sons, the Chichester jewellers, will receive £5. It will be remembered that Messrs. Lewis bought the ornament as old gold, but immediately got into touch with the authorities when they had reason to believe that it was an antique of value. The Department expressed their recognition of the service rendered by Messrs. Lewis in the matter.
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2017, 08:54:20 AM »

Chichester Observer - Wednesday 23 November 1932

TREASURE TROVE AT SELSEY.

A CROCK OF ROMAN COINS.

THE CORONER'S FINDING.


An earthenware pot, containing a large number of coins, which was unearthed by some gardeners at Selsey on Friday last, formed the subject of an enquiry, which was conducted by Mr. J. W. Loader-Cooper (the Coroner for the Chichester District) at Selsey on Monday last. A jury had been empanelled, of which Mr. J. Bailey was foreman.

What is Treasure Trove?

The Coroner said what the jury had to satisfy themselves about was who was the finder of the coins, whether they or some of them were silver coins, and whether they were hidden treasure, or treasure trove, in which case they become the property of His Majesty the King. The great majority of the coins were apparently silver and bronze. In order to be treasure trove they must be either silver or gold. He was satisfied himself by an examination which had been made of some of the coins by an expert, Mr. Pretorius, that they were silver. If any persons found hidden treasure and did not disclose it they were liable to be severely punished, but that question did not arise at that inquiry, as the find had been reported to the police. If articles of gold or silver were purposely abandoned or thrown away or lost, they would not be treasure trove. They must have been concealed or hidden with the intention of returning to them to be treasure trove.

The first witness was Nellie Miller, of Manor Road, Selsey, a woman gardener, employed by Mrs. Thorpe. She said on Wednesday, November 16th, she was gardening at Halton with another gardener named Arthur Downer. They were double trenching a part of the garden to a depth of about 2ft. 6in. They both came up against something hard, and found there was something inside a crock, which they got out of the ground with a fork. First of all she thought they had found a bomb, but then they noticed coins sticking out of it. She reported the find to her employer. The crock, or pot, was a broken one, and it was still further damaged by the fork getting it out of the earth. She could not say whether the crock was filled to the brim with coins.

Arthur Downer, 4, Beach Road, Selsey, a gardener also employed by Mrs. Thorpe, also gave evidence.

Alexine Sara Diana Thorpe, widow, joint owner of Halton with her brother, said the pot was found two feet down in her garden. She said her sister had previously trenched the garden in 1915, and then found some sherds. Referring to the crock, she said 51 of the coins fell off the lump of mud and coins. Some were washed and cleaned. The pot was more than half full of coins.

Examined by an Expert.

P.C. Osman gave evidence to the coins being handed to him and subsequently examined by Mr. Pretorius, an expert.

The jury found that some of the coins were of silver and were treasure trove - that is to say, originally concealed by their owner, and the Coroner returned a verdict to that effect.

The foreman (Mr. Bailey) said he was the Chairmen of the Chichester and District Museum Committee, and he would like to express the wish that the Committee should have an opportunity of taking some of the separate coins if they were available.

The Coroner said they would go up to the Treasury and be handed over to the British Museum. The British Museum would keep them if they wanted them, and the finder would receive their antiquarian value. If the British Museum did not want them, they would no doubt return them to Mrs. Thorpe, as the finder, who then could be approached in the matter.

Another juryman (Mr. W. L. White) said he thought it should be well-known in Selsey that the finder always got the full value, as several things were found at Selsey from time to time.

The Coroner said the finder used to get 80 per cent. of the value, but now got the full value.

After the inquest had closed, the Coroner mentioned to the jury that Mr. Pretorius, a well-known expert who had examined the coins, said in his report they were so corroded with mud that it was very difficult to separate them. One coin which had been tested and found to be silver was about equal in weight to a sixpenny piece and a threepenny bit. Two other coins were 3rd and 4th century A.D. One was 210 A.D. and another 305 to 311 A.D. Some 280 coins were washed out of the lump of mud in which the lot were collected.

It is estimated that there were about 1,000 coins in the crock.
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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2017, 10:11:10 AM »

Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 14 April 1962

£2,000 WAITING TO BE CLAIMED

If anybody thinks he has a claim to the £2,000 collection of gold sovereigns dug up at Ramsgate, this week, it would be of assistance if he "would let the police know what those interests are," Mr. W. R. Mowll, East Kent Coroner, said yesterday. Mr Mowll announced that he would hold an inquest on the sovereigns on May 25.
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2018, 08:37:25 AM »

Chichester Observer - Wednesday 09 December 1925

TREASURE TROVE.

Quaint Inquest at Selsey Into Celtic Armlet Find.

Property of Crown.

Chichester Governess' Luck.

British Museum Reward.


When a Celtic maiden of slender build had the misfortune to lose her gold armlet while walking near her village on the shores of western Selsey, little did she realise that 2,000 years hence it would be the occasion of all the elaborate paraphenalia of a full coroner's enquiry.

Such a quaint eventuality has come to pass, however, for last Wednesday afternoon, in a picturesque railway carriage bungalow a few yards from the edge of the little brown clay cliff where the discovery was made, the Chichester Coroner and eight "good men of this county" assembled to "well and diligently" enquire "for our sovereign lord the King when, where, how, why, and by what means a certain gold armlet, said to be treasure trove, was found," and "if the same be treasure trove."

The armlet, as recorded in last week's "Observer," was found by Miss Kate Maud Ray, a resident of 45, West Street, Chichester, employed as a governess at Selsey, while walking along the sands.

It was the first treasure trove enquiry Mr. J. W. Loader Cooper, who conducted it, had experienced in the 50 years he had been a coroner, and none of the police officers present had attended one before, so that the proceedings were invested with a good deal of romance and interest, so much so that a number of people not concerned attended as curious spectators.

To an uninitiated outsider, the scene on the cliffs as the hour of the inquest drew nigh would have suggested another bungalow tragedy, as cars and motor cycles drew up, depositing Coroner, police, Press, and jurymen and witnesses. A closer scrutiny, however, would have revealed a different atmosphere than is usually prevalent at gatherings of this nature. Smiles and jokes replaced solemn looks and whispered comments, and as the Coroner observed, it was quite a relief to be able to jest at an inquest.

However, all the customary routine of an inquest was observed, even to handing each juryman a fee of a shilling for his attendance.

Archaelogical Juryman.

Mr. S. H. Day, a member of  the Bar, living in retirement at Selsey, of which his late father, Mr. Justice Day, was very fond, was elected foreman of the jury, which comprised Messrs. E. Heron-Allen (the well-known archaeologist), J. Clayton, G. F. Keep, R. Jewell, H. Hunnisett, F. S. Potter, and E. G. Johnson.

The Coroner, pointing out that the enquiry was a very unusual one, mentioned that it was recorded in the legal statistical books, that between three and four were held during the year, on an average, throughout England and Wales, although, personally, he did not think there were as many as that, as accounts of such enquiries were few and far between. They were there, he proceeded, as it was the duty of the Coroner to look after the rights of the Crown in such matters. The object was to ascertain who was the finder of the armlet, and whether it constituted treasure trove.

The text of the last Coroners' Act, passed in 1887, revealed that authority to coroners to investigate finds of treasure trove was first vested in them in the fourth year of Edward the first, when it was quaintly suggested that persons hitherto living an abstemious life who suddenly took to riotous living in taverns might be suspected of having acquired hidden treasure. "Treasure trove" was defined as gold or silver coin, plate, or vessel the owner of which was unknown, found hidden on private property, and as such, belonging to the Crown.

As other things might be found there, he would like to make it clear that it was an indictable offence if the finder of treasure trove did not report his discovery to the police or the Treasury. The penalty was a fine or imprisonment, and the last recorded case of a conviction for this offence was at Sussex Assizes in 1863, when the six accused, in default of paying the fine imposed, stayed in gaol for 12 months, "so that we have to congratulate Miss Ray on having escaped such unpleasant consequences." (Laughter).

The Coroner and jury, having first adjourned to view the spot where the armlet was found, the evidence was proceeded with.

Sergeant Bliss, of Chichester, produced the armlet, which, he said, was handed to him by P.C. Miller on November 26th. The Coroner passed the armlet, a heavy plain ornament of bright yellow, finishing at each end in a flat circular knob, to the jury, and it was examined by them and the Press with great interest. P.C. Miller, of Chichester, deposed that the armlet was handed to him on that day by Mr. Whitehead, the silversmith, of North Street, Chichester, in accordance with the instruction of the Superintendent.

Arthur William Whitehead, the silversmith, stated that on November 20th, Nurse Scott brought the ornament to him, explaining that Miss Ray, who was lodging with her, had picked it up on the sands, and wished to know what it was. He told her it was a valuable armlet of pure gold, and that he would have to report it to the authorities before handing it back to her.

2,000 Years Old.

Nurse Scott left it with him, and he immediately communicated with the Superintendent. So far as his expert knowledge went, he thought the armlet was of Celtic origin, about 2,000 years old. It was fine gold and weighed 4ozs. 13 penny weights. It was suitable for a slender arm. As old gold, it was worth nearly £20, but for the antiquarian value, there was of course no limit.

The Foreman; What makes you think it is a gold Celtic armlet?

Witness: I have studied that particular armlet in museums in various places.

You go by the shape, I take it? - It is typically Celtic.

Is there anything in the gold that would tell you it was old? - Only the workmanship.

In reply to the Coroner, Mr. Whitehead said he did not think the metal was alloyed.

The Coroner: It is, in fact, purer than the currency?

Mr. Whitehead: Yes, sir. I should say it is virgin gold taken from the ground.

In reading over the witness' depositions, the Coroner caused laughter by misreading 14 p.w.t. as 14 cwt. He laughingly explained that he was so unaccustomed to dealing with pennyweights that he made the mistake by force of habit.

Milicent Louise Scott, district nurse, of 45, West Street, Chichester, gave formal evidence as to receiving the armlet from Miss Ray.

The finder said on Wednesday, November 18th, she was walking along the seashore and just as she got past the old coastguard station, she saw, partially embedded in the sand, what appeared to her to be a brass ring. She was always on the look-out for treasure at Selsey, but at first she attached no particular value to the article. Cleaning it of the sand clinging to it, she took it to Platten House (where she acted in her professional capacity) and left it with some fossils on a tray. She forgot it on the Thursday, but took it to Chichester on the Friday, and gave it to Nurse Scott to be valued.

In reply to the Coroner, Miss Ray said she hoped the armlet would go to some museum.

The Coroner: So that if the Government get it, and it goes to some museum, it will follow your wishes?

Miss Ray: Yes.

In reply to the Coroner, Miss Ray said the coastal official told her the spot where she found the armlet was above high water mark.

The Coroner: But the tide had washed back the gravel a few yards to form a new cliff.

Miss Ray added that there was a piece of mud sticking to the armlet.

In reply to the foreman she said the armlet had evidently been in the earth. Beneath the sand was a red, sticky earth. Two-thirds of the armlet were buried. She was attracted by the gleam of the golden rim. The metal was in no way tarnished. She thought at first it was too heavy for gold. Being under the impression that gold was pliable, she tried to bend it out, but was unsuccessful.

Crumbling Cliff.

Reuben Searle, 2, Linton Villas, West Street, Selsey, Naval pensioner, said from 1910 to 1919 he was in charge of the Thorney Coastguard Station, and had remained on the coast ever since. The spot where the armlet was found was from seven to eight feet from the cliff, and about ten feet from ordinary high water mark. Every year there had been erosion at this spot. About 13 months ago the spot where the armlet was found was land. There was a garage there during the war which had to be removed in 1917, on account of the encroachment of the sea. When there was a sou' west gale, "terrible" seas came in, and the cliff got undermined and so tumbled.

In reply to the foreman, he said three weeks before the find there was a gale and heavy sea, and earth fell away from the cliff at the spot where the armlet was found.

Superintendent Brett was called to prove that he had never received any report of a lost article similar to the one produced.

The Coroner, in summing up, drew attention to the fact that in olden times, when such things as safes and banks were unknown, people often secreted their valuable trinkets in the earth for protection, and suggested that this was possibly the explanation of the armlet discovery. There was, he added, a sentimental disposition to criticise the action of the Law in depriving the finders of these things, but the fact was the Government was most anxious these valuable old artistic finds should be saved for the benefit of the nation. He felt perfectly certain that if the Government thought it was worth while preserving, it would consign the armlet to some museum.

Government and Finders.

Only as recently as last June the Government issued a circular, intimating that if all finders of old coins and ornaments required for national institution store houses, promptly reported them to the Treasury, the latter would reward the finders with 80 per cent. of the antiquarian value of the discoveries placed on them by the institutions to which they were consigned. It appeared that the armlet was worth easily £100 or more, so that the lady who found it would get £80, provided, of course, it was considered she had reported it promptly. The Government made it a condition that the finder did not have the right to legal claim, and that the rights of the Crown were preserved. The Coroner added that if the find had been sent straight away to the Treasury that enquiry - "one of the quaintest we have these days" - would not have taken place.

After the jury had deliberated in private a few minutes, the foreman announced that they had unanimously come to the conclusion the find was treasure trove. Mr. Heron Allen suggested 200 B.c. as the probable date of origin of the armlet, and intimated that the authorities of the British Museum (who were anxious to secure the armlet) were prepared to reward the finder very substantially.

The Coroner: I am very pleased to hear it.
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