Westmancote Treasure discovered beneath floorboards by heating engineer

Hoards come in all shapes and sizes. We are quite used to the type of Roman hoards from many centuries ago, found in the ground by detectorists. The Westmancote treasure is something slightly different. Dating from the late 18th century, and discovered beneath floorboards by a heating engineer, this was such a fine and interesting discovery that the British Museum decided to keep an example from the hoard for the National Collection.

The report in the British Numismatic Journal from 1969 by John Kent explains the discovery:
On 9 January 1969 Mr. F.W.A. Hancock, working as a heating engineer at Tudor House, Westmancote, found beneath the floorboards fifty-seven guineas and two shillings, the last coin dated 1794, in paper wrappings. On 24 January, an inquest at Pershore found them to be treasure trove. A guinea of 1789 was acquired by the national collection; the remainder, not being required by a museum, were returned to the finder. The coins were in excellent condition, and all but one, a guinea of 1787, comfortably exceeded the minimum legal weight of 5 dwt. 8 gr.

The 1789 coin acquired for the nation is recorded in the British Museum as item 1972,0804.1. The remainder were shared by the finder and the owner of the property. We are delighted to offer here seven of the coins from this ‘treasure’, gold Guineas of George III from 1787 to 1794. Retained in the family of the owners of the property for many years they are seeing the ‘light of day’, apart from a brief outing in 1969, for the first time since they were carefully concealed over two hundred years ago. They have remained, as the report states, ‘in excellent condition’ and there can be few better examples available today, certainly very few with such a romantic tale to tell.

Fifty-Seven Guineas constituted a sizeable fortune at the end of the 1790’s and we can only wonder at who hid these coins so carefully, perhaps the owner of the property, and why they never returned to reclaim their money. Given the condition of the coins it seems likely they were recently acquired from a bank and had seen virtually no circulation or use. Perhaps the funds from a land or property transaction, kept away from prying eyes in the safest and most secure place available to them. The misfortune for the original owner brings us the fascination and pleasure of coins in unrivalled condition.
The collection was sold in Lawrences Spring Auction of Militaria, Medals and Coins auction. To consign to their sales, please get in touch.

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