What’s hidden beneath your floorboards? For one anonymous U.K. couple, it was a trove of 264 gold coins that is now set to sell at auction for as much as £250,000 ($288,000).
For generations, the treasure lay hidden underneath an 18th-century townhouse in Ellerby, a village in North Yorkshire. Then, in 2019, the homeowners of 10 years redid their kitchen floor, and hit what they thought was an electrical cable beneath the concrete.
Instead, it was the secret hoard, tightly packed inside a salt-glazed earthenware cup, about the size of a soda can, buried beneath the home, ITV News reported.
“It was an entirely serendipitous discovery,” Gregory Edmund, of London auctioneers Spink and Son, said in a statement. “As a coin specialist with many years of experience, I cannot recall a similar discovery in living memory.”
The auction house, which is billing the trove as one of the biggest coin finds in British archaeological history, will offer the collection in a dedicated Ellerby hoard sale on October 7.
The coins, which show heavy signs of daily use, are dated from 1610 to 1727. Because the youngest coin was less than 300 years old, the hoard does not qualify as “treasure” under British law, allowing the couple to keep it. The coins, which cover the reign of James I through that of King George I, were originally worth. between £50 and £100.
Today, the rarest is a 1720 George I guinea that—due to a minting error—does not feature the king’s head, with two “tails” sides instead. It could bring in as much as £4,000 ($4,600). A 1675 Charles II guinea, meanwhile, which misspells his Latin name as “CRAOLVS” instead of “CAROLVS,” carries a presale estimate of £1,500 ($1,725).
The collection originally belonged to Joseph and Sarah Fernley-Maisters, a couple from an influential mercantile family, who married in 1694 and died in 1725 and 1745, respectively. The family made their money trading in iron ore, timber, and coal.
“Joseph and Sarah clearly distrusted the newly-formed Bank of England, the ‘banknote’ and even the gold coinage of their day because they [chose] to hold onto so many coins dating to the English Civil War and beforehand,” Edmund said. “Why they never recovered the coins when they were really easy to find just beneath original 18th-century floorboards is an even bigger mystery, but it is one hell of a piggy bank.”
See more photos of the coins below.