Current Affairs Valuable hoard of silver coins found and lost
Police have reported the discovery of one of the biggest hoards of silver coins unearthed on the territory of the Czech Republic. Two years ago a treasure hunter in Moravia came upon the find of his life: a jug containing thousands of silver coins minted between the 15th and 17th centuries. He failed to report the find, selling most of it to a collector and only part of it has now been retrieved.
Although it may seem that the days of buried treasure are long over a surprising number of treasure hunters continue to try their luck, combing potentially interesting areas with metal detectors. Occasionally, their patience is rewarded. Two years ago a 39-year old man combing the forests near Boskovice in south Moravia came upon a ceramic jug containing around 9,000 silver coins including talers, kreutzers and deniers minted between the 15th and 17th centuries. The man failed to report the find, selling the vast majority of coins along with the jug to a collector who in turn passed it on to others. The valuable find would never have been registered if the police had not received an anonymous letter reporting the discovery which even contained photographs of some of the coins in question. Among them is a precious gulden minted in 1622 which alone would have got 100,000 crowns on the black market. Both the finder and collector are now being prosecuted for failing to report the find, as required by Czech law. Zdenka Killianová one of the investigators on the case says that had the finder reported the hoard he would have received more as a reward from the state than he got from the collector he contacted.
“Experts have put the value of the hoard at 1, 100 000 crowns and its historic values is several times higher. Had the man reported the find he would have been entitled to 10 percent of its estimated value which is more that he got from the collector he sold it to.”
The police have so far been able to trace over 2,000 of the 9,000 coins found and some of the most valuable pieces are missing. Even so, historians and numismatic experts are excited about the discovery. Historian Dagmar Grossmannová from the Moravian Land Museum says that in all likelihood the silver hoard was buried in the turbulent times of the 30 years war. She explains why this find is of particular significance.
“A find of this kind –in terms of the huge number and variety of coins we had here – had not been unearthed in several decades, and it is a great pity that it was not preserved in its entirety. Apart from its numismatic value, such a find is always important in terms of helping us map what coins were in circulation on our territory at a given time. From what we know this find contained coins used around Europe at the time. From that point of view the fact that we only have a small part of the hoard is a significant historic loss.”
The collection of silver coins salvaged from the original find will now be inspected and documented by numismatic experts and historians and in due time they will be put on display at the Moravian land Museum in Brno.