Man Loses Keys, Finds 15th Century Relics Instead

We've all lost our keys at some point, but one man found his along with an extraordinary hidden treasure. 

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When Welsh farmer Ifor Edwards, 56, dropped his keys on a tract of land he owns called Oak Farm in Bronington, he was determined to find them, so he and his wife, Anna, 40, called in metal-detecting experts from the Wrexham Heritage Society.

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Cliff Massey, 83, found the keys, but he also found 14 medieval coins from the 14th and 15th centuries, according to a story published Monday in the Shropshire Star.

John Gittins, a coroner who performed an inquest on the findings, described the coins, which are composed of 90 percent silver and likely from the days of Edward III, Henry V and Henry VI, as a “treasure.”

Yahoo! Shine could not reach Edwards for comment, but he told the paper, “It is a once in a lifetime thing. It is such a shock, you just can’t quite believe it. You realize those coins were there before they ever found America or anything. You just can’t believe you’re holding something that is 600 and something years old. We only bought the land three years ago and nothing like this has ever been found before.”

And Massey told the Daily Post, a North Wales newspaper, “[Edwards] hadn’t ploughed the field for some time and after he ploughed it I found two coins. I went the following day and found the rest of them in close proximity.” Yahoo! Shine could not reach Massey for comment.

The Shropshire Star reports that Wrexham County Borough Museum is interested in acquiring the coins, and Edwards and Massey will split the proceeds.

“It’s extraordinarily rare to find a coin like this—you have better odds of being hit by lightning than finding this particular coin,” coin appraiser Beth Weingast, a certified member of the Appraiser’s Association of America, told Yahoo! Shine. 

“In order to assess the value of the coins, I would need to see the front and back of each one, but the coin in the photo looks like a ‘groat,’ a type of currency used in old England,” says Weingast. “It may be the size of a half-dollar (a half-groat would be the size of a quarter) and today, it might be worth anywhere from $700 to $800.”

The lettering on the outer edge of the coin indicates the time period and king, as well as the land he owned. And although the words are too tiny to read, Weingast said, the face might be that of King Henry VI (1422-1461). “Whoever ruled at the time also had their image imprinted on the currency and if you look closely, you’ll see that the king pictured here is smiling (or at the very least pleasant-looking), much like King Henry VI,” she said. “His predecessor Henry V, scowled and had a thinner face, and during the reign of Edward III, people didn’t often use coins, instead trading items such as bread, cloth, beer, wood, or animal skins.”

Most striking is the coin’s pristine condition. “It’s likely made with very thin sheets of silver and very bendable—it as thick as a sheet of thin, pliable metal,” says Weingast. “Back then, many people bent and clipped the lettering off the coins and sold them at higher prices—the fact that this coin is unclipped means it may have been buried right after it was minted. Even if you saw this coin in a museum, it likely would have been clipped.”

Surprisingly, it’s not the first time rare treasures have been found in the area. According to the story in the Daily Post, in 2011, a ring-shaped silver brooch was found two feet town the side of a riverbank at Glasgoed farm in Ruthin. Experts suspect the jewelry dates back to the 13th or 14th century and is worth a few hundred dollars. The same year, a local man found a gold ring (known as a mouring) in a pasture in Hawarden. It was imprinted with the words, “tho ded I bee remember mee” and experts confirmed it was 82 percent gold, 10 percent silver, and a popular accessory during the reign of Charles II during the late 17th century. And in 2010, a man found a silver buckle in Penrhyn Bay. It was 99.7 percent silver and believed to be from the 13th century.

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