March 17 (UPI) -- A British inquest is being held to determine the rightful owners of a stash of gold coins found inside an antique piano during restoration efforts.
The Shrewsbury Coroner's Court heard a repair worker hired by the instrument's new owners discovered someone had previously stashed an undisclosed number of gold coins inside the upright piano -- coins that date between 1847 and 1915.
Senior coroner John Ellery said the piano was made by Broadwood & Sons in London and originally sold in 1906 to a pair of Saffron Walden, Essex, music teachers with the surnames of Beavan and Mothersole. He said the instrument's whereabouts and ownership are unknown between the original purchase in 1906 and when it was purchased in the same area by a family in 1983.
The hoard was initially brought to the attention of Peter Reavill, who serves as finds liaison officer for the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme at Shropshire Museums.
"Our gut instinct is that the piano wasn't moved much between those two dates, and it wasn't moved from Saffron Walden and the district it's in," the Cambridge News quoted Reavill as saying.
Reavill did not reveal the worth of the coins, but he told the BBC they represent "the potential of yielding a life-changing sum of money."
"It's not the sort of money you would tuck away and forget," he said. "It is a lifetime of savings and it's beyond most people."
Experts said the gold could become the property of the crown under the Treasure Act if the rightful owners are not identified.
The inquest is scheduled to resume in April.