Home Money I unearthed a 650-year-old silver coin in my garden and it taught me something about cash today.

I unearthed a 650-year-old silver coin in my garden and it taught me something about cash today.

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The coin had been hidden for hundreds of years in a flower bed... until I accidentally dug it up.

Stumbling upon hidden treasure has timeless appeal, from Robert Louis Stephenson’s classic 1883 novel Treasure Island to the television show The Detectorists.

I recently found a buried treasure of mine, in the form of an old silver coin.

The most valuable thing turned out to be its story, rather than being worth huge amounts of money.

But I think the story of this little coin teaches us modern lessons about the value of money and how the way we make and spend coins has barely changed in 650 years.

It even tells us something about the ever-present nature of fraud.

The coin had been hidden for hundreds of years in a flower bed… until I accidentally dug it up.

Recently I was digging up some weeds in my garden that were threatening to take over my orchard, when I saw something glistening in some disturbed soil.

Thinking it was an old bottle cap, I went to pick it up and discovered it was a silver coin. Upon removing the dirt, I was intrigued to discover that the coin looked old and was covered in Latin writing, as well as the image of a king I didn’t recognize.

Taking my find inside, I decided to learn everything I could about the coin; My immediate thought was that it might be valuable and that I might even find more buried in the ground.

So I spoke to some coin experts to find out more about the history of this mysterious coin with, I think, some fascinating results.

A numismatic expert at Hattons of London – the technical term for someone who studies money and coins – informed me that the coin is a silver gram, made during the reign of King Edward III between 1356 and 1361 and made from a 92 .5 percent pure silver.

However, my dreams of selling the coin and retiring early were about to be crushed as Hattons valued it at £100-£150, while auctioneers Warwick & Warwick valued it at £50-£80.

Barely enough to be considered rich by the standards of 1361, let alone 2024.

In the 14th century, the groat was worth 4d, approximately two days’ wages for a basic worker, or one day’s wages for a skilled worker, such as a carpenter.

The coin would have bought two chickens, 16 pints of beer, 2 pounds of cheese or two dozen eggs in medieval times.

Unfortunately, my Latin is a little rusty and I couldn’t decipher the fragmented text printed on the coin, except for the words “London” and “Edward.”

Fortunately, Hattons was able to do it.

Even covered in dirt, it was clear that this silver coin deserved further investigation.

Even covered in dirt, it was clear that this silver coin deserved further investigation.

The “heads” side of the coin reads “Edward DG Rex ANGL & Franc D Hyb” – or “Edward, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, Lord of Ireland.”

On the opposite side, the Latin ‘Posui Deum A Diutor Em Meu’ translates as ‘I have made God my helper’, and the text ‘Civi Tas London’ means, as you can probably guess, that the coin was minted in London. At the Tower of London, to be precise.

In some ways, very little has changed when it comes to the monarch’s current impact on our money.

Not only do coins still feature the image of the ruling king or queen, but many still carry texts implying that they have a divine right to rule, despite our increasingly secular culture.

For example, take the inscription found on today’s £1 coins: “Charles III Dei Gra Rex Fid Def,” or “King Charles III, reigning by the grace of God, defender of the faith.”

The coin itself also features an interesting early anti-fraud feature.

The large cross is intended to make it easier to detect if silver has been removed from the coin.

The large cross is intended to make it easier to detect if silver has been removed from the coin.

The “cross” side of the coin has a large cross, running from edge to edge. The purpose of this cross is to make it obvious if someone had removed metal from the edge, known as “trimming.”

If a criminal cuts up enough coins, they could basically make free money by melting down the silver filings and making new counterfeit currency, or making silver bars to sell.

Thus, in 1247, mints began making coins with the so-called “long cross” design, which would make clipped coins easier to spot.

This was important in the Middle Ages, as the value of a coin was based on the value of the precious metal it contained, and the public’s confidence in that notion underpinned the entire idea of ​​coinage.

“This was a time when the money in your pocket was worth only as much as the precious metal it contained,” Hattons said.

The coin features the image of King Edward III and was struck midway through his life.

The coin features the image of King Edward III and was struck midway through his life.

Traders frowned upon clipped coins, which were essentially less valuable than intact ones, and coin clippers could face the death penalty if caught.

The silver gram I unearthed appears to have escaped the secateurs and is intact and in fairly decent condition, despite the best efforts of 14th century swindlers.

Again, not much has changed with physical money today when it comes to fighting fraud. We still incorporate anti-crime measures into every coin and note, but our methods have improved.

I’m not sure what a medieval coin maker would have done with holographic banknotes, but they would have recognized that we shared the same goal of making currency more difficult to counterfeit.

Could you find your own medieval coin?

If you own a metal detector, you have a good chance of finding that coin yourself.

Richard Beale, valuer in the collectibles department at Warwick & Warwick auction house, said: “Detectors are uncovering many coins from this period and earlier, there has been a lot of publicity about the discovery of valuable coin hoards and this has encouraged landowners to allow detectors onto their land.

But if you are lucky enough to unearth treasure, you can’t simply rely on the principle of “whoever finds, stays.”

Buried coins can have important cultural and financial value, so you may need to record everything you find.

If you find treasure, you must report it to the local coroner’s office within 14 days. The coroner will value it and try to sell it to a museum.

If you own the land on which the item was found, you will be paid its full value, and if you find it elsewhere, you will receive up to 50 percent. You will need permission from the owners. You may have to pay capital gains taxes.

A treasure is any metal object that is at least 300 years old and contains at least 10 percent precious metals.

If that item is a coin, you will have to have found at least two for it to count as treasure. However, if you find coins with less than 10 percent precious metals, they do not count as treasure unless you find 10 or more.

Prehistoric metal objects are always a treasure, and if you find two prehistoric objects in the same place they are a treasure even if they are not made of metal.

If you find precious metal objects less than 300 years old, you should report them if they were hidden on purpose.

Starting July 30, any object can be considered treasure if it is made of any metal, is at least 200 years old, and has historical significance.

Unfortunately, I never discovered more grains of silver hidden in the weeds of my garden, and clearly I would need to find quite a few to die a rich man.

But this little coin has still proven invaluable, teaching me more about the history of money, how little it has changed, and, sadly, the endless efforts of the futile to separate us from that money.

Kings and queens come and go, but con artists, it seems, are here to stay.

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