1800 British sovereigns gold coins?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Construction workers in Port city of Albany, Australia south west coast found around 400 pieces of 1800 British sovereigns gold coins. Police are trying to determine who owns a treasure-trove of gold coins unearthed from a building site on Australia's southwest coast. Initial reports said the sovereigns dated back to the year 1800, and were worth more than $500,000. Albany was the first settlement in WA, established in December 1826, even before the Swan River colony which led to the Perth's early development.

Western Australia state police spokesman Gerry Cassidy said workers found the 400 British sovereigns last week while digging a ditch in the port city of Albany. They handed them to the property owner who is claiming ownership. Cassidy said Wednesday police are checking law books to determine whether the property owner or even a museum is entitled to keep the coins, dated 1800 — 26 years before Albany was settled by Europeans.

"Police have got to work out exactly how they handle it," Cassidy said.

He said an appraiser valued one of the coins at 16,000 Australian dollars ($17,000) but did not have an estimate for all of the coins.

Brett Joins, chief executive of Wauters Enterprises, confirmed his construction company had given the coins to local businessman Paul Lionetti.

"An exhaustive search was completed of the site and no other items were found," Joins told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. Lionetti could not immediately be contacted for comment Wednesday.

Police have no theories on how the coins came to be buried in Albany. Cassidy said the coins were found individually and did not appear to have been buried in a container.

Adrian Rose, of Paul Fraser Collectibles, said that British gold sovereigns were first minted in 1817, “so the 1800 date mentioned is a bit of a mystery - probably a misquote, I would think. There are also questions over the number of coins involved with some reports saying 300, others 400. Based on 400 coins the bullion value of the gold would be in excess of £86,000; the value of the coins on the collectors markets would be considerably more. The value of this find will depend on the exact date of the coin. For example a single 1817 gold sovereign sold for £340 at auction in the UK in February 2011, so the value of the whole collection could be over £100,000.”

Albany, which is around 400km south of Perth, was the first European settlement in Western Australia, and was established by the British in 1826 to try and prevent French forces from taking an interest in the area. Until 1900, it was home to the only deep-water port in Western Australia. British sovereigns were used in Australia until 1855, when the Sydney Mint started to produce its own version of the coins, featuring a unique Australian design.

Source: The Associated Press, BBC News, Herald Sun. ads

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