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Couple finds rare coins worth over $800,000 while renovating their kitchen floors

The English couple, who wish to remain anonymous, were stunned by the discovery.

A couple in England had the surprise of a lifetime when they discovered a stash of rare coins underneath the kitchen floorboards during a renovation project.

Gregory Edmund, an auctioneer and British coin specialist at Spink and Son, confirmed to TODAY that the coins were discovered by the North Yorkshire couple, who initially thought they had stumbled on a piece of electrical cable while working on their 18th century home in 2019.

The first discovery of the gold coins.
The first discovery of the gold coins.Spink and Son

"Why they decided to touch it who knows, but when they did, they realised it was a gold disc and there were hundreds more beneath!" Edmunds told TODAY via email.

The haul of rare coins were recently sold at auction for $852,380 against a provisional sale estimate of $231,390. According to The Yorkshire Post, the coins have been linked to a Hull merchant family, the Maisters. The coins date from 1610 until 1727, from the reigns of King James I to King George I. The period covers the time of the marriage of Sarah Maister to Joseph Fernley. According to The Sun, Fernley died in 1725 and Maister remained in the area until her death in 1745.

Over 200 years later, the Yorkshire couple discovered the hidden treasure.

Edmund said it was a unique opportunity to be involved in the auction, which included 372 global registrants and dozens of successful bidders.

"It is a rare privilege for an auctioneer to be graced with a white glove sale (100% sold), but when the story of Joseph and Sarah Fernley and their misers millions came to my attention back in 2019, I just knew the story had to be told," he said. "The anonymous finders were absolutely staggered by the result. It dwarfed any pre-conceived expectations and set dozens of world records along the way."

The coins as they were found in the dirt.
The coins as they were found in the dirt.Spink and Son

Edmund said buyers flocked from around the world, bidding up the coins for the privilege of owning a part of their 292-year old treasure.

“The sale was unique in so many ways," he said. "The story of the coins, the method of discovery and the rare opportunity to buy them at auction."

"I have never seen a response to an auction like that before," he said, adding that sales went three times over his provisional estimate.

Some of the highlight lots included:

Some of the rare coins from the auction.
Some of the rare coins from the auction.Spink and Son
  • Lot 5 — A Rare Scottish Issue, James VI and I Six Pounds Gold Coin — sold for $6,100. (Pre-sale estimate $1,100)
  • Lot 101 — A Remarkable Mint Error — Charles II, Guinea, where CAROLUS has been mistakenly spelled CRAOLVS — sold for $10,850. (Pre-sale estimate of $1,100)
  • Lot 164 — A Queen Anne, Guinea, 1705, struck before the Union of England and Scotland — sold for $14,920. (Pre-sale estimate of $3,400)
  • Lot 241 — The Unbelievable Mint Error, a coin struck with no head but two tails. A George I ‘Brockage’ Guinea, 1720, sold for $72,860. (Pre-sale estimate of $4,500)

"This last coin is a new world record for any ‘brockage’ mint error coin of any country ever sold at auction, besting a US gold dollar sold in Texas for $54,625 in October 2011," Edmund said.

He explained that while it's ordinary for rare coins to be sold at auction, the unique history of these coins and their amazing discovery made the sale extraordinary. Still, he hopes that it won't cause people to start renovating their homes in hopes of making a similar discovery.

“I do hope people think before ripping up their floors,” he said.