Ellerby coin hoard

The Ellerby coin hoard of 264 gold coins.


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The cache dating from the reign of James I to King George I was found in a soft-drinks can-sized earthenware cup no more than 8in (20cm) beneath the floor of the 18th century house.

The family made the discovery in the summer of 2019 and the group, now known as the Ellerby hoard, will be offered as individual lots at auction by Spink at CoinEx on October 7 with an estimate of more than £260,000.

Although dating from 1610 to 1727, which includes the period of the Commonwealth and Oliver Cromwell, no coins from that time were found in the hoard as they were outlawed following the restoration of King Charles II in 1660.

However among the hoard was a contemporary 1721 4000-Reis, struck during the reign of Jõaõ V of Portugal (permissible in England at the time and known as ‘moidore’ – a phonetic corruption of the Portuguese for a piece of gold - moi d’ore).

Specialist Gregory Edmund at Spink said: “The contextualised discovery of [the moidore] coin is exceedingly rare for England, with only the Merton College Chapel trove of 1903 presenting a comparable profile.”

This coin is sought for accession by the British Museum due to its extreme rarity in a British hoard context, however the remainder of the coins are not deemed Treasure as they were buried less than 300 years ago.

Gregory Edmund

Gregory Edmund of Spink.

Edmund added: “A coroner adjudicated that the cache of coins should be disclaimed because they were less than 300 years old at point of deposition, and because an original owner could be identified.”

George I Guinea

Among the Ellerby hoard is this George I Guinea, 1720, a mint error striking with no King’s head. It is estimated at £3000-4000 at Spink.

Spink said the original owners of the coins were the wealthy merchant Fernley-Maisters families of Hull. The hoard was probably amassed during the lifetime of Joseph Fernley and his second wife Sarah, daughter of Alderman Henry Maister. Following Joseph’s death, Sarah stayed in Ellerby until her own death at the age of 80 in August 1745, after which time the family estates passed through non-direct channels to nephews and nieces until the line died out.

James I Laurel

Among the Ellerby Hoard is this James I Laurel (June 18, 1624-July 7, 1625) the last year of his reign and with an unusual portrait styling him as a Roman Emperor. It is estimated at £3000-4000 at Spink.

Edmund added: “It is extraordinarily rare for hoards of English gold coins to ever come onto the marketplace. The number of coins and method of burial presents an extraordinary opportunity to appreciate the complicated English economy in the first decades of the Bank of England and significant distrust of its new-fangled invention, the ‘banknote’.

Charles II Guinea

Among the coins found in the hoard is this Charles II Guinea, 1675, with a remarkable spelling error in the King’s name – CRAOLVS instead of CAROLVS. It is estimated at £1000-1500 at Spink.

“Perhaps these wily owners preferred gold and were happy to accept century-old and even Brazilian coins before paper; perhaps they had heard about the problematic Jacobites further north and decided to keep a piggy bank. Why they never recovered the coins when they were really easy to find just beneath original 18th century floorboards is an even bigger mystery.”