A hoard of gold coins has been found hidden away in an upright piano in Shropshire.
The cache is believed to date from pre-1990 and appears to have been deliberately squirrelled away within the last 110 years.
The piano has so far been traced back to 1906, when it was made by Broadwood and Sons of London and sold to a music shop in Essex.
The instrument’s more recent history places it in the Saffron Walden area of Essex, when it was bought by a family in 1983, who later moved to Shropshire.
An inquest has now opened with both the coroner and the British Museum urging claimants to come forward and explain when the haul was hidden and why it came to be inside a piano.
The inquest will also determine if the coins qualify as treasure under the terms of the Treasure Act (1996).
Peter Reavill, of the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, told the BBC the find was a “stunning assemblage of material.”
He added: “The owners laid it all out on the table. I was like ‘whoa’. I’m an archaeologist and I’m used to dealing with treasure but I’m more used to medieval brooches.
“I have never seen anything like it.”
Should the find qualify as treasure, it could become the property of the Crown, should the coroner find they have been hidden with the intent of future recovery.
However, if the original owner, or their heirs are able to establish their claim to the find, this will override the Crown’s claim.
The coroner has thus suspended the inquest until March 2017 to allow possible claimants to come forward.
Full information about the size, nature and value of the find will be revealed then, leaving the onus on claimants to prove their links to the treasure are genuine.
Speaking at the inquest, Reavill added: “I felt they would likely constitute an item of treasure.
“Although we know what these objects are, we are going to withhold that information. We want the owner or his or her successors to be found.”
The Treasure Act allows a local or national museum to acquire such finds for public benefit – paying a reward which is normally shared equally between the finder and landowner.
The administration of the Treasure process is undertaken at the British Museum.