An elderly couple who unknowingly sat on a £500,000 hoard of gold coins hidden in the piano they owned for more than 30 years will not get a penny from the secret trove.
A court has ruled the hoard to be treasure so Graham Hemmings, 72, and his 65-year-old wife Meg cannot have any claim to the fortune.
They had bought the Broadwood piano in 1983 and taught their children to play on it before donating the instrument to a school.
Piano tuner, Martin Backhouse, discovered eight cloth packages containing 913 gold coins while cleaning it.
Experts were able to date the coins as being from between 1847 to 1915 during the reign of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V.
And they were able to tell they had been hidden inside the antique between 1926 and 1946 thanks to an advert for Shredded Wheat found inside one of the packages.
Now, a coroner’s court has ruled that because there is no way of knowing who put the coins there in the first place, there are no rightful heirs and the hoard should be declared treasure.
The ruling means any money raised through their auction or sale is likely to be split between Backhouse and the school – Bishop’s Castle Community College, in Shropshire.
“I don’t regret not finding the coins,” said Mr Hemmings.
“I think that’s moved on, we’ve got to celebrate that it’s going to be used for a good cause, and that’s how we view it positively.
“Strictly speaking, I don’t believe we’re entitled to anything, and we’re not looking for anything.
“If the college gets it then we’d be very pleased and very supportive of that. We’re very happy with the outcome.”
For a hoard less than 300 years old to be treasure, it must be substantially made of gold or silver and have been deliberately concealed by the owner with a view to later recovery.
The owner, or his or her present heirs or successors, must also be unknown.
Shropshire coroner John Ellery said the 633 gold sovereigns and 280 half sovereigns, including the packaging but not the piano, could therefore be declared as treasure.
The hoard totals more than 6kg of gold bullion, and the individual coins have over 90% purity.
Peter Reavill, the find’s liaison officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire, said at the time they were minted one of the coins would have been enough to “buy a round of drinks at the pub”, he said.
The court heard the piano in question was one of thousands to be produced by Broadwood and Sons, of London.
As for the lucky tuner, Mr Backhouse said of the find: “It was just mind blowing, they were gobsmacked, and I was gobsmacked.
“I’m not sure what I’m entitled to at the moment, but it probably will be a reasonable amount. It could be over £100,000, I just don’t know.”