A couple using a metal detector unearthed five rare 14th-century gold coins from the reign of Edward III in a field that could fetch up to £15,000 ($18,600) – and the find happened while one of them was suffering from leukemia.
Phil Castle, 71, and wife Joan, 70, found the five pieces, still in immaculate condition, in a plowed field near their home in New Romney, Kent, England.
Castle was undergoing chemotherapy treatment when the pair stumbled upon a medieval brass purse bar eight inches underground.
The couple have been metal detecting together for more than 30 years and were searching one of their favorite fields at nearby Romney Marsh when they made the find in October 2018.
The coins from the reign of King Edward III are 1.3 inches in diameter and show the Plantagenet monarch in a ship holding a sword and shield on one side, and the royal cross on the other.
During their heyday, these coins were the highest denomination in circulation with a face value of 6 shillings and 8 pence, which is about £2,500 ($3,100) per coin in today’s money, experts said.
Joan initially found a broken gold coin on the surface of the soil, then another signal from the metal detector next to it revealed the 14th-century brass purse bar. Phil came over to help and found a gold coin.
Over the next two hours, four more gold coins were uncovered in an area of around 16 feet.
However, the broken coin that was with the collection is a plated contemporary forgery, experts revealed.
Phil said: “We had no idea what the coins were when we found them. At the time, I was having chemo for leukemia so detecting was a great relief.”
The purse and coins are expected to fetch between £12,000 and £15,000 ($14,900 and $18,600) at auction as they go under the hammer next week.
Phil used to work at Woolwich Arsenal in southeast London and was introduced to the hobby by Joan, who used to search for fossils and mudlark on the River Thames – which is searching river mud for items of value or historical significance.
Joan is hoping the couple can buy a new kitchen with their share of the proceeds from the sale, which will be split with the landowner where they were discovered.
Nigel Mills, consultant in artifacts and antiquities at Noonans auctioneers, said: “The coins were recorded by Jo Ahmet, the finds liaison officer for Kent as Gold nobles of Edward III issued between 1351 to 1361.
“This was the first significant issue of gold coins that was successful after the previous attempts had failed and the coins were subsequently recalled and melted down.
“At the time, these were the highest denomination coins in circulation with a face value of 6 shillings and 8 pence, which is about £2,500 per coin in today’s money.
“Measuring 3.4cm in diameter, they portray the King in a ship holding a sword and shield on the obverse with a royal cross on the reverse.”
Mills said coins of this age are rare as they are usually silver rather than gold.
He added: “Purse hoards are not common and when they do turn up but they usually contain just silver coins so this one is special.
“Apart from the broken coin which is a plated contemporary forgery, all five gold coins are in virtually mint state and must have been lost.”
The coins will be part of a specialist coin, medal, banknote and jewelry auctioneers at Noonans in Mayfair, central London, on May 24.
This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.