Not all treasures are buried in the earth, some of them are hidden in old buildings too! Especially in France, the chances of finding such hoards seem to be good – we can already report for the second time this year that gold coins were found “indoors” in the country.
The unexpected windfall occurred in the coastal town of Plozévet in Brittany. A couple had bought an old estate there in 2012. When remodelling the farm buildings, craftsmen stumbled upon the treasure in 2019. In a stone wall, they found a walled-in metal box full of coins. And that is not all: just a few days later, they discovered another bag full of coins on a roof beam! A total of 239 coins came to light.
Baroque Gold Splendour
According to the auction house Deloys in Angers, which will auction off the coins on 29 September, the authenticity of the coins was confirmed and the find was examined in detail. All pieces are French gold coins that were minted between 1638 and 1692. 23 of them date from the reign of King Louis XIII, 216 from that of Sun King Louis XIV. They are said to come from 19 different French mints.
In total, the value of the coins is estimated at about 250,000 to 300,000 euros. Some rarities might push the result of the auction sale further up. Among the rarest pieces of the hoard are a Louis d’or “à la Croix des Templiers” by Louis XIII, that was minted in Paris in 1640 and has an estimate of 8,000 to 12,000 euros. Even rarer is the double Louis d’or by Louis XIV minted in 1646 in Dijon. According to the Droulers catalogue, only 120 specimens of this variety depicting the head of the young king with a long lock were minted. The Gadoury catalogue does not even mention this variety. The coin is estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 euros.
Who Hid the Treasure?
According to the consulted Service Régional d’Archéologie Préventive, the treasure seems to come from the property of a wealthy family of merchants or farmers who inhabited the site, whose oldest parts date back to the 13th century, in the 17th century. In that era, the region on the Iroise Sea, at the western tip of Brittany, experienced a period of great prosperity as trade with England and northern Europe was conducted from here. The youngest coins of the find, which were minted around 1690, date from an economically difficult period in which the value of French coins was depreciated. In such times, people like to build up an emergency stock of old, “good” coins, preferably made of gold, as in this case. The question of why nobody came back to get the coins someday cannot be answered.
Keep Your Eyes Open!
After the sale of the coins on 29 September, the proceeds will be divided fairly. One half will go to the couple who owns the manor – and who now certainly has to come up with significantly less money to remodel the new property. The other half will go to the three craftsmen who found the treasure – quite a profitable job! So, dear craftsmen and house owners: Watch out for coins, look for them even in the most hidden corners of old buildings. You never know, there might be a bag of gold coins just waiting for someone to find it.
You can find all coins from the hoard on the website of the auction house.
In 2018, the golden heart of Anne of Brittany was stolen in a bold theft in Nantes along with other gold objects.
The Monnaie de Paris currently dedicates an exhibition to Napoleon’s coins and medals.