April 28, 2011 – In 1938 the German banker Martin Sulzbacher fled to Britain in order to escape from German persecution due to his Jewish origin. He and his family settled down in the London borough Hackney. But he did not find a safe exile there. He was interned at the Isle of Man as “enemy alien refugee”, before he was deported to Canada. Still close to the Irish coast, a submarine attacked his ship. The assault cost the lives of half of the passengers. Sulzbacher survived and was transported immediately to Australia.
The Sulzbacher family stashed the treasure in a glass jar. Photo: Hackney Council.
Sulzbacher’s family stayed in Hackney. For fear of theft and looting they stashed the family’s treasure of American Gold coins at two different places within their garden. Unfortunately their house was hit by a bomb in 1941. All five members of the family died. Shortly afterwards Sulzbacher returned from Australia. He had to accept his family’s fate and the fact that the treasure was untraceably. Martin Sulzbacher decided to stay in Britain and opened a bookshop in London.
In 1952 he regained a first part of the family treasure. Construction workers found a hoard of 82 golden 20 $ coins, when building a house, where the Sulzbacher family once used to live. The coroner decided that these gold coins belonged to Martin Sulzbacher.
The gold coins of the Hackney treasure are estimated at about 100.000 pounds. Photo: Hackney Council.
In 2007 four residents of Hackney were digging a frog pond, when they spotted 80 20$ gold coins estimated later at about 100.000 pounds. They informed the British Museum. There, the numismatists stated after a complex and time-consuming research, that there was a high probability that these gold coins were the second part of the treasure of Martin Sulzbach. He himself had died in 1981. But the officials were able to spot a descendent of the banker and bookseller. On April 18, 2011, the coroner adjudged Max Sulzbacher the property of the gold coins.
Since the introduction of the Treasure Trove Act, this has been the first case that a treasure could be returned to the descendant of the original owner. Max Sulzbacher had donated a piece of the hoard to the Museum of London and another to the Hackney Museum. He also promised a finder’s reward to the honest finders.
CoinsWeekly has reported on the finding of the treasure. You will find the article here.
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