Why were British coins buried in Australian Albany?

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June 9, 2011 – At the beginning of May a worker found more than 300 British sovereigns struck between 1817 and 1900. Now local historians are loosing any sleep over the question, why these sovereigns were buried at Albany. The Albany Historical Society has set up a theory, which is delineated by their member Andrew Eyden: “There was a time in the 1880’s when the townspeople were scared by the very real threat of an attack by the Russians on Australian Ports, The British were very close to declaring war on Russia and Russian ships had been sent on a reconnaissance mission to take depth soundings and photographs of Albany’s port. The banks in Albany were so concerned about the threat, they packed up 3,000 of the town’s sovereigns and sent them to Perth for safekeeping.” Andrew Eyden is convinced that some of the coins were lost during the evacuation.

John Robertson a historian who specialized in the history of sealing and whaling at the South Coast of Australia build the theory that the treasure is connected with the whaler John Williams. In 1842 two thieves had stolen from him 250 sovereigns and some silver. They were condemned to deportation and their booty never was found again. Maybe it rested in the soil, while the thieves remained in Tasmania.

It might help to take a closer look at the dates of issue, but this is now impossible. The landowner holds the coins and he refuses any access to them and to his land. He has hired a security company in order to discourage potential treasure hunters. Prof. John Tarrant of the law school of the University of Western Australia said, that he does not believe that the landowner is breaking any law. The gold coins were found at his premises buried in the ground. “That is significant because the case law indicates that in such a circumstance, the owner of the land – when something like this is found – is the owner of the discovery.” There does not exist any law in West Australia that exempts treasures of historical importance.

If you want to know more about the treasure trove of Albany, click here.

More details about the different theories you will find here.