If you carry a handbag on a regular basis, we're sure that, like us, you've had the joyful experience of finding a misplaced fiver tucked into a corner, or a pack of gum just when you fancy a piece, or your favourite lipgloss which you'd written off as lost. Handbags can be a treasure trove of hidden objects, and it's always delightful to find something unexpected inside.
An elderly widower in Woking found treasure of the more literal kind when going through his late wife's handbag recently. Joy Hulme discovered a group of ancient gold and silver coins dating from 1282 to 1361 while tidying her garden in 1953. She did the right thing, reported her find and turned in the coins to the British Museum once they were officially declared treasure, who paid her for the find.
Unbeknownst to her husband, however, Mrs. Hume held on to 14 of the coins. She kept them in a pouch in her handbag, and they weren't discovered until Mr. Hume was going through his wife's things after her death.
Mr. Hume has turned in the coins, and they have officially been declared treasure. The 1996 Treasure Act states that all coins over 300 years old must be turned into the coroner in the district they're found for evaluation. If they are declared treasure, museums are given the opportunity to acquire them and the finder is paid a fee.
While holding on to the coins was illegal, we have to envy Mrs. Hume. We feel lucky when we find an unexpected five quid note. We can only imagine how lucky we'd feel with actual treasure in our handbag every day for fifty odd years.
Image courtesy of diongillard's Flickr photostream