Will ancient Greek coin be double success for lucky seller

A 25-year-old Hertfordshire gardener has uncovered two finds which ‘staggered’ TV antiques expert Charles Hanson – and one has already soared to glory at auction. The consignor was clearing out his mum’s loft ahead of a house move and came across what he thought was an old bronze vase.

He said: “I had no idea if it was worth anything but decided to put it on eBay. It immediately sparked a huge bid from China so I thought I better get it checked out by experts and contacted Hansons Auctioneers.

Mark Laban of Hansons with Tetradrachm coin from Ancient Greece
Mark Laban of Hansons with Tetradrachm coin from Ancient Greece – credit Hansons

“I arranged to take it along to their Derbyshire headquarters, which is a two-hour journey from my home in Baldock, and, at the last minute, decided to take another  find too. I dug it up it couple of years ago but had no idea if it was worth anything.

“I was weeding the garden, which at the time was in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. I was turning over the turf and saw something glinting in the summer sunshine.  I picked it up and it was an old silver coin. The earth was really dry so wasn’t covered in mud. I put it in my pocket and, later, stuck it away in a drawer.

Tetradrachm coin from Ancient Greece found in garden
Tetradrachm coin from Ancient Greece found in garden – credit Hansons

“I forgot about it but, as I was going to Hansons, I suddenly thought I might as well take it along. I’m glad I did. When I showed it to Charles Hanson he was amazed.”

Charles, owner of Hansons Auctioneers and a familiar face on TV shows like Antiques Road Trip, said: “I was staggered. This large silver coin originated from Ancient Greece. It’s known as a tetradrachm and this example would have been minted during the reign of Alexander the Great in circa 336-323 BC.

“The tetradrachm was nominally equivalent to four drachmae.  Over time it effectively became the standard coin of the Antiquity, spreading well beyond the borders of the Greek World.

“Due to their often high artistic level tetradrachms are keenly collected today, and well-preserved or rare specimens can achieve strong prices.

“The coin found by our client depicts Alexander the Great and the guise of Hercules while the reverse shows Zeus seated.  In its day this coin could have brought luxuries such as jewellery, horses or weapons. It was worth four times a man’s daily wage.

“Its wear is commensurate with it having been in the ground for many years and we expect it to achieve between £200-£300 in Hansons’ Historica and Coin Auction on March 8.”

Meanwhile,  the loft find has already sold for much more than that. It was identified as a late Ming-style archaic ring-handled vessel decorated with a clawed dragon.  It entered Hansons’ January 28 auction with a guide price of £500-£700 and sold for £1,450 to a private UK buyer.

The seller said: “I thought it was some sort of vase when I found it. It must have belonged to my dad. He passed away about five years ago but he liked to collect antiques.”

Charles said: “Our client’s father left his family a rather wonderful gift. It was an impressive result for a forgotten attic treasure. You may think some guys have all the luck but the seller made an effort to seek specialist advice and it paid off. A multitude of valuable objects are gathering dust in countless homes.  You just need to be curious and make time to delve into lofts, garages, cupboards and drawers because the next auction windfall might be yours.”