It really does depend, and can vary from region to region. Often Hoards can be found in old springs, water holes or oasis areas in arid countries. They were often safely hidden before the invention of Banks but unfortunately the owners never returned.

In Europe Hoards are often found with Metal Detectors, as an example in the UK there are hoards found every year by enthusiasts. These are then reported to the local “Finds Liaison Officer” .It is then decided if they will be purchased by a Museum or returned to the finder and land owner to keep. At this point if they are returned to the finders they generally need to pay the landowner half of the value so get offered for general sale.

What we look for when we buy hoards of coins?

We have a lot of experience of buying ethically obtained hoards of coins. We pass on more than we buy. But generally speaking there are a few basic principles that we use to determine quality.

  1. Range of size and quality of coins, it is important to us that we purchase at the top of the supply chain before they have gone through numerous hands. A good rule here is that “genuine unmolested hoards” still contain all the “premium” quality coins as well as the larger coins.
  2. Silver coins are often found in hoards, and generally among the first types of coins to be removed. If we get offered hoards with poor size and quality of coins along with no Silver it rings alarm bells and we pass them up.
  3. Variety is always important; people hate cleaning one after another of the exact same coin. Having a very narrow range of coins in a hoard can often be a sign of picking.
  4. Hoard finds and artefacts, such as rings, brooches, and other items are often found with hoards of coins. Sometimes you will find hoards with just coins in and you judge those on the first three points as above. But jewellery and ancient artefacts is always a good sign of a nice hoard.
  5. Having odd coins stuck together is always a good sign when buying hoards. But the problem is in hotter countries they are more often than not stuck together. This is because of the lack of water and often they can be buried in sand. In the UK on the other hand they are fairly often stuck together, however the conditions are so wet that it can lead to virtual destruction of the actual coins.

In summary it comes down to experience! We only purchase coins with export approval from ethical sources in countries that support the legal and recorded supply of coins. Or as an example, release paperwork from the PAS here in the UK. This ensures an excellent provenance for our stock, whereby the context of the finds or collections have been recorded properly. Typically this requires a hands on inspection from the appropriate authorities before the paperwork is issued. We keep copies of all paperwork that is available for inspection at our offices, and we encourage people to take an active interest in only buying ethically obtained coins. This does however preclude us from selling coins from the Balkan region for example, however we are proud not to do this, and ask our customers to also take a stand. Please read this article.