Dad buried £80k gold in Hackney back yard

By Jessica Elgot, April 28, 2011
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Coins that were hidden during the Blitz

Coins that were hidden during the Blitz

An "unprecedented" gold hoard of rare American coins, buried by a German Jewish man in Hackney, has been dug up and will now be returned to his family.

Retired accountant Max Sulzbacher, whose late father, Martin, hid the gold, said he was "surprised but delighted by the discovery, which has come to light almost 70 years after the coins were buried." Max, 81, who lives in Jerusalem, plans to use the sale of the coins to reward the finders and to restore his family's gravestones in the Jewish cemetery in Enfield.

Martin Sulzbacher fled to Britain from Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and put the 80 "Double Eagle" $20 coins, which date back to 1854, in a City of London safe.

But soon afterwards, Mr Sulzbacher and his immediate family were interned as "enemy aliens" and, fearing that the Nazis could steal the gold from the safe if they invaded Britain, he asked his brother - who was living in London - to take the money out and bury it in the garden of his Hackney home.

Mr Sulzbacher's brother told five family members where he had buried the pot of gold, but all were killed in the Blitz.

Mr Sulzbacher frantically searched the garden when he returned, but could not find the coins. One jar was found when the house was being renovated in 1952 and returned to Mr Sulzbacher, who ran a book shop in Golders Green. He died in Haringey in 1981 and most of his family now live in Israel.

But now another hoard has been discovered in the garden of the same house and a coroner has ruled the 80 gold coins must be returned to his son, Max. Found wrapped in greaseproof paper, inside a glass jar, they are expected to fetch up to £80,000 at auction. The coins were briefly put on display at the British Museum and one has been donated to the local Hackney Museum.

Dr Roger Bland of the British Museum said: "The case of the Hackney gold coins is one of the most unique and compelling stories that we have been involved with. There is an incredibly human element to this discovery that is absent from many archaeological finds."

Last updated: 2:07pm, May 3 2011