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Eighty gold coins minted between 1854 and 1913 found in a Stoke Newington back garden last year, will be returned to the descendants of a German refuge.
The coins, which constituted the smuggled savings of Martin Sulzbacher, a Jew who fled Nazi Germany in 1938, are the property of his son Max Sulzbacher, Dr Andrew Scott Reid, coroner for Inner North London, ruled.
Max Sulzbacher’s family hid the jar of American “double eagle” gold dollars in 1940 amid fears banks would be raided by invading Germans. But they were killed when a German bomb struck their Stoke Newington home – taking the knowledge of the precise whereabouts of the coins to the grave.
The coins will be auctioned by Spink auctioneers of Bloomsbury and hope to fetch between £80,000 and £90,000.
Mr. Sulzbacher has donated a single $20 ‘Double-Eagle’ coin to the Hackney Museum and agreed to an ex-gratia payment to the finders.
Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Community Services, Cllr Jonathan McShane said: “This is an incredible story spanning over 70 years. Hackney has such a colourful history and this personal account gives an insight into how war affected families who had settled in the borough. Mr. Sulzbacher’s generous donation means the council can display it in Hackney Museum and keep the story alive for generations to come.”
Martin Sulzbacher bought the coins in Germany after selling all his property and smuggled them to England. When war broke out he was interned as an alien and sent abroad – first to Canada and, when the ill-fated Arandora Star he was sailing on was torpedoed and sunk, to Australia.
His wife and four children, including Max, were interned on the Isle of Man. Another five members of the family remained in Stoke Newington and buried the coins before being killed in the Blitz in September 1940. On his release Martin Sulzbacher arranged for the garden to be searched – without success.
Then in 1952 another 82 gold American $20 coins, were found while construction on a building was going on. They were awarded to Mr Sulzbacher.
Mr Sulzbacher who is a retired Charted Accountant, now lives in Jerusalem and is said to be “surprised and delighted” and will be using the proceeds to restore the families crumbling gravestones in Enfield.
The coins can still be viewed at the British museum for another week.