More than 300 gold sovereigns - many of which were found in an old sock - have sold for £118,000 at an auction in Hertfordshire.

Auctioneers from Hanson Ross in Royston were stunned to uncover gold worth around £100,000 while carrying out a routine house clearance in Leicestershire.

The Comet: Australian Queen Victoria gold sovereign from 1875Australian Queen Victoria gold sovereign from 1875 (Image: Hanson Ross)

The team was checking through a linen chest, and right at the bottom found 331 gold coins hidden among sheets, pillow cases and an old sock.

The haul of sovereigns span three centuries, from Queen Victoria's reign in the 1800s to the 21st century.

They were sold at Hanson Ross in an auction on Wednesday, January 17. Each coin was valued at between £300 and £500, and the collection achieved a total of £118,000, with buyer's premium (£90,768 at the hammer).

The Comet: Queen Victoria gold sovereign dated 1846Queen Victoria gold sovereign dated 1846 (Image: Hanson Ross)

Hansons owner Charles Hanson said: "It was an amazing find, made after a client instructed us to clear a house.

"Our team are renowned for being thorough. They check over every inch of a house. It’s not just about fine or fragile objects on display, it’s the hidden items that are often the most valuable.

"These are found in drawers, wardrobes, cupboards, bags and, in this case, even an old sock. People have a multitude of hiding places. Sometimes it’s a case of hide and seek.

The Comet: King George V 1911 gold sovereignKing George V 1911 gold sovereign (Image: Hanson Ross)

"In this case workers were checking through the attic and linen in a bedroom chest when the coins were discovered.

"You can imagine their amazement. First they saw the golden glint of one gold coin, then handfuls emerged.

"Some were hidden in a pillow case and many others were tucked away in a sock. Our client was flabbergasted and delighted in equal measure. They had no idea the house contained a treasure trove of gold.

The Comet: Queen Elizabeth II 1974 gold sovereignQueen Elizabeth II 1974 gold sovereign (Image: Hanson Ross)

"You hear about people stashing cash under the bed but this was quite extraordinary. Normally gold of this value would have been kept locked away in a safe or bank vault.

"The coins were most probably amassed over many years but no-one, aside from their late owner, knew they existed.

"The coins were in hot demand under the hammer because gold is sought after and prices are strong. The collection sparked a white glove sale, an auction term used when every single lot sells."

The Comet: Queen Elizabeth II 2018 gold sovereignQueen Elizabeth II 2018 gold sovereign (Image: Hanson Ross)

The sovereigns included coins dating back to the early years of Queen Victoria's reign, which began in 1837. The earliest Victorian sovereign was minted in 1846 while another was dated 1901 - the year of her death.


Other monarchs depicted on the coins included King Edward VII, King George V and Queen Elizabeth II.

Charles said: "It was like a walk through 300 years of history.

The Comet: Queen Victoria 1901 gold sovereignQueen Victoria 1901 gold sovereign (Image: Hanson Ross)

"The collection captured the passage of time due to different monarchs represented on the sovereigns. They also reminded us of the length of their reigns.

"Due to long periods on the throne, Victoria and Elizabeth’s coin profiles alter through the decades."

Hanson Ross is based at Unit 1, Lumen Road, Royston, and offers auction and valuation services.

The Comet: Charles Hanson with some of the gold coinsCharles Hanson with some of the gold coins (Image: Hanson Ross)