Scotland's Biggest Coin Collection Stolen

A unique collection of approximately 1000 coins valued at over £500,000 was stolen from the home of Lord and Lady Stewartby who live in the village of Broughton near Peebles.

A reward of £50,000 has been offered for information leading to the recovery of the coins which include coins dating back to the reign of King David the First in 1136.

Lord Stewartby, who is a former government minister and is regarded as the country’s leading expert on Scottish coins said that he started his unique collection when he was just ten years old and wrote his first book on the subject when he was still in his teens. He said that he hardly ever kept the coins in his home but had been collating them before the thieves struck on the night of June 6 and June 7.

Lord Stewartby and his family were away on holiday at the time of the robbery and Lord Stewartby said, "I don’t normally keep so many of the coins at my domestic premises but I had brought them from London to be taken to the National Museum in Edinburgh to be catalogued and photographed. There was not enough time to do that before we went on holiday and I decided to wait until we returned. It was unfortunate timing to say the least. It was a particularly devastating blow to lose the entire collection which is in effect an archive of a particular period in Scottish history. The unity of the collection is important and for that reason we are offering a substantial reward for its return and preferably intact".

Nick Holmes, a senior curator in numismatics at the ‘National Museums of Scotland’, said, "Speaking as an academic I would say that without doubt the loss of these coins has put back the study of numismatics fifty years because if the collection is not recovered all of the work Lord Stewartby has put in over the past half century will be lost. In terms of that period, Lord Stewartby had more coins in his collection than the National Museums of Scotland have. He had managed to collect a number of very rare pieces which were previously unknown”.

All of the coins in the collection were minted in Scotland between 1136 and the reign of Alexander III in the late 13th century and Lord Stewartby acquired the coins from dealers, auction houses and fellow collectors.
It will apparently very difficult for the thieves to sell the rarest coins in Britain because most dealers would realise they were from the stolen collection.

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman added: “This collection is a unique part of Scottish history and its loss cannot be underestimated. We have carried out a significant amount of inquiry so far and are now appealing to the public for help. We would appeal to anyone who may have information as to the whereabouts of the collection or anyone who has been offered some rare and unique coins to get in touch”.

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