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The Kempen treasure

The Kempen treasure is one of the largest gold and silver coin treasures found in the Netherlands in recent decades. It was discovered by a man, a Dutch “treasure hunter” whose patience and persistence finally paid off. This treasure is a witness to a historical period, the 16th century, when international trade flourished between the world’s great powers.

A noisy discovery

This treasure is, once again, a credit to the “treasure hunters”, those who spend time searching and whose luck eventually smiles upon them. In the Schulman auction catalog of October 2021, the finder tells in detail about his find. It was one evening when he went for a walk with his metal detector. After a while, he decided to go home as the evening was not productive. He headed for his car, while continuing to shake the machine. At that moment, a faint signal is heard. He decided to dig, thinking he would find something made of aluminum, but one swing of the shovel was enough to hit something yellow and shiny. He took it in his hand, wiped it and there he discovered a disk with an engraving: it was a gold coin! He did not think any further, took a picture and headed for the car, thinking of the look on his relatives’ faces when he would show them this treasure. But as he took a step forward, the detector started ringing again. This time, the signal was strong and constant. He dug again and this time he found a silver coin. He then continued and found piles of coins, sometimes silver, sometimes gold, accompanied by pieces of pottery. He started to put them in the pockets of his jacket, but very quickly the coins overflowed. Then, his briefcase turned out to be too small. He ended up filling his big backpack after having searched the whole area.

What is the treasure of Kempen made of?

It consists of hundreds of silver coins and dozens of gold coins from many different countries. Just like the Dutch finds in Serooskerke in 1966 and Randwijk in 1987, the Kempen treasure also gathers an impressive variety of currencies.

The most recent coin in the find, a Dutch Leeuwendaalder, is dated 1616. It thus gives a reliable indication of the presumed date of the buried treasure. Specifically, the Zwolle Lion Dollar is one of the most popular silver coins used in international trade for nearly two centuries. It circulated in North America and in New Amsterdam (New York), a hub of Dutch maritime trade.

The oldest coin is a Henry VI coin of England, which dates from the second half of the 15th century. As a whole, the Kempen treasure thus covers a period of more than a century and a half. The treasure is varied in terms of period, but also in terms of origin. Most of the coins are Spanish, English and Dutch, but there are also coins from Portugal, France, the Spanish possessions in South America, Germany, Italy and Hungary. Given the value of the find, one can assume that the owner was a wealthy and successful merchant.

A treasure that bears witness to history

All this bears witness to the flourishing international relations of the 16th and 16th centuries. The Kempen treasure is a witness to a prosperous period for the federal state of the United Provinces (present-day Holland). The 17th century is considered the “Dutch Golden Age”. Between 1582 and 1702, it was a period of strong economic, military and cultural growth.

However, the Eighty Years’ War, otherwise known as the Dutch Revolt, was raging. This armed uprising, led by a part of the provinces against the Spanish monarchy, lasted from 1568 to 1648. In 1621, a twelve-year truce ended and hostilities resumed between Spain and the Netherlands. It is perhaps in this atmosphere of tension that the owner decided to bury his treasure to protect it from the troubles of the time…

Thomas Numismatics is a specialist in collectible treasures. We regularly offer coins from pedigrees like this one. Contact us for any specific request.

Sources :
Auction catalog treasure of Kempen

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