A family in Shropshire have discovered a bounty of gold hidden inside an antique piano. An inquest is underway to ascertain whether the find qualifies as treasure defined by the 1996 Treasure Act.

The owners made the find after turning the piano upside down in order to retune it having only recently been given the instrument. They were astonished to discover a hoard of gold and immediately took it to Ludlow Museum Resource Centre.

To qualify as treasure, a discovery of this kind must be at least 300 years old and be significantly made up of gold or silver. In addition, it must have been deliberately hidden by its owner who intended to collect it later and who is presently unknown.

British Museum expert Peter Reavill told the inquest: "These objects were mostly made of gold and appeared to be deliberately hidden. I felt they would likely constitute an item of treasure.

"Although we know what these objects are, we are going to withhold that information. We want the owner or his or her successors to be found," he said, according to the Shropshire Star.

The piano was made by London firm Broadwood & Sons in the early 1900s. It was first sold to a venue in Essex and is also believed to have been purchased by an Essex family in 1983. There are, however, many gaps in the known history of the instrument.

Coroner John Ellery said: "We will gather and evaluate such information that comes to us." He then adjourned the inquest to allow possible claimants of the items to come forward.