Between 2 May and 19 July around 1,000 coins, medals and watches worth £53,000 were stolen from storage from Derby Museum and Art Gallery. There were no signs of a break in, so sadly the police are not ruling out inside knowledge as part of the theft.
Stolen items included:
- About 40 watches (including three 18th-century watches attributed to the scientist John Whitehurst) of which 20 are gold and silver watches from the 18th and 19th Century worth up to £3,000 each.
- Coins ranging from a penny of Henry II from the 12th century to late 20th-century issues of Elizabeth II.
- Two collections of 19th-century trade tokens and medals, including medals from the 1888 Derbyshire Football Cup.
Martin Repton, Derby City Council cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “Our ultimate fear is that some of these items which are of a relative low monetary value could potentially be discarded by the culprit or culprits meaning that they would be lost forever with little chance of recovery.”
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has reported the theft of two items from Nash’s House & New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon: A 17th century bartmankrug and a 16th century Gres de Flandres pot.
Following a security review last year they decided to leave on open display some items with a relatively low financial value. Following the latest incident, probably an opportunistic visitor, they have removed all items from open display.
It’s likely that these items will be very hard to trace, many of Derby’s items have no museum markings and accession numbers on the watches could be easily removed. Anyone with information about the incidents, or the whereabouts of the stolen items, should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555 111.
Put the word out and help raise any awareness in case attempts are made to pass on to other museums or collectors.