Imagine this: you take your dog out for a walk on your property. You’re strolling down a trail you’ve walked down for years, but today something catches your eye. It’s just the lip of a rusty can that’s popped out of the ground, but you bend over to take a closer look and pull it out of the ground. Inside, you find a stack of mint condition gold coins, glinting in the sunlight. You begin digging and find another and another and another. All told, you’ve just found about $10 million in gold.
This once-in-a-lifetime story recently happened to a couple from a sparsely populated region of Northern California that stretches east from Sacramento to Nevada over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Their property is located in the same area where the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill sparked the California Gold Rush.
The couple, who have lived on the property for several years, have chosen to remain anonymous so that this find doesn’t spark another gold rush. They also want their lives to remain relatively normal. Numismatist Don Kagin, who has been chosen by the couple to handle the evaluation and sale of the coins, says “It’s like they found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
The find, which Kagin is calling the Saddle Ridge Hoard, may end up being the largest discovery of buried treasure in U.S. history. The 1,427 gold coins in denominations of $5, $10, and $20 were stored in chronological order from 1847 to 1894. Nearly all of them are in uncirculated, mint condition, which indicates that the hoard was an underground bank for an unidentified individual who must have lived on the property back in the 19th century.
"We all dream about discovering buried treasure; seeing the real thing in person — piles of gold coins encrusted in dirt and rust — the experience was just indescribable," said Kagin's senior numismatist, David McCarthy. "Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine coins coming out of the ground in the kind of condition that I saw in front of me. Many pieces were finer than anything known in major collections or museums."
While the couple plans to sell most of the gold coins, they’re going to keep a few as mementos of their big find. And before they offer the rest up for sale, they loaned some of the rare pieces to the American Numismatic Association for the National Money Show, which opened on February 27 in Atlanta. One highlight of the cache is an 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle valued at close to $1 million.
The whole story is like a fairytale, really, but Kagin says one of the finders had a good recommendation for anyone who dreams of digging up a buried treasure. She said, “Don’t be above bending over to check on a rusty can.” Based on what this California couple found in some rusty cans under an old tree, that sounds like some pretty solid advice.
If you’d like to learn more about gold or are interested in buying — or selling — a gold jewelry, coins or bullion, come see the experts at Bellevue Rare Coins in Bellevue and Lynnwood.
Bellevue Rare Coins specializes in gold buying and dealing in rare coins. We are a family-owned business located in Bellevue and Lynnwood. We also buy and sell gold, silver, diamonds, currency and jewelry. Visit us first for a free evaluation.
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