Couple finds rare 19th century coins buried in rusty cans on their property

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"Couple finds rare 19th century coins buried in rusty cans on their property"
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A Northern California couple, going for a daily stroll on their property with their dog, made an amazing discovery. Buried on their grounds was a treasure trove worth up to $10 million. The treasure, which had been found stored in rusty old tin cans, held a large number of rare gold coins. The find was actually made last year, but announcement and news of the discovery is just now being made public.

A remarkable discovery

The remarkable discovery was found by a couple, identified only as "John" and "Mary", on their property which is located in the California gold region. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, at first they found one dirty can, but when they cleaned out the contents, they were stunned and went back to the spot where they'd found it and dug around some more.

In total, the couple found eight cans, and the coins were all 19th century, dated from 1847 to 1894. The treasure consisted of over 1,400 "perfectly preserved" rare coins, reported the Los Angeles Times. Most were minted in San Francisco and some had never been circulated for spending. Based on the circumstances and the condition of the cans, it appears the money was buried "over a significant period of time" sometime during the late 1800s. There is reportedly no identifying information on the rusted cans.

The find has been dubbed the "Saddle Ridge Treasure".

Valuable treasure

In addition to the historical value attached to the coins, the 19th century money is worth quite a bit in today's market. Kagins, Inc., a company that specializes in rare coins that is representing the couple, said in a news release the face value of the coins is about $28,000; the numismatist at Kagin's indicated the treasure could be worth over $10 million. This find is believed to be the "greatest buried treasure ever unearthed in the United States," Kagin's said. Each coin has reportedly been authenticated and is the real deal. Itemized, the cans contained:

  • Approximately 1,400 $20 gold pieces
  • Fifty $10 gold pieces
  • Four $5 gold pieces

Notably, one of the coins was an 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle (estimated at about $1 million in itself).

"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 David McCarthy, Kagin's senior numismatist who the couple had consulted. "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."

How the money got there is a mystery. The San Francisco Chronicle questioned, "Was it loot from a stagecoach robbery? Some miser's life savings?" Mashable did some research and published a report that theorizes some possibilities.

Plans for the coins

The couple has reportedly been struggling financially, and plan to sell the majority of the coins in order to pay off debts. Ironic that the answer to their problems to hold onto their home was buried on its property all this time.

"Whatever answers you seek, they might be right at home," Mary said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The answer to our difficulties was right there under our feet for years."

The coins will be up for sale in the near future via's collectibles store. After the couple settles financial issues, the duo did say they plan to  donate some of the proceeds to charity and keep some of the coins.

Before this find, the previously largest find of buried treasure in the United States was in 1985 in Tennessee. The money found had a $4,500 face value, but later sold for $1 million.

More about this author: Leigh Goessl

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