California couple finds fortune in gold coins

saddle ridge hoard

A couple from California’s Sierra Nevada region last spring stumbled across what is believed to be the largest hoard of gold coins ever uncovered in the US, a treasure that will soon be going up for sale.

The pair was walking their dog on their property, located in the same region where the famed 1849 Gold Rush began, when they came across a decaying canister protruding from the ground.

Digging the can out with a stick, they took their find home, pried it open and, to their amazement, found hundreds of $20 gold pieces, all from the 19th century.

When the couple, who have remained anonymous to keep modern-day prospectors from tearing up their property, returned to the site, they located another similar-sized container and six smaller ones, all full of specie.

In all, the pair found 1,427 gold coins.

Nearly all were $20 Double Eagles, while 50 were $10 gold pieces and four were $5 Half Eagles. Most were minted in San Francisco, but one was a $5 gold piece from the mint at Dahlonega, Ga., which only operated from 1838 to 1861.

The coins dated to between 1847 and 1894 and were stacked in approximate chronological order. The oldest coins were in the first can and the “newer” ones were in subsequent cans.

“The arrangement of coins and the varying condition of the cans suggest they were buried by someone over the course of years rather than the result of a single caper like a bank robbery,” according to The History Blog.

The total face value of the coins is $27,980, but the numismatic value is estimated at more than $10 million.

About a third of the coins were in pristine condition, having never been circulated for spending, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

One of the more than 1,400 gold coins uncovered last spring by a Northern California couple.

One of the more than 1,400 gold coins uncovered last spring by a Northern California couple.

Fully 13 of them are either the finest examples known to exist or tied for the finest, and one of the $20 pieces, an 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, is estimated to be worth $1 million alone.

The find has been dubbed the Saddle Ridge Hoard, after the spot on the couple’s property where it was found.

According to “American Coin Treasures and Hoards,” a resource of buried treasure finds, the biggest hoard of gold coins dug up before Saddle Ridge was a collection found by construction workers in Jackson, Tenn., in 1985. It had a face value of $4,500 and sold for $1 million, according to the Chronicle.

About 90 percent of the coins will be posted for sale on Amazon.com’s Collectibles site, probably in May. The rest will be sold to private collectors, the publication added.

The couple, who are in their 40s and are self-employed, have said they plan to donate some of the proceeds to the homeless and hungry in their area.

They also plan to keep a few coins as keepsakes.

(Top: David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service, in Santa Ana, Calif., poses with some of 1,427 gold coins found last spring by a Northern California couple out walking their dog. Photo credit: The Associated Press.)

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6 thoughts on “California couple finds fortune in gold coins

  1. I saw this on the news this morning! Amazing. Just goes to show that there are still hidden treasures out there- be they gold coins or archeological wonders- waiting to be discovered!

    • Yes, it’s kind of nice when treasure is found. It will spark a thousand more legends.

      It’s also interesting that most of coins were made from gold that was mined in the same area where they later found.

  2. Amazing. I can’t even imagine how such a find would change my life. The history here is really cool too. I wonder why the burier’s posterity never knew it was there.

    • Good question. I wonder if he was a miser who simply kept to himself and didn’t trust banks or his family, or had no family. Whatever the reason, he obviously took it to the grave.

      I’ve got to say that if I found 1,400 gold pieces that I’d probably lay them all out at least once and swim in them, like Scrooge McDuck.

    • It’s nice to see something like that, isn’t it? I’ve got a feeling their story will turn out a little different than many of the people who hit the lottery and end up bankrupt five years later.

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