News

California couple finds pot of gold in backyard

California couple finds pot of gold in backyard

GOLD RUSH: David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service, poses with some of 1,427 Gold-Rush era U.S. gold coins, at his office in Santa Ana, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. A California couple out walking their dog on their property stumbled across the modern-day bonanza: $10 million in rare, mint-condition gold coins buried in the shadow of an old tree. Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition, said Hall, who recently authenticated them. Although the face value of the gold pieces only adds up to about $27,000, some of them are so rare that coin experts say they could fetch nearly $1 million apiece. Photo: Associated Press//Reed Saxon

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A trove of rare Gold Rush-era coins unearthed in California last year by a couple as they walked their dog may be the greatest buried treasure ever found in the United States, worth more than $10 million, a currency firm representing the pair said on Tuesday.

The 1,400 gold pieces, dating to the mid- to late 1800s and still in nearly mint condition, were discovered buried in eight decaying metal cans on the couple’s land last April, said coin expert David McCarthy of currency firm Kagin’s.

“We’ve seen shipwrecks in the past where thousands of gold coins were found in very high grade, but a buried treasure of this sort is unheard of,” McCarthy said. “I’ve never seen this face value in North America and you never see coins in the condition we have here.”

Kagin’s has declined to identify the couple, who according to the firm want to remain anonymous for fear treasure hunters will descend on their property in Northern California’s so-called Gold Country, named after the state’s 1849 Gold Rush.

The couple had been walking their dog when they came across a rusty metal can sticking out of the ground and dug it out. After finding gold coins inside they searched further and found the rest of the cache.

Also unclear is who hid the gold pieces, which were minted between 1847 and 1894, in a variety of 19th-century metal cans on land that eventually became part of the couple’s yard.

McCarthy said it was curious that the containers were discovered scattered across one section of the property at different depths, suggesting that they were not all put there at the same time.

The $20 gold pieces appeared to have been new when they went into the ground and had suffered little damage from being in the soil for so long.

McCarthy said the couple wisely refrained from cleaning the coins themselves and brought a sampling of them to him in little baggies, still covered in soil.

“I picked up one of bags. It was an 1890 $20 gold piece. It was covered in dirt,” McCarthy said, recalling when he first saw one of the gold pieces. “An area of the coin was exposed and the metal looked as if it had just been struck yesterday.”

His company took what became known as the “Saddle Ridge Hoard” to an independent coin-grading service, which found that it was comprised of nearly 1,400 $20 gold pieces, 50 $10 gold pieces and four $5 gold pieces. One of the coins, a so-called 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, is said to be valued at $1 million on its own.

“The Saddle Ridge Hoard discovery is one of the most amazing numismatic stories I’ve ever heard,” said Don Willis, president of Professional Coin Grading Service. “This will be regarded as one of the best stories in the history of our hobby.”

McCarthy said Kagin’s will sell most of the coins on Amazon for the couple and that a sampling will be displayed at the upcoming American Numismatic Association show in Atlanta later this month.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Lions’ Raiola suspended 1 game for stomping on opponent

Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola (51) during warm ups before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014.

Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola has been suspended for one game after he stomped on Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson

in Sports

Lightning strike injures 12 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay

Tampa Police Officers talk to spectators after football fans were reportedly taken to the hospital with injuries after a lightning strike near the Raymond James Stadium, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in Tampa, Fla.

A dozen people are recovering after they were injured by an indirect lightning strike at Raymond James Stadium after a game between the Buccaneers and the Packers.

in Sports

Pistons, eyeing younger players, waive Josh Smith

FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2014 file photo, Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith reacts to a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Detroit Pistons announced Monday, Dec. 22, 2014 the club has requested waivers on Josh Smith.

The Detroit Pistons have waived forward Josh Smith, less than two years after signing him to a lucrative free-agent contract.

in Sports

Browns quarterbacks Manziel, Hoyer both injured

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) throws as Brian Hoyer, right, watches before a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field in Detroit, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.

Brian Hoyer hurt his shoulder filling in for injured rookie Johnny Manziel on Sunday, complicating the Browns' messy quarterback situation.

in Sports

Giants second baseman Scutaro has back surgery

san francisco giants logo

San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro has undergone back surgery that could end his career.

Bellingham Traffic