A California couple out walking their dog unearthed Gold Rush-era coins worth $10 million buried on their property, a currency firm representing the pair said Tuesday.
The couple dug eight metal cans containing more than 1,400 gold coins dating between 1847 and 1894. A majority of the coins were found to have been minted in San Francisco and reportedly had a combined face value of $27,000. Now, it could fetch up to $10 million or more, and the discovery is regarded to be one of the largest of its kind in U.S. history.
David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service, or PCGS, who authenticated the find, said: “It's quite a story. People were walking along on their property in Northern California, noticed something, began digging and they found cans of gold coins. It should have happened to you and me.”
The treasure has been named the “Saddle Ridge Hoard,” after a hill near which the gold coins were found. The couple, who have chosen to remain anonymous, have not disclosed the exact location where the treasure was found.
One of the coins, a so-called 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, is reported to be valued at $1 million.
David McCarthy, a coin expert at currency firm Kagin's Inc. reportedly said: “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.” He added: “I've never seen this face value in North America and you never see coins in the condition we have here.”
“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,” McCarthy said in a statement. “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.”
According to media reports, the couple had no idea about who put the coins there or who the coins belonged to.
“Somebody could have buried them and then died before they let anybody know where they were,” Hall reportedly said. "Believe it or not, I know cases where they forgot they had something, or they moved or whatever ... It could have been some kind of robbery deal ... Who knows?”
Approximately 90 percent of the coins will be sold on Amazon.com’s collectibles store, while the couple plans to keep the rest, and loan some coins to the American Numismatic Association for its National Money Show, which is scheduled to open this week in Atlanta.
In a statement, Kagin’s Inc. said: "Unlike other hoards and treasures, this one includes a great variety of coins struck over many different years, and many of the coins are still in pristine condition.
"And add to that a wonderful human interest story: this family literally found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."
PCGS President Don Willis said: “The Saddle Ridge Hoard discovery is one of the most amazing numismatic stories I’ve heard. This will be regarded as one of the best stories in the history of our hobby!”
According to Kagin’s Inc., the previous largest reported find of buried gold treasure in the U.S had a face value of $4,500. It was discovered by construction workers in Jackson, Tenn., in 1985 and was eventually sold for around $1 million.