California couple's buried gold coins go for sale

May 27 2014, 4:52pm CDT | by

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A treasure trove of rare gold coins that were discovered by a California couple out walking their dog last year are set to go on sale. The nearly 1,430 coins date from 1847 to 1894 and have been valued at more than $11 million. One will be auctioned at the Old San Francisco Mint on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Most of the rest will go on sale on and Kagin' later at night. Here are five things to know about the coins and their origin:


Experts say paper money was illegal in California until the 1870s, so it's extremely rare to find any coins from before that period. Additionally, most of the coins are in mint condition, having been stashed away seemingly immediately after they were minted. They were valued by Don Kagin, a numismatist who is handling the sale and marketing of the coins.


Kagin says the couple — a middle-aged husband and wife — does not want to be identified in part to avoid a gold rush on their rural Northern California property by modern-day prospectors. They discovered the coins in eight cans buried in the shadow of an old tree on the property. They plan to keep a few of the coins themselves and use the money from the rest to pay off bills and donate to local charities. Money from Tuesday's auction will benefit the effort to turn the Old Mint into a museum.


Most of the coins were minted at the San Francisco Mint, according to Kagin. It's not clear, however, who put them in the ground or how they were obtained, though theories have abounded. Kagin says people have linked the coins to stagecoach bandit Black Bart, outlaw Jesse James and a theft at the San Francisco Mint, but none of the theories has panned out.


The treasure consists of four $5 gold pieces, fifty $10 gold pieces, and 1,373 $20 double eagles. Among the coins that will be on display Tuesday is the crown jewel of the collection — an 1866-S No Motto $20 gold piece valued at more than $1 million.


Kagin calls this coin find the largest such discovery in U.S. history. One of the largest previous finds of gold coins was uncovered by construction workers in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1985 and valued at $1 million. More than 400,000 silver dollars were found in the home of a Reno, Nevada, man who died in 1974 and were later sold intact for $7.3 million. Gold coins and ingots said to be worth as much as $130 million were recovered in the 1980s from the wreck of the SS Central America. But historians knew roughly where that gold was because the ship went down off the coast of North Carolina during a hurricane in 1857.


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Associated Press</a>
The Associated Press (AP) is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Amazon Black Friday 2015 Sale is Live: The Best Deals
Amazon Black Friday 2015 Sale is Live: The Best Deals
The Black Friday 2015 sale on Amazon is an 8 Day event.
Amazon Black Friday 2015 Deals Unveiled
Amazon Black Friday 2015 Deals Unveiled
The Black Friday 2015 Deals offered in the Amazon Black Friday 2015 Sale are here.
Sam&#039;s Club Holiday Savings Celebration Sale 2015 Kicked Off Online
Sam's Club Holiday Savings Celebration Sale 2015 Kicked Off Online
The Sam's Club sale on Saturday November 14 is the first big Black Friday 2015 sale of the year and the Black Friday deals are online now ahead of the stores opening.
Find Hot Black Friday 2015 Deals
Find Hot Black Friday 2015 Deals
The Black Friday 2015 Ads are rolling advertising the Black Friday 2015 deals.