(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 (February 25).
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 Don Kagin, President and owner of currency firm Kagin’s Inc.
“This is the first time anything of this magnitude in my career, 46 years, in my lifetime that I know of, that is so broad, in a buried-treasure-way. You don’t think about, maybe you can don some scuba gear and find a shipwreck, but people do go out and think ‘well, maybe I will find some coins’. And, in fact, over the last few decades that we have been here in Northern California, people have brought us gold coins, rare coins, worth tens of thousands of dollars, but nothing, nothing of this magnitude,” Kagin said.
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.
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.
Kagin 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.
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.