As kids, many of us dreamed of finding large bags of treasure. We read them in books and even played treasure hunts to simulate these fantasies. What we thought could only happen in our wildest imaginations was the reality of a California couple who found $10 million worth of rare gold coins buried underneath their property. This incredible story completely checks out our childhood fantasies. The couple, who have chosen to remain anonymous, was walking on their property and saw something that made them start digging until they found several buckets of gold coins. According to the California couple, they’d walked past that spot for years, not realizing there was $10M worth of gold coins underground. The eight cans of coins they dug out contained 1,427 gold coins. Experts believe it to be the most valuable coin discovery in US history.
The Saddle Ridge Hoard
The 1,427 gold coins found by this couple in Sierra Nevada, California, have been named the Saddle Ridge Hoard. This hoard dates back to between 1847 and 1894. It contained $5 coins totaling $20, $10 coins totaling $500, and $20 coins totaling $27,460. So, at face value, these coins add up to $27,980. However, after assessment, the treasure trove was found to be worth around $10 million based on current estimates.
For privacy reasons, the couple’s names have been kept secret. They chose instead to use the pseudonyms, John and Mary. Similarly, the location of this discovery has been kept anonymous since 2013 when the discovery was made. The only information in the public domain about the location is that it’s in Gold County. Also, the find is close to one of the 1849 Gold Rush sites. Expectedly, the couple prefers that their home location, ownership history, and identity remain private. This was necessary to prevent people from treasure-hunting around them and trespassing on their property, searching for more gold.
The Discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard
In their account, the California couple lived on the property for many years and walked around that spot without the slightest idea that their home was sitting on a treasure chest with $10M worth of gold coins. However, in previous years, they had noticed strange things in the area that they didn’t pay much attention to. For instance, they once saw an old empty can hanging from a tree that had grown around it. This suggests that the can must have been there for a long time. They thought the can was probably used to mark a grave or hold flowers.
At some point, they also found a rock with an odd shape close to a nearby hill. They named the odd-looking rock “Saddle Ridge.” Little did they know they were getting closer to a hoard of gold coins. It was after finding the gold coins that it dawned on them that the hanging can, the oddly-shaped rock, and other unique geographic features of the area were markers for the original owner of the gold hoard. The center point of this stashed treasure is ten steps between the North Star direction and the jagged rock.
On the day they unearthed the treasure, they were walking their dog along the trail. They spotted a metal can covered with rust probing from under the ground. The couple decided to remove it and discovered it was stuck. They dug it out of the ground and found it heavier than expected. Initially, they thought it contained lead paint. However, as they carried it to their house, it cracked open and showed the edge of a gold coin.
Returning for More
After digging out the first bucket, the couple got some handy tools from their home and returned to the site to see if they would find anything else. As it turned out, this was only the first of eight cans they would find at the site. They found the second can almost a foot from where they found the first. It was rustier and partially decomposed, but it also had more coins.
They continued digging with their tools before they decided to use a metal detector. It turned out to be a brilliant idea because they were able to locate eight cans with 1,427 coins. After the discovery, the couple hid their find in an ice chest and buried it under a wood pile in an undisclosed location. They took their time to research before contacting a numismatics firm that’s representing them to date.
Theories to Explain the Origin of the Saddle Ridge Hoard
Since the California couple discovered the $10M worth of buried gold coins in 2013, people have put forward several theories to explain the origin of the coins. The most common speculation is that the coins are part of the $30,000 worth of coins that were declared stolen at the San Francisco Mint by one of the employees, Walter Dimmick. However, this speculation has been denied and ruled out by the US Mint.
The US Mint stated that the hoard of gold couldn’t have been proceeds of the 1901 heist because of its condition and the difference in face value. They made the statement in March 2014, denying links between the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins and the US Mint facility, adding that they’ve done their research and would be going for it if it was government’s property.
Other theories for the origin of the coins are that it’s part of the loot that Black Bart (a notoriously popular stagecoach robber) took or one of the hidden stashes that Jesse James, a popular bank robber from the 19th century, buried. Another theory put forward is that the Saddle Ridge Hoard is part of several treasures which the Knights of the Golden Circle hid away to be used for funding another civil war if it arises.
However, the most popular and more likely theory is that an unknown person chose to hide or save their coins by burying them underground. This was either because they didn’t trust the bank enough to keep their wealth or because it was illegal.
Although the exact location where this treasure was found is unknown, and the couple’s identity is anonymous, that hasn’t stopped many people from coming forward and trying to claim some share or all of the gold coins. These individuals assert that it belonged to their associates or one of their late relatives.
Selling the Saddle Ridge Hoard
With the help of the numismatics firm representing them, the California couple has reached an exclusive deal with Amazon to sell some of their $10 million worth of buried gold coins through Amazon’s collectible stores. This would be the first significant coin sale to happen on Amazon. The couple has decided that the funds will be used to service their debt, and donations will be made to several charity organizations. They’ve also chosen to keep some of it for keepsakes and family heirlooms.
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- Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddle_Ridge_Hoard
- All That's Interesting, Available here: https://allthatsinteresting.com/saddle-ridge-hoard
- Time, Available here: https://time.com/13071/saddle-ridge-hoard-gold-coins