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Old February 25th, 2014, 04:01 PM   #1
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Saddle Ridge Hoard

Northern California couple find $10M worth of rare gold coins buried on property

Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition, said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, which recently authenticated them.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 4:33 PM

The value of the "Saddle Ridge Hoard" treasure trove is estimated at $10 million or more.

LOS ANGELES — A Northern California couple out walking their dog on their property stumbled across a 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 David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, which 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.

“I don’t like to say once-in-a-lifetime for anything, but you don’t get an opportunity to handle this kind of material, a treasure like this, ever,” said veteran numismatist Don Kagin, who is representing the finders. “It’s like they found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

Kagin, whose family has been in the rare-coin business for 81 years, would say little about the couple other than that they are husband and wife, are middle-aged and have lived for several years on the rural property in California’s Gold Country, where the coins were found. They have no idea who put them there, he said.

The pair are choosing to remain anonymous, Kagin said, in part to avoid a renewed gold rush to their property by modern-day prospectors armed with metal detectors.

They also don’t want to be treated any differently, said David McCarthy, chief numismatist for Kagin Inc. of Tiburon.

“Their concern was this would change the way everyone else would look at them, and they’re pretty happy with the lifestyle they have today,” he said.

They plan to put most of the coins up for sale through Amazon while holding onto a few keepsakes. They’ll use the money to pay off bills and quietly donate to local charities, Kagin said.

Before they sell them, they are loaning some to the American Numismatic Association for its National Money Show, which opens Thursday in Atlanta.

What makes their find particularly valuable, McCarthy said, is that almost all of the coins are in near-perfect condition. That means that whoever put them into the ground likely socked them away as soon as they were put into circulation.

Because paper money was illegal in California until the 1870s, he added, it’s extremely rare to find any coins from before that of such high quality.

“It wasn’t really until the 1880s that you start seeing coins struck in California that were kept in real high grades of preservation,” he said.

The coins, in $5, $10 and $20 denominations, were stored more or less in chronological order in six cans, McCarthy said, with the 1840s and 1850s pieces going into one can until it was filed, then new coins going into the next one and the next one after that. The dates and the method indicated that whoever put them there was using the ground as their personal bank and that they weren’t swooped up all at once in a robbery.

Although most of the coins were minted in San Francisco, one $5 gold piece came from as far away as Georgia.

This is one of the six decaying metal canisters filled with 1800s-era U.S. gold coins unearthed in California by two people who want to remain anonymous. The value of the "Saddle Ridge Hoard" treasure trove is estimated at $10 million or more.

Kagin and McCarthy would say little about the couple’s property or its ownership history, other than it’s located in Gold Country, a sprawling, picturesque and still lightly populated section of north-central California that extends east of Sacramento to the Nevada line, running through the hills and valleys of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

The coins had been buried by a path the couple had walked for years. On the day they found them last spring, the woman had bent over to examine an old rusty can that erosion had caused to pop slightly out of the ground.

“Don’t be above bending over to check on a rusty can,” Kagin said she told him.

They were located on a section of the property the couple nicknamed Saddle Ridge, and Kagin is calling the find the Saddle Ridge Hoard. He believes it could be the largest such discovery in U.S. history.

One of the largest previous finds of gold coins was $1 million worth uncovered by construction workers in Jackson, Tenn., in 1985. More than 400,000 silver dollars were found in the home of a Reno, Nev., 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.


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Old February 27th, 2014, 11:30 AM   #2
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The Saddle Ridge Gold Coin Hoard

By Lance Ulanoff

The "Saddle Ridge Treasure" is what many are calling the now-historic discovery of $10 million worth of gold coins buried in decaying tin cans on the property of one very lucky — and anonymous — California couple.

These 1,427 Liberty head coins were minted between 1855 and 1894, and were actually discovered a year ago in eight canisters dotting the couple’s Northern California property. The 19th century coinage has since been authenticated by Kagin’s, a California-based agency that authenticates U.S. currency, and the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Next week, a sampling of the coins will go on display at the American Numismatic Association National (ANA) Money Show in Atlanta.

As people look over the plastic-encased coins, each with a special gold-colored “Saddle Ridge Hoard” PCGS certification foil, they may wonder where such a hoard came from.

We may have found the answer.

“It’s extremely unusual to find this many U.S. coins, especially gold, all together in one place. It’s a very special and unusual hoard,” said ANA Director Douglas Mudd, who also served as collection manager at the Smithsonian Institution National Numismatic Collection for over a decade.

Mudd told Mashable that while stockpiles of paper and even coin U.S. currency have been found before, the next largest discovery was worth $4,500 in face value (not the market value of the gold, but the denomination total). According to the PCGS, the majority of these coins are $20 denomination Liberty Double Eagles struck at the San Francisco Mint. With approximately 1,400 gold coins, that gives them a total face value of roughly $28,000 — remember that number.

The coins were found in badly decaying, unmarked tins buried — some up to 1 foot deep — somewhere in Northern California. Safe to say that someone didn’t want them to be found.

Even Mudd wonders about the circumstances. “How did $28,000, which was a lot of money back then, come to be buried in that spot?”

Mudd said there are a number of ways such a hoard is created. Often, they come from people who didn't trust banks, stashing away all their money in a hiding spot — like a mattress, underground vault or tin they buried in the back yard — which was known only to them. They die before retrieving their stored cash, and someone else stumbles upon it years later.

The other option is more of the classic movie western style where bandits make off with the money, but with the authorities in hot pursuit. So they bury the loot and come back later to retrieve it — unless they never get to.

“There are a lot of possibilities, but I haven’t heard anything to suggest what could have happened,” said Mudd.

There are, of course, ways to figure out what happened. The Kagin company, which is overseeing the Saddle Ridge Exhibition and sale of the coins on Amazon.com, hasn’t offered much information about the provenance of the coins, but Mudd says they could potentially date the cans “if there’s enough info on them.”

Kagin’s Communication Director Kirsten Marquette told Mashable, however, “I’ve seen the cans in person and you can’t see anything on them. They’re rusted.”

Another option is doing a lost property or theft search.

“Was there a major theft or did something happen where these coins went missing at some point?” pondered Mudd.

Considering that these coins had probably been buried for more than a century, we dug through microfiche files from old California newspapers, ones that were in print in the 19th century, like the San Jose Mercury News. Luckily, Google has been digitizing a tremendous amount of dead-tree media, including out-of-print books, magazines and newspapers.

A search on Books.google.com for “stole,” “1000,” “gold,” “coins,” “from” “San Francisco.” brings up a curious note from an the Bulletin of The American Iron and Steel Association, an industry newsletter published every two weeks by an organization now known as the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Tucked into the Aug. 10, 1901 issue, between political and financial notes and the latest obituaries was this little tidbit:

“The sum of $30,000 in gold coin has recently been stolen from the vault of the cashier of the San Francisco Mint. No trace has been found of the missing gold.”

We were unable to find any other reference to that theft or any similar theft within any other archive document, so we reached out to the source.

When Mashable first spoke to American Iron and Steel Institution Manager of Communications Rachel Gilbert about the bulletin, she had no idea what we were talking about. “We deal with iron and steel. We do not cover the gold industry. Maybe you should try to talk to the gold institute.”

Still, she agreed to take a look at the link and get back to us.

A few hours later Gilbert confirmed that the Bulletin was from the AISI (then known as the American Iron and Steel Institute). “At the top of the document it lists the leadership staff of institute at that time. I was able to verify that it was us.” She told Mashable that the staff at the AISI was “pretty amused” by the discovery and thought she might spend some time perusing the century-old newsletters.

Obviously, the report of the theft comes six years after the latest mint date on the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins. Still, if the coins were taken from the Mint cashier, they may have pulled them from a certain area where similar denominations and mintings were all gathered together. The news was big enough that it made an industry trade sheet, but owing to how news traveled back then, it did not become legendary.

Perhaps the thieves did as Mudd imagined. They had their hoard, but were being chased and simply buried all of it with a plan to return, dig it up and live a very happy life.

When we contacted the U.S. Mint to see if they have any records of such a theft, Adam Stump deputy director, Office of Corporate Communications quickly deflated our balloon, “We have no information linking those coins to any thefts at any United States Mint facility. Surviving agency records from the San Francisco Mint have been retired to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), under Record Group 104. Access to the records is under NARA’s jurisdiction: http://www.archives.gov/”

Apparently Stump forgot about Walter Dimmick. According to a post on the U.S. Mint’s own “H.I.P. Pocket Change” children’s website, Dimmick worked as a chief clerk at the San Francisco Mint between, according to AlteredDimensions, 1898 and 1901. In a post called “Thieves Among Us,” the U.S. Mint describes how the San Francisco Mint discovered that six bags of gold coins worth $30,000 had gone missing.

Since [Dimmick] had already been caught learning to sign the Superintendent's name (forgery), taking money from the pay envelopes of other Mint employees (theft), and stealing other government funds in his care, a jury eventually found him guilty of stealing the $30,000 in gold double eagles and of two other charges.”

Dimmick went to prison and the 1,500 gold coins were never found.

Until, perhaps, now.




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Last edited by excalibur; February 27th, 2014 at 11:33 AM.
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Old February 27th, 2014, 12:49 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by excalibur View Post
The Saddle Ridge Gold Coin Hoard

By Lance Ulanoff

The "Saddle Ridge Treasure" is what many are calling the now-historic discovery of $10 million worth of gold coins buried in decaying tin cans on the property of one very lucky — and anonymous — California couple.

These 1,427 Liberty head coins were minted between 1855 and 1894, and were actually discovered a year ago in eight canisters dotting the couple’s Northern California property. The 19th century coinage has since been authenticated by Kagin’s, a California-based agency that authenticates U.S. currency, and the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Next week, a sampling of the coins will go on display at the American Numismatic Association National (ANA) Money Show in Atlanta.

As people look over the plastic-encased coins, each with a special gold-colored “Saddle Ridge Hoard” PCGS certification foil, they may wonder where such a hoard came from.

We may have found the answer.

“It’s extremely unusual to find this many U.S. coins, especially gold, all together in one place. It’s a very special and unusual hoard,” said ANA Director Douglas Mudd, who also served as collection manager at the Smithsonian Institution National Numismatic Collection for over a decade.

Mudd told Mashable that while stockpiles of paper and even coin U.S. currency have been found before, the next largest discovery was worth $4,500 in face value (not the market value of the gold, but the denomination total). According to the PCGS, the majority of these coins are $20 denomination Liberty Double Eagles struck at the San Francisco Mint. With approximately 1,400 gold coins, that gives them a total face value of roughly $28,000 — remember that number.

The coins were found in badly decaying, unmarked tins buried — some up to 1 foot deep — somewhere in Northern California. Safe to say that someone didn’t want them to be found.

Even Mudd wonders about the circumstances. “How did $28,000, which was a lot of money back then, come to be buried in that spot?”

Mudd said there are a number of ways such a hoard is created. Often, they come from people who didn't trust banks, stashing away all their money in a hiding spot — like a mattress, underground vault or tin they buried in the back yard — which was known only to them. They die before retrieving their stored cash, and someone else stumbles upon it years later.

The other option is more of the classic movie western style where bandits make off with the money, but with the authorities in hot pursuit. So they bury the loot and come back later to retrieve it — unless they never get to.

“There are a lot of possibilities, but I haven’t heard anything to suggest what could have happened,” said Mudd.

There are, of course, ways to figure out what happened. The Kagin company, which is overseeing the Saddle Ridge Exhibition and sale of the coins on Amazon.com, hasn’t offered much information about the provenance of the coins, but Mudd says they could potentially date the cans “if there’s enough info on them.”

Kagin’s Communication Director Kirsten Marquette told Mashable, however, “I’ve seen the cans in person and you can’t see anything on them. They’re rusted.”

Another option is doing a lost property or theft search.

“Was there a major theft or did something happen where these coins went missing at some point?” pondered Mudd.

Considering that these coins had probably been buried for more than a century, we dug through microfiche files from old California newspapers, ones that were in print in the 19th century, like the San Jose Mercury News. Luckily, Google has been digitizing a tremendous amount of dead-tree media, including out-of-print books, magazines and newspapers.

A search on Books.google.com for “stole,” “1000,” “gold,” “coins,” “from” “San Francisco.” brings up a curious note from an the Bulletin of The American Iron and Steel Association, an industry newsletter published every two weeks by an organization now known as the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Tucked into the Aug. 10, 1901 issue, between political and financial notes and the latest obituaries was this little tidbit:

“The sum of $30,000 in gold coin has recently been stolen from the vault of the cashier of the San Francisco Mint. No trace has been found of the missing gold.”

We were unable to find any other reference to that theft or any similar theft within any other archive document, so we reached out to the source.

When Mashable first spoke to American Iron and Steel Institution Manager of Communications Rachel Gilbert about the bulletin, she had no idea what we were talking about. “We deal with iron and steel. We do not cover the gold industry. Maybe you should try to talk to the gold institute.”

Still, she agreed to take a look at the link and get back to us.

A few hours later Gilbert confirmed that the Bulletin was from the AISI (then known as the American Iron and Steel Institute). “At the top of the document it lists the leadership staff of institute at that time. I was able to verify that it was us.” She told Mashable that the staff at the AISI was “pretty amused” by the discovery and thought she might spend some time perusing the century-old newsletters.

Obviously, the report of the theft comes six years after the latest mint date on the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins. Still, if the coins were taken from the Mint cashier, they may have pulled them from a certain area where similar denominations and mintings were all gathered together. The news was big enough that it made an industry trade sheet, but owing to how news traveled back then, it did not become legendary.

Perhaps the thieves did as Mudd imagined. They had their hoard, but were being chased and simply buried all of it with a plan to return, dig it up and live a very happy life.

When we contacted the U.S. Mint to see if they have any records of such a theft, Adam Stump deputy director, Office of Corporate Communications quickly deflated our balloon, “We have no information linking those coins to any thefts at any United States Mint facility. Surviving agency records from the San Francisco Mint have been retired to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), under Record Group 104. Access to the records is under NARA’s jurisdiction: http://www.archives.gov/”

Apparently Stump forgot about Walter Dimmick. According to a post on the U.S. Mint’s own “H.I.P. Pocket Change” children’s website, Dimmick worked as a chief clerk at the San Francisco Mint between, according to AlteredDimensions, 1898 and 1901. In a post called “Thieves Among Us,” the U.S. Mint describes how the San Francisco Mint discovered that six bags of gold coins worth $30,000 had gone missing.

Since [Dimmick] had already been caught learning to sign the Superintendent's name (forgery), taking money from the pay envelopes of other Mint employees (theft), and stealing other government funds in his care, a jury eventually found him guilty of stealing the $30,000 in gold double eagles and of two other charges.”

Dimmick went to prison and the 1,500 gold coins were never found.

Until, perhaps, now.




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