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Californian treasure trove disputed


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 US, worth more than $10 million (R107 million), a currency firm representing the pair said. The 1 400 gold pieces, dating from the mid to late 1800’s and still in nearly mint condition, were discovered buried in eight decaying metal cans on the couples’ land last April, said coin expert David McCarthy of currency firm, Kagin’s.


“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,” McCarthy said. The couple, who have chosen to remain anonymous, 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. The gold pieces were minted between 1847 and 1894 and were found in a variety of 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. McCarthy said the couple wisely did not clean the coins and planned to sell their windfall on Amazon.
In a subsequent development, the San Francisco Chronicle has now linked the find – now called the Saddle Ridge Treasure Trove – to a robbery at the San Francisco Mint. It published a newspaper report from January 1, 1900, referring to the recent theft, which it said mostly involved mint, uncirculated coins, with an overall face value of $27 000 – similar to the Saddle Ridge trove.

Kagin’s company boss, Donald Kagin, said he was nonetheless very confident that the Saddle Ridge trove was not linked to the San Francisco Mint theft. “There are a number of reasons why they can’t possibly be connected,” he said. He cited records from the time of the San Francisco theft suggesting it involved five canvas sacks filled with $20 coins – whereas the Saddle Ridge find also contained $10 and other coins. In addition, the stolen coins “would have all been mint state, recently struck coins,” he said. “But only some of the coins in the Saddle Ridge find are.” Kagin re-iterated that plans to sell the treasure remained in place.  


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