Some people dream of roaming around the Earth to hunt buried treasure. But for one couple from the Sierra Nevada, they didn’t have to go far for that dream to come true.
The couple, a middle-aged husband and wife, has found a real pot of gold while walking their dog in their backyard. They first spotted the side of a rusted can barely emerging from a hillside and dug it out with a stick, took it to their house, and opened it up. Inside was what looked like a batch of discs covered in dirt.
As it turned out, they weren’t just discs, but almost perfectly preserved gold coins with liberty head designs on the front. The 1,427 gold coins were stuffed into rusty cans – the largest reported hoard of gold coins ever unearthed in the United States.
Most were minted in San Francisco between 1847 and 1894, worth an estimated $10 million in today’s market. About a third of the coins were in pristine condition, having never been circulated for spending.
“It was a very surreal moment. It was very hard to believe at first,” the man said in an interview taped by the rare-coin dealer he eventually consulted to make sense of the find. “I thought any second an old miner with a mule was going to appear.”
The couple is keeping their identities and location secret for many reasons, the main one being to prevent treasure hunters from ripping up their land with backhoes.
But two months after the hoard was dug up, they’ve allowed coin dealer Don Kagin of Tiburon, who helped evaluate some of the biggest sunken treasure finds in history, to offer the collection up for sale.
The couple plans to keep a few of the coins themselves and use the money from the rest to pay off bills and donate to local charities. On the other hand, money accumulated from auctions will benefit the effort to turn the Old Mint into a museum.