The largest cache of gold treasure thought to ever be unearthed in North America is on display this weekend at a Nevada antique show, providing the public with a rare opportunity to see the nearly perfectly preserved coins in person before they are sold later this month.
Called the Saddle Ridge hoard, the roughly 1,400 U.S. gold coins date from 1847 to 1894. They were found in nearly mint condition inside eight rusty cans by a couple taking a walk on their property in California's gold country in February.
The cache has a face value of more than $28,000 but could fetch more than $10 million when put up for sale near the end of the month, according to Kagin's Inc., the numistmatic firm that evaluated the find and is representing the unidentified couple who found it. At least 13 of the coins are the finest known of their kind, according to the firm.
Among them is an 1866 $20 coin printed without the “In God We Trust” motto, known as the 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, said David Hall, cofounder of Professional Coin Grading Services in Irvine, who authenticated the coins.
The coin was valued at around $1 million, experts said.
Donald Kagin, president of Kagin's, which specializes in U.S. gold coins, said the couple want to remain anonymous for fear treasure hunters will descend on their Northern California property.
Identified as John and Mary by Kagin's, the couple had walked the path on their property for years before they spotted the edge of a rusty can peeking out of the moss in February 2013. When the lid cracked off, they found dirt-encrusted coins, some in better condition than those on display in museums.
The couple said they planned to keep some of the coins and sell others with the intention of donating part of the proceeds to charity. More importantly, they said, they will use the money to hold on to their home.
In the time since the find was publicly announced in February, no credible claims to the coins have been received, according to Kagin's, including the U.S. Mint, which debunked theories that it was tied to a heist in San Francisco in 1901.
The previous largest reported find of buried gold treasure in the U.S. had a face value of $4,500. It was discovered by construction workers in 1985 in Jackson, Tenn., and eventually sold for around $1 million.
Saddle Ridge hoard coins will be available for public viewing Friday and Saturday at the Old West Antique Show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds northeast of Yuba City, Calif.
The coins will be available for sale on Amazon.com at 9 p.m. PDT, May 27.