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California couple's gold-coin find called greatest in U.S. history

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A cache of 19th century gold coins uncovered by a California couple on their daily walk could end up selling for more than $10 million, making it the greatest buried treasure ever unearthed in the United States, experts said.

Donald Kagin, president of Kagin’s Inc., a numismatic firm that specializes in U.S. gold coins, announced the discovery Tuesday. The company is representing the couple, who wish to remain anonymous.

Identified by the firm only as "John and Mary", the couple told Kagin they couldn’t believe they had made such a big discovery and were grateful for it. They unearthed the coins after noticing an old can sticking out of the dirt on a section of their property, the firm said.

PHOTOS: California couple discovers cache of gold coins

“I thought any second an old miner with a mule was going to appear,” John said in an interview posted on the company's website.

The coins were authenticated, graded and certified by Professional Coin Grading Service in Irvine, Kagin said.

Kagin said in a statement that eight of the rusty cans were filled with more than 1,400 rare and perfectly preserved U.S. gold coins dating from 1847 to 1894. Kagin said the coins have a face value of more than $28,000 but could sell for more than $10 million.

A sampling of the collection is to be displayed at Kagin’s booth during the American Numismatic Assn. National Money Show in Atlanta that will run Thursday through Saturday.

"John and Mary" said they plan to keep some of the coins and sell others on Amazon.com with the intention of donating part of the proceeds to charity.

More important, they said, they will use the money to hold on to their home. They did not explain further.

“Whatever answers you seek, they might be right at home,” Mary said. “The answer to our difficulties was right there under our feet for years.”

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

Twitter: @latvives

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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