Gold coins from 1800s worth $10 million found buried in Gold Country

gold-coins-saddle-ridge.jpgThis story seems a bit too perfect to be what it is, but here ya go. A self-employed couple with property somewhere in California's Gold Country of the Sierra foothills say they fortuitously dug up cans of buried gold coins. The loot proved real enough — 1,427 coins dated from 1847 to 1894, most minted in San Francisco, some apparently never circulated — with a face value of $27,980. Today they should be worth about $10 million.

The couple's names and the location of their find are being kept private. A coin dealer in Tiburon is handling sale of the coins. The San Francisco Chronicle has a story and an online gallery of coin photos. Excerpt:

Professional Coin Grading Service of Irvine, one of the world's foremost coin-assessment firms, evaluated the hoard and certified that 13 of the coins are either the finest-preserved known examples of their kind, or tied for that rating.

How all that cash came to be underground in the Northern California mountains is a mystery. Was it loot from a stagecoach robbery? Some miser's life savings?

"The family and the attorneys researched who might have put them there, and they came up with nothing," Kagin said. "The nearest we can guess is that whoever left the coins might have been involved in the mining industry." He also reckons the cans were buried at various times.

However or wherever they were found, the collection is going to rock the coin-collecting world, said Donn Pearlman, spokesman for the national Professional Numismatists Guild. Kagin will offer a presale glimpse of some of the coins at the American Numismatic Association's National Money Show, a three-day event that starts in Atlanta on Thursday.

"It is always amazing when even a single gold coin is found, let alone more than 1,000 of them that date back to the Gold Rush era," Pearlman said. "This will cause a tremendous amount of excitement."

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Sierra stories on LA Observed:
'There’s something sacred about this place'
New tarantula near Folsom Prison named for Johnny Cash
Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village to get new names
Sierra snowpack is more than double last year at this time
Mammoth gets 3 feet of snow, plans to open Thursday
Ansel Adams' Manzanar photos are in town
Sierra snowpack was probably the worst in 500 years
Is the drought killing the giant Sequoias? (video)