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Leave No Can Unturned

Leave No Can Unturned

May 16th 2019

Saddle Ridge Hoard

Photograph by Kagin's Inc. - David McCarthy, Kagin's Inc. under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license 

You’re out walking your dog with your beloved, enjoying the day, when suddenly something catches your eye on a path you’ve walked a hundred times before. You go over to investigate, wondering how this rusty piece of metal has managed to escape your notice. A stick is used to free the object from its earthen resting place — it turns out to be a very heavy, very rusty metal can. You haul it back to your house, but on the way the lid comes off and you gasp as you see the glint of gold…

This is the stuff of legends, right? Not so. In 2013, a couple in California stumbled upon the remarkable treasure buried on their property. The Saddle Ridge Hoard as it became known, turned up eight decrepit cans containing over 1,400 gold coins minted between 1847 and 1894 and had an estimated value of over $10 million smackeroos at the time of discovery. Can you even imagine?!

To date, the Saddle Ridge Hoard remains the largest coin hoard ever discovered in the United States. Two factors contribute to making it such a phenomenal discovery: the sheer quantity of coins and the condition in which they were found. Many of the coins appeared to be uncirculated or have very little wear. The face value of the coins was around $28,000 (a princely sum to be buried in the late 1800s) consisting of mostly $20 double eagles. The hoard yielded some of the finest specimens known to exist, among which was an 1866-S Liberty Head No Motto Double Eagle valued at around $1 million.

Found in California gold country, the exact location of the hoard has been kept secret, as well as the full identity of the lucky duo who unearthed it. (In interviews, they are John and Mary, but are those really their names?) Why was the hoard buried in the first place — was it from a bank heist? It seems unlikely, as experts agree that the coins were buried over a span of time, but who buried it? Was the original owner an old prospector with a mistrust in banks? Speculations abound, but it’s unlikely the mystery will ever be solved. 

The Saddle Ridge Hoard turned into the proverbial pot of gold. The moral of the story? Keep your eyes open. You never know what you might find...


Image Source: By Kagin's Inc. - David McCarthy, Kagin's Inc., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3...