Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Old Money

(Chronicle photo)
A California couple has unearthed history's largest find of buried gold coins, approximately $10 million worth:
The bonanza emerged last year as the man and woman were walking their dog on their property in the Gold Country and noticed the top of a decaying canister poking out of the ground.

They 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 from holes rotted through the can.

They weren't just discs.

A little brushing revealed nearly perfectly preserved $20 gold coins with liberty head designs on the front, dated from the 1890s. They ran back to the same spot, and when they were done digging, they'd found a total of eight cans containing 1,427 coins - with a face value of $27,980.

A total of 1,373 were $20 coins, 50 were $10 coins and four were $5 coins. They were dated from 1847 to 1894, and after sprucing up they shone like, well, gold - which fortunately never corrodes. About a third of the coins were in pristine condition, having never been circulated for spending. Most were minted in San Francisco.
Despite its name, the Gold Country in Central California has not shared in the tech boom of the coastal regions.
The couple, who are in their 40s and are self-employed, told [coin dealer Don] Kagin and [numismatist David] McCarthy they want to donate some of the proceeds to the homeless and hungry in their area. They also plan to keep a few coins as keepsakes.

"Like a lot of people lately, we've had some financial trials," the man told Kagin in the recorded interview. "I feel extreme gratitude that we can keep our beloved property."
Once our envy subsides, we always get a warm feeling when good fortune comes to good people who could really use it.

[Update - 3/4: Uh-oh, they may not get to keep their find. The coins may have been stolen from the San Francisco mint in 1900.]

No comments: