There’s gold in them thar backyard.
A Northern California couple taking their dog out for a walk stumbled on what may be the largest find of buried treasure in U.S. history: $10 million in 100-year-old gold coins, stuffed in six metal cans under a tree on their property.
The 1,427 coins are mostly in mint condition, with at least one expected to fetch as much as $1 million, according to a statement from Tiburon, Calif.–based coin dealer Kagin, which is marketing the coins.
“This family literally found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” said Kagin’s president, Donald Kagin, in a statement. “What’s really significant about this find is that unlike other hoards and treasures, this one includes a great variety of dates, many of which are in pristine condition.”
The couple, identified only as “John and Mary,” wishes to remain anonymous, in part to prevent a new California gold rush taking place on their property.
In an interview on the Kagin’s site, John said that even though he had often walked in that area, this was the first time he noticed a can sticking out of the ground.
John said the first can was so heavy, he thought it was lead paint.
“I couldn’t figure out what in the world would weigh that much,” he explained. “[Then] the lid cracked off and exposed a rib of a single gold coin.… It was a very surreal moment. It was very hard to believe at first. I thought any second an old miner with a mule was going to appear.”
The couple eventually found five more cans and located a sixth with the help of a metal detector.
The find comprises almost 1,400 $20 gold pieces, 50 $10 gold pieces, and four $5 gold pieces, which date from 1847 and 1894. Based on the dates and condition of the coins, it is believed they were buried over a period of time in the late 19th century. Professional Coin Grading Service of Irvine, Calif., has authenticated the coins.
One of the coins
Some 90 percent of the loot will be sold on Amazon Collectibles, but the couple may keep a “representative sample.” They also hope to donate some of the money to the arts and to their local community.
As far as what the couple has learned from all this, Mary says: “Whatever answers you seek, they might be right at home. The answer to our [financial] difficulties was right there under our feet for years. Don’t be above bending over to check on a rusty can.”