This is the stuff of dreams or the movies. But it happened in real life to one Sierra Nevada couple when they literally found buried treasure in their backyard.
When they dug it all up, the couple had a trove of 19th century U.S. gold coins stuffed into rusty cans. Their worth: $10 million.
It’s believed to the biggest “collection” of gold coins ever unearthed in the United States, said the San Francisco Chronicle. The Sierra Nevada mountain range stretches mostly north-south inside California, much of it along the Nevada border. The California Gold Rush began at Sutter’s Mill, near Coloma, in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada in 1848.
This modern-day saga began last year as the couple walked their dog on their property and noticed the top of a decaying canister poking out of the ground.
They dug the container out and took it to their house. Inside, they found what looked like a “batch of discs covered in dirt from holes rotted through the can,” the Chronicle said.
After a little brushing, they saw perfectly preserved $20 gold coins with liberty head designs on the front, dated from the 1890s.
They rushed 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. About a third of the coins were in pristine condition, having never been circulated for spending. Most were minted in San Francisco.
“It was a very surreal moment. It was very hard to believe at first,” the man said in an interview taped by the rare-coin dealer he eventually consulted. “I thought any second an old miner with a mule was going to appear.”
The couple are keeping their identities and location secret. “The main reason being is to prevent treasure hunters from ripping up their land with backhoes,” the paper said. But they let coin dealer Don Kagin of Tiburon to offer the collection up for sale.
The collection is dubbed the Saddle Ridge Hoard, after the spot on the couple’s property where it was found. The collection is expected to sell for at least $10 million, either as a whole or in pieces, based on their evaluated condition.