Couple finds $10million in gold coins while walking their dog

The couple found the mint-condition coins on their property in the US

Los Angeles

As they take their daily walk through a section of their property that they call Saddle Ridge, John and Mary pass by an old tree growing into a hill. Years ago, the 40-something couple from northern California noticed an empty, rusted can hanging from one of its branches. “We thought the can might be a place for someone to put flowers in for a grave site,” John said. It turned out to be a site marker, all right – but not for a grave.

One day last February, while strolling past the tree with their dog, Mary bent down to where a second can was sticking from the earth, uncovered by erosion. “Don’t be bending over to check on a rusty can,” her husband told her. But Mary was curious about its contents, so they dug the heavy vessel out with a stick and carried it home. What they found inside is now thought to be the largest haul of buried treasure ever discovered in the US.

The can was filled with 19th- century gold coins. The couple raced back to the tree and dug up seven more, eventually unearthing more than 1,400 rare and pristine US coins dating from 1847 to 1894. The cache, since christened the Saddle Ridge Hoard, has a face value of more than $28,000 (£16,800), but rare coin experts say it could eventually fetch more than $10m.

The couple, who have chosen to remain anonymous, were so shocked by their find that their first response was to rebury the coins under their woodpile while they decided how to proceed.

Donald Kagin, the president of numismatic firm Kagin’s Inc, which represents John and Mary (not their real names) announced the find in a statement, saying “This family literally found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

Until now, the largest such find on US soil was a hoard of gold found by construction workers in Jackson, Tennessee in 1985, which had a face value of $4,500 and sold for approximately $1m. A single coin from Saddle Ridge – the 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle – is valued at around $1m.

The couple’s property sits in California Gold Country, the region where prospectors flocked from around the world following the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento in 1848: the California Gold Rush. In an interview posted on the Mr Kagin’s website, John said that he felt the hand of history as he and Mary uncovered the coins. “I thought any second an old miner with a mule was going to appear,” he said.

The coins were authenticated by Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, California, whose co-founder David Hall said the majority were uncirculated and in mint condition. The 1,427 coins came in $5, $10 and $20 denominations and were mostly minted in San Francisco. Attempts to identify the coins’ original owner have so far proved fruitless.

John and Mary reportedly intend to sell around 90 per cent of the coins through Amazon’s specialist Collectibles site, and will donate some of the proceeds to local charities that support the homeless and hungry in their area.

The couple’s new fortune will also allow them to settle their debts and keep their home. “Like a lot of people lately, we’ve had some financial trials,” John said in the interview on the Kagin’s site. “I feel extreme gratitude that we can keep our beloved property.”

His wife said: “Whatever answers you seek, they might be right at home. The answer to our difficulties was right there under our feet for years. Don’t be above bending over to check on a rusty can!”

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears