The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 10, March 9, 2014, Article 14


Martin Kaplan writes:

I vote last week's issue the #1 E-Sylum because of your work on the "Saddle Ridge Gold Hoard". A Iot more to this story than first reported and what has been making the headlines. Great job!

Ron Ward writes:

The definitive reference on coin find laws can be found on the internet. It is an article by John M. Kleeberg with hundreds of legal citations. The article is: The Law and Practice Regarding Coin Finds - Treasure Trove Law in the United States.

California does not have treasure trove laws. However, Kleeberg points out that sales of coins from hoards are subject to Federal taxes and are considered as ordinary income, not capital gains. A very important consideration concerns the owner of the land: private?, Federal or State?, Indian land? In the latter case, everything is confiscated.

To read the complete article, see: THE LAW AND PRACTICE REGARDING COIN FINDS Treasure Trove Law in the United States (

Here are excerpts from an article interviewing Kagin's senior numismatist David McCarthy. -Editor

The rare coin expert who is helping a California couple sell $10 million in gold pieces they dug up said Tuesday that there is no way the mother lode came from a 1900 heist at the San Francisco Mint.

That theory has been floating around since the so-called Saddle Ridge Hoard — a cache of 1,427 coins minted between 1847 and 1894 and buried under a tree in cans — came to light last week.

But David McCarthy, senior numismatist for Kagin's, said it's about as likely as a three-dollar bill.

Even though the number and value of the coins swiped from a cashier's vault at the mint match the hoard, McCarthy reeled off a list of reasons they're not one and the same:

  • The mint's vault probably would have held bags containing coins from a single year with identical mint marks, but the hoard is much more diverse.
  • The hoard contains many coins that were heavily circulated, but the mint would have melted down and reissued those, not stored them.
  • There are 50 $10 gold coins in the hoard. Those were never mentioned in accounts of the mint heist, also known as the Dimmick Defalcation.
  • The hoard's coins don't have what experts call "bag marks," which they would expect to see on coins that had been vaulted for any length of time.
  • None of the hoard coins have dates after 1894, which would mean they would have been stored for six years at a minimum if they were from the mint job. "Who keeps 6-year-old inventory, especially of something that is not hard to get rid of?" McCarthy said.

Based on where the coins were discovered a year ago, McCarthy thinks they were amassed by someone doing a lot of a business in gold and who buried each can as soon as it was filled up, possibly over a span of 20 years.

An unexpected death would explain why they were abandoned — only to be found by the anonymous couple walking their dog on their property a century later.

"You can't take it with you," he said.

Well, as I noted last time, we will probably never know for sure where this hoard came from. As a believer in Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation that fits all the facts is the one most likely to be true, While I'm unconvinced that the Dimmick connection can be completely ruled out, the private stash explanation seems quite reasonable and quite likely true. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Bunch of bullion: Dealer says gold coin hoard not from heist (

Dealer and longtime E-Sylum reader Doug Winter published a commentary on the hoard on CoinWeek. Here are a couple excerpts I found particularly interesting; be sure to read the whole article online. -Editor

What I find fascinating about this story is that it is the first great “treasure “ to be found in the day of Web 2.0. When the lost 1913 Nickel was rediscovered a few years ago, it certainly made the rounds on the web, but stayed mainly in numismatic circles. And when the greatest find of them all, the S.S. Central America, was discovered oh so many years ago, there wasn’t even an internet around for the story to go viral; it had to build its momentum over the course of months; not moments.

Much of the information I read online about the source and origin of the coins was seemingly invented by reporters who never bothered to check their source(s), and some blatantly wrong numismatic information was written by “news” sources who should have known better. Stolen coins…uh, I don’t think so. Special presentation piece made to commemorate the death of President Lincoln…? Nope.

Wrong information aside, the coins provided the gold coin market was the type of exposure you’d have to spend millions of dollars to generate. It was a true viral buzz and any coin story that doesn’t involve a Long Island telemarketer swindling a little old lady for her life savings is a good story in my book.

One thing that will be interesting to see is how the collectors who focus on shipwreck coins view this hoard. As an example, “unique” coins from the S.S. Central America (i.e., coins which were one of a kind from the shipwreck) now bring a huge premium due to their collectability; something which was not the case even six or eight years ago. What sort of premium will the only Dahlonega half eagle from this hoard be accorded? My guess is that the premium will be quite significant, and that these coins will be collected alongside the S.S. Central America, Brother Jonathan and S.S. Republic shipwreck coins.

To read the complete article, see: The Saddle Ridge Gold Coin Hoard: Some Thoughts (

Here's another one of the theories that have cropped up online. -Editor

Numerous theories have cropped up since the discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard was announced last week.

Another suggests the coins may have been buried by the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secretive, subversive Confederate group that some believe buried millions in ill-gotten gold across a dozen states to finance a second Civil War.

Though the coins very well could be a fortune buried by a wealthy businessman, the time period, markers near the cache and manner in which the coins were buried fit the mold of the KGC, said Warren Getler, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who coauthored “Rebel Gold,” a book about the group.

Getler and coauthor Bob Brewer argue in the book the KGC existed for many decades after the Civil War and continued to bury and protect underground gold and silver caches.

To read the complete article, see: Gold coins found by California couple unlikely stolen from U.S. Mint (,0,3666293.story#axzz2vP7GtuVr)

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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