US Coins

2014 Top 10 Stories: Saddle Ridge gold hoard found in California

Editor's note: The Top 10 Stories of 2014 have been judged by Coin World staff to be the most impactful and memorable numismatic stories of the past year. They are not ranked in any particular order.

See all of the Top 10 Stories of 2014

Every day for years a California couple walked with their dog in the hills of California gold country unaware that right below their feet was a buried gold coin hoard.

But one day in February 2013 they found what eventually came to be known as the “Saddle Ridge Hoard,” consisting of 1,427 19th century gold coins in eight metal canisters.

In February 2014, Kagin’s Inc. in Tiburon, Calif., made news of the hoard public. Don Kagin, president of the firm, put the value of the coins at $10 million plus.

The majority of the coins, which range from 1847 to 1894, are Coronet $20 double eagles struck at the San Francisco Mint from 1855 to 1894. 

The coins were certified by Professional Coin Grading Service, and more than a dozen of the coins were either the finest or tied for the finest PCGS has graded for the specific date and Mint. 

David McCarthy, senior numismatist at Kagin’s, performed the initial evaluation and inventory of the treasure and is marketing the hoard.

McCarthy said that the couple had walked this path for years and one day saw an old rusty can that had popped slightly out of the ground. The hoard got its name from the couple’s nickname for the property: Saddle Ridge. 

The couple, in their 40s and self-employed, wished to remain anonymous.

McCarthy called his experience in working with the couple and the coins “incredible,” adding, “We all dream about discovering buried treasure; seeing the real thing in person — piles of gold coins encrusted in dirt and rust.”

The highlight of the hoard is an 1866-S Coronet, No Motto gold $20 double eagle graded PCGS Mint State 62 that is the finest known certified by the grading service. Kagin’s estimates its worth at around $1 million. 

Approximately 90 percent of the coins were made available for purchase via retailer Amazon. Visit, type “Collectibles & Fine Art” into the search box, then search for the term “Saddle Ridge.” Some 137 coins from the hoard were still available at Amazon as of Dec. 23. 

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