US Coins

Gold coin hoard totaling 800+ pieces found in Kentucky

A multimillion-dollar hoard of more than 800 U.S. Civil War era coins was recently unearthed in a cornfield somewhere in the state of Kentucky.

Original images courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Co.

A multimillion-dollar hoard of more than 800 U.S. Civil War-era coins was recently found in a cornfield somewhere in the state of Kentucky. The cache includes 741 Coronet and Indian Head gold dollars, a number of key date and finest known 1863 Coronet $20 double eagles and small numbers of Coronet $10 eagles and Seated Liberty silver issues.

The gold dollars are dated from 1850 through 1862.

All of the excavated coins, being promoted under the “Great Kentucky Hoard” label, are now authenticated, graded and encapsulated by Numismatic Guaranty Co., following conservation by NGC affiliate Numismatic Conservation Services.

The hoard is to be marketed within the next several months by

Hoard alert

Veteran Kentucky numismatist Jeff Garrett from Mid American Rare Coin Galleries in Lexington says the unnamed finder, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted him roughly three months ago seeking numismatic advice and arranged to meet him at his coin store. Garrett met with him and was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the man’s find.

“While I’m always excited when someone calls asking for advice about a rare coin discovery, the opportunity to handle The Great Kentucky Hoard is one of the highlights of my career,” Garrett said. “The importance of this discovery cannot be overstated, as the stunning number of over 700 gold dollars represents a virtual time capsule of Civil War-era coinage, including coins from the elusive Dahlonega Mint. Finding one Mint condition 1863 Double Eagle would be an important numismatic event. Finding nearly a roll of superb examples is hard to comprehend.”

The location where the hoard was discovered is not being disclosed, other than being described as a cornfield in Kentucky. Garrett said most of the coins were found loose in the ground, although at least one had remnants of a cloth bag adhered to it, suggesting the possibility the coins were in a cloth bag when buried in the ground.

One of the 1863 Coronet double eagles carries damage from farm equipment used in preparing the field for planting.

Important role

According to NGC, “During the American Civil War, the state of Kentucky played an important role, as it bordered Union states in the north and Confederate states in the south. Situated as such, tensions were high from the beginning of the nation’s unrest, and when the war began in 1861, Kentucky Governor Beriah Magoffin asserted the state’s neutrality with the ‘Kentucky Declaration of Neutrality.’

“Despite the Declaration of Neutrality, the Civil War was a time of great turmoil in Kentucky. Many families were pitted against one another, and Kentucky saw much conflict. The Great Kentucky Hoard may have been a result of this conflict, with the coins lost for over 150 years, until they were unearthed in a cornfield. Details of the location and finder will remain confidential.”

David Camire, NCS president and NGC grading finalizer, said examining and conserving each coin also allowed him to identify several errors and varieties among the coins. 

Editor's note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the hoard was found by a metal detectorist.
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