The mysterious Saddle Ridge Hoard: Inside the biggest buried treasure ever found in America

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The Saddle Ridge hoard, consisting of 1,411 gold coins, has a value of $10 million, but its origins remain a mystery as nobody knows who buried the coins.

Many of us as children dreamed of finding bags of treasure, and we would read about them in books and play treasure hunt games. However, this California couple's discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard shows that our childhood fantasies can become a reality.

The discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard, which is the largest buried treasure ever found in the United States, is truly remarkable. The mystery surrounding its origins adds to its intrigue, as nobody knows who buried the treasure.

The Discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard

In February 2013, a Californian couple was taking their dog for a stroll along their property when the woman saw what looked like a tin can sticking up out of the soil. After carefully excavating the tinpot from the earth around it, they found 1,411 gold coins minted between 1847 and 1894, worth over $10 million. This find, known as the Saddle Ridge Hoard, was the biggest lost treasure find in American history, reports Allthatinteresting.

The mysterious Saddle Ridge Hoard: Inside the biggest buried treasure ever found in America Robert Alexandre

To this day, no one has any idea how the gold got there in the first place. The coins were buried on the property sometime at the close of the 19th Century, but by whom and for what purpose we will likely never know. Most of the coins came from the San Francisco mint and were from the period of the world-famous California Gold Rush. There are several theories about who buried the gold and why, but we will likely never have a definitive answer.

Jaw-dropping value of the Saddle Ridge Hoard

The coins weren’t valuable simply because of the weight. They were also valuable because they appear to be in such good condition that they were likely never circulated, giving them a value far beyond their simple weight in gold. The face value of the coins is a scant $28,000, which isn’t a heck of a lot of money today but was a small fortune in the year 1900 — $578,000 in 2020 dollar.

Taxes must be paid on such finds, which are considered regular income by the Internal Revenue Service. Still, even taxed as regular income, the take-home pay from a $10 million payday will have the finders sitting pretty for the rest of their lives.

The mysterious Saddle Ridge Hoard: Inside the biggest buried treasure ever found in America Yoray Liberman

Before the discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard, the biggest find was a stash of $4,500 in gold coins that sold for a million dollars in 1985. This was found by city workers in Jackson, Tennessee. There have been other notable lost treasure finds throughout history, such as The Titanic’s Treasure and The Ship of Gold.

Theories surrounding the Saddle Ridge Hoard

One popular theory holds that the coins were buried after a 1901 bank heist where a bank employee made off with about $30,000 in gold coins. But the federal government has come out and said that this cannot be the case because the serial numbers on the coins don’t line up with the coins that were stolen.

Others claim that the gold was buried there by a famous outlaw, usually Jesse James or Black Bart, both of whom were known for robbing stagecoaches. The Knights of the Golden Circle are another proposed candidate, with the belief that this was a gold stash with the purpose of starting the Second Civil War. Finally, there is the prevailing theory: A very wealthy person with an intense distrust for banks buried it there and forgot about it.

The mysterious Saddle Ridge Hoard: Inside the biggest buried treasure ever found in America buyenlarge

The coins presented a numismatist’s dream because it is very rare to find such a large cache of coins together all in one place. Prior to selling the coins, the couple kept their find safely stashed away in an old ice chest buried beneath a pile of wood. The coins were sold on Amazon with certificates of authenticity. The couple, known only as Mary and John, were represented by the noted numismatics firm Kagin in their sale of the coins.

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