Gold coins buried in cans for decades in the hills of California are getting their day in the sun.
Known as the Saddle Ridge Hoard, the coins went on sale at midnight May 27 on amazon.com and kagins.com.
The 1,427 gold coins coins date from 1847 to 1894 and are estimated to be worth about $11 million.
“Over $1 million in coins sold in a couple of hours,” said Don Kagin, president of Kagin’s, Inc., the firm handling the sale of the coins.
In the first 24 hours of the sale Amazon had moved 346 coins totaling $1,396,097 and Kagin’s had sold 225 coins totaling $2,426,475, Kagin said.
The hoard consists of four $5 gold pieces, 50 $10 dollar gold pieces and 1,373 $20 double eagles.
More than 1,300 of the coins were minted at the second San Francisco Mint, which is where the first of the coins was put up for auction.
The couple who discovered the buried treasure donated an 1874-S $20 double eagle worth an estimated $4,250 for an auction held at the old Mint on May 27. Proceeds will be used to renovate the Mint and develop an on-site museum.
Kagin called the auction, which brought $15,000 for the coin.
And then the sale was on.
“We are delighted not only with the response to the Saddle Ridge Hoard offering of the coins but with the breath of interest by so many individuals, especially so many individuals new to the field of numismatics,” Kagin said.
More than 1,000 coins were put up for sale on the Amazon site, with the rest, including some of the more valuable coins, on sale on the Kagin site. But by the end of the first day of sales, the Kagin site had fewer than 100 coins left.
Among the coins still available after the first day of sales was the top lot, an 1866-S No Motto $20 gold coin valued at $1 million.
And on the second day of the sale, Amazon offered “14 Finest Saddle Ridge Coins in Original Can (1866-1894) Set Various” for $2,750,000, and free shipping.
This set includes an example of each of the finest known or tied-finest $20 gold pieces found in the Saddle Ridge Hoard. It also includes the can in which the 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle was found.
The couple who found the coins – a middle-aged husband and wife from northern California – kept just a few coins, Kagin said.
As for where the coins originated, there have been a lot of theories. Kagin said people have linked the coins to stagecoach bandit Black Bart, outlaw Jesse James and a theft at the San Francisco Mint, but none of the theories has panned out.
Kagin called this coin find the largest such discovery in U.S. history.
One of the largest previous finds of gold coins was uncovered by construction workers in Jackson, Tenn., in 1985 and valued at $1 million.
More than 400,000 silver dollars were found in the home of a Reno, Nev., man who died in 1974 and were later sold intact for $7.3 million.
Gold coins and ingots said to be worth as much as $130 million were recovered in the 1980s from the wreck of the SS Central America. But historians knew roughly where that gold was because the ship went down off the coast of North Carolina during a hurricane in 1857.