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As good as any gold story can get

Sale of the 1,427 Saddle Ridge Treasure gold coins will occur in May, Don Kagin of Kagin’s, Inc., told me March 4 for Numismatic News Express. A specific date will not be known until some time in April.

“By April we will have a date set,” Kagin said. He is “dealing with the collectibles and fine arts division” of Amazon, which will sell 90 percent of the hoard online.

He said the staff there is excited.

The million dollar finest known 1866-S No Motto gold $20 and other rarities in the hoard will be sold online at Timing will match the Amazon offerings.

“The cheapest coins will be $2,500,” Kagin explained.

“We’re still pricing some of the coins. There are over 70 different dates and mintmarks,” Kagin said.

The highest graded coin is an MS-66+. The Professional Coin Grading Service has slabbed them all after Kagin senior numismatist David McCarthy professionally cleaned them, which in hobby parlance is called restoration.

“We did restoration,” Kagin explained, before they were shipped to PCGS for grading.

Unfortunately, even McCarthy could not undo what the couple who found the coins on their Northern California property did to some of the coins, which they discovered while walking their dog in February 2013.

“Over 200 were unprofessionally cleaned by the owner,” Kagin lamented. These were slabbed by PCGS but given no grades.

The urge to clean coins by noncollectors and the damage they cause could not be clearer than in this instance.

Kagin said he hoped it would be a lesson to novices out there.

Interest in the coins is running high.

“We’ve already gotten offers for the whole deal from at least three sources,” Kagin said.

Why did he reject them to take the Amazon sales route?

Kagin called the opportunity to sell these coins a “wonderful boon to numismatics. There are 200 million newcomers on Amazon.”

By selling them, Kagin said he hoped “to brand them and increase the potential participation in our hobby and our industry.”

His firm will donate a one-year subscription to the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, The Numismatist, to all who buy the coins. Unsuccessful bidders will get three months of virtual membership, he said.

Some coins were on display at the ANA convention in Atlanta and at the Chicago Paper Money Expo, which was held the following week March 6-9.

Kagin noted of the public in Atlanta, “They were lined up.”

Kagin batted away an online theory that the coins were stolen from the San Francisco Mint in a 1901 heist.

“There are several reasons why that couldn’t happen,” he said. He added that McCarthy would address the particulars.

Officials at the San Francisco Mint said there were no links to the theft of $30,000 in gold coins in 1901.

The theory relies on the similar sum involved. Face value of the Saddle Ridge Hoard is $27,980. Also, the San Francisco Mint is located in Northern California, in the same general area as where the hoard was found.

Use the link to check out the theory.

Kagin summed up the nonstop attention he is getting by saying, “This is as good as it gets. We’re very lucky. We don’t want to squander this wonderful opportunity.”

What’s my opinion?

Kagin is right. This is a wonderful opportunity. The attention, the headlines and the theories that precede the sales of these coins can only increase their value to potential buyers.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."