The world only knows them as John and Mary. They understandably want to remain anonymous after finding a stash of gold coins that had been buried on their property in eight cans for decades. The 1,411 coins are worth $28,000 face value, $2 million if melted for the gold and an estimated $10 million in collectible value.
The Los Angeles Times reported these details about the “Saddle Ridge Hoard,” the largest ever found in U.S. history:
When I heard the story on the news one morning this week, I told our daughter to go get our son and tell him to take the dog for a walk. You never know what you might find!
The story also got me excited about using my metal detector again. My wife bought it for me for Christmas in 2012 and gave me some accessory equipment this past Christmas. I’ve only used it once on my father’s property in West Virginia, and the only coin I found was a wheat penny from the 1940s. (I also found an old, rusted pocket knife and other metallic odds and ends.)
But we’ve only just begun. We have more than 30 acres to search. National Geographic’s coverage of the Saddle Ridge Hoard says there are few hoards of gold coins in the United States.
Here’s a quote from Douglas Mudd, the director and curator of the American Numismatic Association’s Money Museum: “You get a lot of hoards in Europe — coins buried for hundreds or thousands of years, but they’re less common in the U.S. Our history isn’t that long, and for most of the time we’ve had banks, so people have tended to put their money there. … Sixty, 70, 200 coins — yes. Fourteen-hundred? That’s exceptional.”
But that’s OK. I’d be happy to find a few random silver coins and maybe an Indian arrowhead or two. It’s all about the hunt to us diggers. And as National Geographic says, “People who sweep metal detectors over fields as a hobby, and backyard dog walkers casually kicking up a bit of dirt, can always hope for a lucky strike.”
Filed under: Coin Collecting and History and Human Interest and News & Politics and Technology and West Virginia
I don’t know much about monetary policy, but as a coin collector, I do know this much about “money” policy: America could save a bundle of money by killing off the penny:
The same goes for dollar bills, which is why I’m a fan of the Dollar Coin Alliance. But a government that has overspent by trillions of dollars can’t be expected to care about the mere $5.6 billion it could save over 30 years by eliminating currency that has no relative value any more.
Filed under: Coin Collecting and Government and News & Politics and Video
Journalists feign objectivity for the public, but get them in a free-wheeling chat and they’ll spout opinions about anything — even the merits of coins.
Hence this Q&A today with Paul Farhi of The Washington Post:
I happen to agree with Farhi about the penny, an annoying coin of no value in a country where inflation long ago made the penny worthless. I also happen to be an objective journalist in one format who still spouts opinions every day.
But Farhi’s condemnation of the penny — and of the dollar coin — came in the context of an online chat where he cautioned other journalists to choose their words wisely so they wouldn’t be suspended for revealing personal bias. How ironic.
I guess it’s safe to assume that Farhi won’t be covering any future debates about the merits of the penny.
Filed under: Coin Collecting and Media
Comments: 1 Comment
Gold and silver have been hot commodities for months. You can’t watch cable television for more than an hour without seeing at least one commercial inviting you to BUY GOLD NOW, and other companies are setting up shop in hotels around the country to buy people’s precious metals.
Beware both the sellers and the buyers.
The companies pushing gold and silver as sound investments know the metals market is in a bubble, just like real estate was a few years ago and dot-com stocks before that. Wait for the gold and silver bubble to burst, and then start buying, which is what those companies did years ago.
As for the firms that buy gold and silver in bulk, avoid them altogether. You will not get anywhere close to the true value for your coins, jewelry or bullion.
One newspaper in Texas has done its community a great service by attending the gold- and silver-buying bonanzas where out-of-town companies try to part residents from their valuables. The newspaper sends a reporter to the events with a collection of gold and silver whose fair-market value already has been determined. Then it compares that price with the offers from buyers.
The gap between the two numbers is huge, as is evident in this report:
The company representative went ballistic when the reporter confronted him about the discrepancy. “It is business. It is as simple as that,” he said. “When you go to buy a used car, is it worth what they are charging you. Your newspaper is not worth a dime, I can tell you that right now. You are as low as low gets.” Methinks he did protest too much.
I have a small stash of worn and common silver coins that I may sell once it’s worth enough to buy a digital camera, but if I do, I won’t be dealing with a shyster in a hotel. I’ll find a reputable, local coin or bullion dealer. Everyone should do the same.
Filed under: Business and Coin Collecting
I’m a big fan of American coins, especially the older designs that contain something more creative than images of presidents. But with the exception of Guatemalan coins because that’s where our children were born, I’ve never paid much attention to foreign coins.
I’ve been missing a good series. Since 1995, Israel has been striking coins about biblical stories. This year’s coins, available in gold and silver and in different sizes, illustrate the story of Israeli judge Samson killing a lion with his bare hands.
Past coins have featured the Big Three patriarchs — Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — and characters such as Joseph, Moses and his sister Miriam, Solomon and the prophet Isaiah. The Tower of Babel makes an appearance, too.
Meanwhile, on $1 coins here in the United States that nobody uses, this year we’re celebrating presidential powerhouses William Henry Harrison (dead one month after his inauguration because he didn’t have, as the cliche says, the sense God gave a lemon), John Tyler, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor.
It’s enough to make an all-American guy want to start collecting coins from Israel.
Filed under: Coin Collecting and History and People and Religion
The Royal Canadian Mint made five humongous gold coins in 2007. One is now the star of a high-security tour in the country before it is auctioned in 2011.
The “Million-Dollar Coin,” which is actually worth $3.4 million just for the gold content, weighs 220 pounds and is more than an inch thick and about 20 inches in diameter. Behold her beauty!
Filed under: Coin Collecting
About 75 years ago, the federal government minted a batch of $20 gold coins but decided not to release them publicly. Most were melted, but a few found their way out of the U.S. Mint. Those 1933 Saint Gaudens “double eagles” are among the most famous coins in history, and now they’re in the news again.
Back in 2003, Roy Langbord found not one but 10 of the coins in a long-forgotten family safe-deposit box. The only 1933 double eagle ever sold netted $7.6 million in 2002, the most for any single coin in history. Langbord and his family were suddenly rich.
Or so they thought. But when they gave the coins to the government to authenticate that they weren’t fakes, Uncle Sam kept them, claiming that Langbord’s grandfather, Israel Switt, had stolen them. The government offered no evidence to prove its claim — and apparently has none — so now the case is in court.
It’s entirely possible that Switt was a criminal and stole the coins. But in America, he’s innocent until proven guilty — and his family members are definitely innocent.”Maybe they were stolen in the 1930s,” a leading numismatist told The New York Times, “but they certainly weren’t stolen by the people who are holding them now.”
Amen to that. At a minimum, the government should do what it did in 2002 — let the coins go to auction and split the proceeds 50-50 with the family. But I hope the family gets all of they money. They deserve it after the government’s greedy gold coin grab.
Filed under: Coin Collecting and Government
Comments: 2 Comments
I love a good coin story, and this is the best one I’ve read in a while:
That news account reminded me of my favorite coin story of all time. It’s my favorite because it involved friends of ours.
Our friends regularly frequented the “Too Good To Be Trash” facility at our local dump, where people took old or broken items they didn’t want anymore but that other people might be willing to whip back into usable shape. Our friends scored some great finds over the years, including a grandfather clock that needed a minor repair but was otherwise in fantastic shape.
One day while our friend was scouring the non-trashy goods on the grounds with her daughter, they caught a glimpse of something shiny on the pavement. At first glance, they thought it was just toy money, but a closer inspection made them think it was real gold. And indeed it was.
I don’t recall the denomination or the exact year, but it was a U.S. gold coin from the 1800s. It wasn’t extremely valuable (maybe $150), but it was absolutely free — and a great piece of history. Even better, it’s now a family heirloom with a great story behind it.
Filed under: Coin Collecting and Friends and History and Human Interest
As president, Barack Obama has done nothing but spend money the U.S. government doesn’t have. But that’s OK. The island nation of Vanuatu has coined new money in his image.
We can use it to stimulate the economy, run Government Motors, fund the government option for health care and save us all from the global warming induced by cow farts. Or we can all move to Vanuatu once Obama has destroyed the economy here.
Parting thought: Vanuatu sounds an awful lot like Xanadu, don’t ya think? What was it that Olivia Newton-John sang about that fantasy world?
Filed under: Coin Collecting and Entertainment and Human Interest and People
Comments: 1 Comment
The coin collector in me loves the guy behind the Political Math videos. He doesn’t just create great visuals of how the Obama administration is wrecking the federal budget and failing to “save” the economy; he also collects the old “wheat” pennies from the piles.
The latest video casts light on how miserable the administration is at its own political math calculations. President Obama told the country that Congress had to spend nearly a trillion dollars, and now, to stimulate the economy and “save or create” millions of jobs. Congress spent the money, but far more jobs disappeared than predicted.
While the math in the video is arguably a little off, the Obama team’s math is far worse. It sounds like they went to the Ma & Pa Kettle School Of Cipherin’.
The video storyteller behind Political Math is going to need all of those pennies, including the ones with wheat ears, and then some if the next four years goes like Obama’s first few months.
Filed under: Coin Collecting and Entertainment and Government and News & Politics and People and Video
Comments: 2 Comments
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