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article imageLady Liberty coin to go on auction at San Francisco Old Mint Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Apr 28, 2014 in Business
San Francisco - The Old Mint in San Francisco is getting ready to display and auction a gold coin, from a hoard of gold coins dating back to the 1800s. This upcoming exhibit and auction is part of the Saddle Ridge hoard
that was recently discovered back in February by a California couple while walking their dog. News reports by all the major networks gave account of this rare and lucky find. As coin-dealer and expert Don Kagin of Kagin’s, Inc. and Holabird-Kagin Americana, explained, "using a stick, they were able to dislodge a can they saw partially uncovered in the dirt on their property."
The couple who Kagin's Inc. describes simply as "John and Mary" had walked on the trail on their property up in California's Gold Country region many times before. The couple refers to that portion of the property as "Saddle Ridge." And, Mary noted that when they first bought the property and walked around they noticed things like "an old tree growing into the hill which had an empty rusty can." As Mary remembered, "we thought it might be a place for someone to put flowers in for a gravesite (from long ago) which would have been typical at the time." Yet, when Mary saw the partially uncovered can she began to dig.
They decided to carry it back to their house. The can was unusually heavy, and they thought perhaps it was old paint inside," Kagin told ABC news, San Francisco affiliate reporter Wayne Freedman. "Clearly these were buried over a long period of time," Kagin said. But nothing could have prepared the couple for what they would find when they pried the lid open. Mixed in with dirt and stones, they could see the edges of numerous U.S. $20 gold pieces. It was a literal pot or in this situation an old can of gold.
The couple returned to the site and immediately located the remains of another can, buried a bit deeper and about a foot to the left of the first can. Rust had consumed about half of the can’s sides, exposing another cache of gold coins. Repeated trips to the site (and the help of a metal detector) eventually uncovered a total of eight cans filled with over 1,400 rare U.S. gold coins.
This story, noted communications coordinator Lisa Bower, "has been reported by over 1,000,000 web sites and news agencies worldwide." The treasure, said Bower speaking on behalf of the Old Mint and the San Francisco Historical Society and Museum, contained in eight buried cans, consists of four $5 gold pieces, fifty $10 gold pieces, and 1,373 $20 double eagles." The current value of the coins all together is estimated at over $10 million.
“What’s really significant about this find,” noted Kagin Ph.D., and who is president of Kagin’s Inc. of Tiburon, California, “is that unlike other hoards and treasures, this one includes a great variety of dates." "Many of which are in pristine condition, he said. "Add to that a wonderful human interest story, about this couple that literally found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
The Saddle Ridge hoard or treasure is named after the couple's property on which the coins were discovered. Based on the dates of the coins included in the find, their condition and the condition of the decaying metal cans protecting them, it is believed that the coins were buried over a significant period of time in the late 19th century.
After unearthing the treasure, the couple contacted Kagin’s senior numismatist, David McCarthy, who evaluated the coins and informed them of the significance of their discovery.
“We all dream about discovering buried treasure, said McCarthy, seeing the real thing in person." "The piles of gold coins encrusted in dirt and rust, the experience was just indescribable,” he said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine coins coming out of the ground in the kind of condition that I saw in front of me," said McCarthy. "Many pieces were finer than anything known in major collections or museums.”
Some of the cans found on the property as the couple walked the trail along the Saddle Ridge where t...
Some of the cans found on the property as the couple walked the trail along the Saddle Ridge where they live.
courtesy of Kagin, Inc.
The coin arrival is perhaps an unexpected blessing for the Old Mint. As reported by The San Francisco Chronicle back in March, the City is seeking to have the California Historical Society take over. Yet as the Old Mint's executive director Jeff Sosnaud told this reporter, "it is actually up to the Board of Supervisors." "The Mayor's Office can petition to find another organization, but the Mayor's Office can't change the relationship and contract without the Board of Supervisors' approval."
“The Saddle Ridge Hoard’s owners immediately loved the idea of using one of these coins to help in the campaign to restore the Old Mint,” says David McCarthy, Senior Numismatist at Kagin’s. “None of us could think of a better way to kick off sales of the Saddle Ridge coins.”
“The auction of the first Saddle Ridge Hoard coin represents a wonderful opportunity both to raise funds for the continued renovation of the Old Mint building, and to increase public awareness of this iconic landmark and the urgent need for funding its full restoration,” explained SFMHS president, Jim Lazarus. He also thanked the finders of the hoard “for their appreciation of the Old Mint’s connection to the Saddle Ridge Hoard and California history, and their public spirited generosity in donating the auction proceeds.”
The exhibit will open on Tuesday May 27. General admission is $10. Presentations will begin at 7:30 pm followed by an auction at 8:30 pm of an 1874-S $20 gold piece, one of the first coins struck at the Old Mint. There will only be one coin from the Saddle Ridge Hoard auctioned at the Mint on May 27, "that's it," said Bower. The auction of that one coin is separate from the auction that Kagin, Inc will conduct on line. Yet as Bower noted, for the Old Mint, "there will be some 2006 gold and silver commemorative Old Mint coins that will be auctioned." All proceeds will go towards the renovation of the Old Mint. The Old Mint is grateful for the generous sponsorship of the event, that will be provided by The Buena Vista Winery. Interestingly or perhaps, it could be said, "coin"-cidentally, Buena Vista's founder, Agostin Haraszthny, worked as a 'coiner' at the original U.S. Branch Mint in San Francisco and eventually became the first U.S. assayer in 1854.
To learn more about Kagins, Inc. and the coin dealer's separate auction of the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins, visit the Saddle Ridge Treasure page on the Kagins, Inc. web site.
One of the old cans as it looked in Feb. of 2014  when Mary and John of Northern California discover...
One of the old cans as it looked in Feb. of 2014, when Mary and John of Northern California discovered the buried hoard on a trail spot on their property they call Saddle Ridge.
courtesy of Kagin, Inc.
For more info about the May 27 auction and exhibit call (415) 537-1105, Ext. 100, or visit the Old Mint and San Francisco Historical Society web site.
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