The $10 million dollars of gold coins that were unearthed by a Californian couple whilst out walking their dog last year is continuing to pique the interests of historians and coin collectors.
The hoard which contains 1,427 US gold coins was found buried in eight separate bags, but how they came to be there is a mystery – one which has ha researchers, speculators and opportunists offering their theories – and in some cases trying to stake a claim on the loot.
Buried treasure is uncommon in the United States and the find has captured the imagination of amateur sleuths and romantic collectors, as well as professional historians. To date though, nobody has proposed a satisfactory conclusion – and most ideas have been dismissed. Here are a selection of the best.
San Francisco Mint Heist
One of the most promising theories is the gold coins are tied to a cache of gold coins that were stolen from the San Francisco Mint in 1901 and never recovered. However, the US Mint cannot find any link and the mixture of coins in the cache date between 1847 and 1894. Coins stolen from a mint would mostly feature the same date. Furthermore, the coins carry different mint marks confirming they were not all made by the same mint.
Jesse James’ slave money
Another convincing theory involves the famous outlaw Jesse James. In his book, Rebel Gold, historical writer Warren Getler presents evidence that James was involved with a Confederate secret society called the Knights of the Golden Circle. The group of wealthy aristocrats had been influential in the American Civil War and are thought to have been plotting to annex Mexico and turn it into a slave state. The gang is believed to have buried treasure all over the United States, although there is little evidence to confirm the California cache was war funds for a secret society.
Lost gold rush
The land in Gold Country where the coins were discovered was owned by a mining magnate during the California gold rush of 1949. The most plausible explanation is that the owner of the property was a coin collector, and given the stash includes coins of various dates, conditions and rarities, it is more in line with somebody’s private collection. It was also not unusual in those days for people to bury their fortunes for safe keeping in a secluded place, but it would appear the owner of this particular fortune died before recovering his coins.
Regardless of where the gold coins origins the story is a good example of the fascination gold coins have over people and the fortune they can make investors. In 1894, this stash of gold would have been valued around $300,000, but today is worth $10 million.
With gold coins a safe-haven investment in times of economic insecurity, investors make a wise choice adding precious metals to your portfolio – and with the debt ceiling looking more and more likely than ever to collapse, investors may well rely on their gold investment to see them through times of financial hardship.