Sandy Ridge Coins

We’ve previously highlighted a few famous coin hoards and their impact on the coin industry, which can be found here and here. As is always the case, the circumstances surrounding the found coins are always interesting.  Some of the stories that we’ve highlighted in the past include true hoarders who had thousands of coins squirreled away, NY subway employees who had access to millions of coins, and local and Federal Reserve Banks who came across large quantities of coins that they didn’t know existed.  While all of the previously mentioned situations are unique, one recently found hoard has taken the coin industry by storm and has made headline news.

If you’re remotely connected to the coin industry, then you have probably heard of the recent lot of 1,427 $20 Liberty Head gold coins, which were found by an anonymous couple in Saddle Ridge, CA while taking a walk near their home.  The coins, ranging in date from 1847 – 1894, were buried in rusted out tin cans, some as deep as a foot underground, and are thought to have been undisturbed in the same location for more than 100 years.  While there has been a substantial amount of speculation as to where the coins came from and if they were stolen, the U.S. Treasury has confirmed that the coins were not stolen from the Mint, so unless someone from the public comes forward with solid evidence that the coins were stolen, the individuals who found the coins will remain the rightful owners.

While many large hoards have been found over the years, there are a couple of unique circumstances surrounding the Saddle Ridge hoard.  For one, it is by far the most valuable hoard that has been dug up.  The estimated value of the 1,427 coin hoard is $10mm.  While the face value of the coins is $28,540 and the current gold value is approximately $1.86mm, the numismatic or collectible value of the coins far exceeds the gold value.  Many of the coins are low mintage or key date coins, and the majority of the coins are in uncirculated condition.  As to what the coins will eventually sell for, it’s anyone’s guess, but has been selected as the venue for selling the coins, which is sure to garner much attention.

To put the value of the Saddle Ridge coin hoard into perspective, prior to this most recent find, the most valuable coins unearthed in the U.S. were valued at less than $5,000.  Surely, other valuable coin hoards have been found over the years, which have gone unreported, but it’s hard to fathom that any of the other finds were close in value to the Sandy Ridge hoard.

While some individuals may be of the opinion that large found hoards hurt the coin industry, as this affects the number of coins believed to exist in various grades, we’re of the opinion that large coin hoards that receive national attention can only benefit the coin industry in the long run.  While we don’t have any hard numbers indicating how the coin hoard affected the attendance at the recent ANA money show in Atlanta, where the coins were on public display, it would be naive to assume that there wasn’t an impact.  Furthermore, the coin hoard has the potential to revitalize an interest in coin collecting that has been dormant for years, or give individuals a nudge who have been waiting on the sidelines.  Case in point is a gentleman that we heard from over the weekend, who last collected coins in 1974.  He said that the Sandy Ridge hoard motivated him to acquire up to five certified $20 Liberty Head gold coins.

In summary, the recently found Saddle Ridge hoard has helped to place another gem in the crown of the “king of hobbies.”  While owners of some of the same coins may have taken a short term hit to their investment due to the larger than expected survival rate of some of the coins found in this historic coin hoard, it’s difficult to argue that headline news, which most assuredly has attracted newcomers to the hobby, is not a positive development for the field of numismatics.  It probably hasn’t hurt the metal detecting industry either!

Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers.  Visit his website at for additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Be sure to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive a feed to our blog to stay on top of all of the latest trends affecting the numismatic and bullion coin markets.