​Gold Coins Found Not Stolen Gold In California​​

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March 5, 2021

Gold coins found by a Northern California couple last year are worth $10 million and are not likely stolen in a 1901 U.S. Mint theft in San Francisco. Gold coins in six bags were missing in 1901, which led to the conviction of Chief Clerk Walter Dimmick.

The coins were never recovered, but a home owned by a Mint superintendent was used to cover part of the loss.

Each bag of coins in Dimmick’s cache would have contained coins with the same date and mint mark, said David McCarthy, senior numismatist for Kagin’s Inc., which evaluated the Saddle Ridge Hoard.

The cache discovered last year contains a mix of coins with 72 distinct date and mint mark combinations, he said. The 1,427 coins, most of them $20 pieces, are dated between 1847 and 1894.

Dimmick Defalcation:

  • Walter Dimmick allegedly stole the $30,000 in gold coins in California in 1901.
  • The gold theft was dubbed Dimmick Defalcation and Dimmick served jail time in San Quentin prison.
  • Officials say there’s no link to the theft and the coins found in 2013.

“We do not have any information linking the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins to any thefts at any United States Mint facility,” U.S. Mint spokesman Adam Stump said of the newly found gold in California, adding that lawyers have looked into the matter.

Northern California Couple Identified

The Northern California couple, identified only as John and Mary by Kagin’s, had walked the path on their gold country property for years before they spotted the edge of a rusty can peeking out of the moss in February 2013. When the lid cracked off, they found dirt-encrusted coins, some in better condition than those on display in museums.

“I looked around over my shoulder to see if someone was looking at me — I had the idea of someone on horseback in my head. It’s impossible to describe really, the strange reality of that moment,” John said in an interview transcript.

The Saddle Ridge Hoard, named for the space on their property, may be the most valuable cache ever found in North America, with an estimated value of more than $10 million. If you melted the coins, the gold alone would be worth $2 million, said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Services in Newport Beach, who recently authenticated them.

Finest Gold Coins Found From 1866

Thirteen of the coins are the finest of their kind. One “miraculous coin,” an 1866 $20 piece made in San Francisco and missing “In God We Trust,” could bring $1 million on its own, Hall said. When the motto was added to the coin in 1866, some were still minted without the phrase, he said.

Had the couple attempted to clean the delicate surface of the piece, they could have reduced the value to $7,000 or $8,000 in under a minute, McCarthy said.
Most of the hoard will be sold on Amazon.com in late May or early June to allow a broader swath of the public to access them, McCarthy said. The couple, who will donate some of the profit to charity, said the find will allow them to keep their property.