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Saddle Ridge: Unsolved Mystery of U.S. Biggest Hidden Buried Treasure



The mysterious story of the Gold Rush along with the American Frontier during the 19th century captured the imagination of people around the globe and expressing the same in different forms of media: art, literature and numerous movies.


The tales of pioneers, ranchers, outlaws in association with the host of other colorful characters populating the Wild West fascinated millions of people over a century, while many of the realities of life lived on the edges of civilizations that have beautifully taken on the aura of the myth. Even to the present day, the tales of buried treasure are an accepted part of the Western lore. However, very few people are aware that these legends spring up from the actual stories of men and women performing their best to get rid in a world where the banks did not exist on every corner and the few that did often fail.


Saddle Ridge Treasure:

Famed with the name of The Saddle Ridge Treasure, the 1,411 liberty head gold coins discovered along the Saddle Ridge hoard are worth 10 million USD today. Yet, no one knows who has buried them. These coins were minted between 1855 and 1894. They were discovered a few years ago in eight canisters dotting a couple's property of Northern California. One beautiful morning a couple in California were walking their dog along with their property in February 2013. However, one of the owners, Mary noticed something strange during their course of the walk and came across an old tin can poking out of the ground.


With great interest, Mary and her husband, John carefully worked out the tin from the field with the help of a stick. They uncovered something that completely changed their lives forever. They decided to carry it to their unusually large home. However, they were not at all prepared for what they were going to find when they pierced the lid open: mixed with dirt and stones that accumulated over several years, they noticed the edges of numerous gold coins that were minted several hundreds of years ago and yet we're still in good condition. They returned to the site and immediately located the remains of another can that was buried a bit deeper and a foot to the left of the first one. They found rust to damages half of the side of the can, exposing another cache of gold coins. They made repeated trips to the site and with the help of a metal detector collected eight such cans filled with 1,411 rare U.S. gold coins. Since then Kaigin, a California-based agency that authenticates U.S. currency, along with the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) confirmed the coins. The very next week a sampling of the coins was sent for display at the American Numismatic Association National (ANA) Money Show in Atlanta. People were curious to know how did the biggest treasure came to the eyes of the people and government authorities.

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People began to look over the plastic-encased coins, each with a special gold coloured "Saddle Ridge Hoard" PCGS certification foil, people started wondering the source of such a hoard. ANA Director Douglas Mudd, who served a decade of his career as a collection manager at the Smithsonian Institution National Numismatic Collection stated it to be extremely unusual for finding so many U.S. coins at a place, especially those that are made up of gold calling it to be a special as well as rare hoard. Mudd further stated that while the stockpiles of paper and even coins of the U.S. currency have been found earlier, the next great discovery would be the face value worth $4,500, which is the total denomination.


In the view of PCGS, the majority of the coins were $20 denomination Liberty Double Eagles struck at the San Francisco Mint. Having an approximate amount of 1,400 gold coins, giving a total face value of about $28,000. Though stated to be in good condition by the couple, it was later found that unmarked tins were badly decaying laying at a depth of 1foot, it can be said that someone did not want them to be found. Even Mudd wonders about the circumstances about the burying of such a high sum of money in a place, which was a lot back then. Numerous ways are responsible for creating such a hoard.


Possible reasons:

Mudd stated that often these came from people who failed in trusting the banks, stashing their money in a hidden spot: mattress, underground vault, or tin they buried in the backyard, which was known to them.


However, they fail to take out their money due to early death and stumbled by others several years later. The other option is more like the classic western movies where bandits made off with than money, but with the authorities in hot pursuit and hence they buried their loot and came back later for retrieving it. There was a report of theft six years later after the coining of the latest mint dates. However, some scholars suggest that if the coins were taken from the mint cashier, they might have pulled them from certain areas where similar denominations and minting were all gathered together. The news was big enough to make an industry trade sheet, but owing to the traveling of the news back then, it failed to become legendary. However, after communicating with the U.S. Mint to see if they have any records of such a theft, Adam Stump deputy director, Office of Corporate Communications, he quickly deflated the balloon. He reported that there was no such information about the theft of those coins from the United States Mint facility. The Saddle Ridge Treasure remains an unsolved mystery to date.


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