- Oct 10, 1999
'Time capsule of Civil War-era coinage' will likely fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars for its finder
A man in Kentucky has harvested a fortune in gold from his cornfield, after stumbling across a cache of more than 700 gold coins dating back to the Civil War era.
The man, whose name and location have not been revealed, can be heard on a short video breathlessly exclaiming “this is the most insane thing ever,” while digging the coins out of the dirt.
The treasure, which has already been dubbed “The Great Kentucky Hoard,” has not been precisely valued, but just one of the coins, an 1863 $20 Gold Liberty coin, has in the past sold at auction for more than $100,000. The cache includes 18 of those, as well as more than 600 gold dollar coins, dating from 1854 to 1862.
Kentucky was a border state during the U.S. Civil War, and declared itself neutral when hostilities first broke out. It was the site of several fierce battles, and its uncertain future led to many wealthy inhabitants hiding their valuables from one side or the other. Legends persist of buried treasure left behind by Daniel Boone, Jesse James and others.
The Horde consists of Union currency, suggesting their owner may have had dealings with the north that she or he wanted to hide from Confederate raiders.
Rare coin expert Jeff Garrett was brought in to authenticate the claims. “The opportunity to handle the Great Kentucky Hoard is one of the highlights of my career,” he said. “The importance of this discovery cannot be overstated, as the stunning number of over 700 gold dollars represents a virtual time capsule of Civil War-era coinage.”
The find included the best-known 1863 Double Eagles, a gold coin with a face value of $20. Said Garrett: “Finding one mint-condition 1863 Double Eagle would be an important numismatic event. Finding nearly a roll of superb examples is hard to comprehend.”
The cache has been taken up by the company GovMint, which is selling off individual coins with a certification label that they came from the Greta Kentucky Hoard.