Earlier this year, a Kentuckian found a cache of gold coins so valuable that it has been dubbed the “Great Kentucky Hoard.” The discovery has been compared to winning the lottery. More than 700 Civil War-era coins were found, dating between 1840 and 1863. Among them are several rare $20 Gold Liberty Double Eagles that experts value in the six-figure range. There were also several $10 Gold Liberty and $1 Gold Indian princess dollars, according to GovMint.com

A Find Equivalent to Winning the Lottery

The man who found the coins, who prefers to remain anonymous, posted a video about his incredible cornfield find, calling it “the most insane thing ever.” He enthused, “Those are all $1 gold coins, $20 gold coins, $10 gold coins. And look. I’m still digging them out.”

The coins were authenticated by the Numismatic Guaranty Company, which cleaned them, removed contaminants, and prepared them for preservation. The result displayed an “eye-popping luster.” The majority of the coins received grades ranging from Extremely Fine to Mint State condition. It’s believed that they didn’t spend much time in circulation before burial. Additionally, some might not have seen any use in commerce at all!

Why Buried? Experts Have A Few Theories

It is possible that the original owner stockpiled them during the Civil War as an insurance policy. They may have died before being able to collect the coins after the war. Alternatively, they may have forgotten where they put the hoard.

“Back in those days, you couldn’t always go to a bank or put them in a safe or store them in a vault,” Jeff Garrett, owner of Mid-American Rare Coin Gallery in Lexington, Kentucky, told Fox News Digital. “Nothing was really available to somebody looking to hide their wealth, so the best way to do it was to bury it in the ground.”

Archaeologist Ryan McNutt from Georgia Southern University told Live Science that the location of the cache and the time period indicates that the coins may have been buried prior to the summer 1863 campaign by Confederate John Hunt Morgan, which became known as Morgan’s Raid. The military terrorized civilians in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio during this period.

A Hidden Fortune

It is worth noting that the coins were federal, not Confederacy, currency. The owner may have earned them by working for the federal government. It would have been smart to hide them from Confederate soldiers.

McNutt believes the coins had a value of approximately $1,000 in 1864, which would have equaled several years’ pay. “That makes me speculate that whoever buried it probably died and wasn’t able to go back for it,” he explained.

Garrett noted, “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, including coins from the elusive Dahlonega Mint. Finding one mint condition 1863 Double Eagle would be an important numismatic event. Finding nearly a roll of superb examples is hard to comprehend.”

Beating The Odds

According to Andrew Salzberg, executive vice president of the Certified Collectibles Group, the odds of finding this type of treasure can be compared to winning the lottery: “It’s a truly historic and rare find. I can’t disagree that, as far as coins being found in the ground, this is one of the most significant finds of the 21st century.”

Salzberg told Spectrum News 1 that he believed the coins were worth over $2 million. Previously, 1863 Liberty Double Eagle sold for a record-breaking $381,875 at auction. You can find some Double Eagles at GovMint.com for over $100,000 each.

Finding a cache of coins is not as uncommon as you would think; although it is not always as bountiful as the Great Kentucky Hoard. In 2022, a man and his cousin found an estimated 1 million pennies worth around $10,000 in a crawl space of a house they were cleaning. The value did not consider any rare coins that might have been part of the discovery.

By Noelle Talmon, contributor for Ripleys.com


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