Couple walking their dog spot rusty can—what was inside ends up being worth $10million

September 5, 2017 5:14 pm Last Updated: December 10, 2017 8:48 am

After reading this story you might start walking your dog more often. A California couple was doing just that when they came across an unexpected treasure that proved to be of great historical significance and so valuable it’s almost hard to believe. But believe it, this treasure is as true as they come.

They were out for a walk along a trail they knew well.

(Photo by amandascientist/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY SA 4.0)

In February of 2013, a couple from Gold Country, northern California, was taking a stroll with their dog on their property. It was just another beautiful day and they had taken this walk many times before. This time, however, they took note of an aluminum coffee can that was partially buried but protruding from the ground near a tree.

They stooped over for a closer inspection of the can.

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“I saw an old can sticking out of the ground on a trail that we had walked almost every day for many, many years,” explained the man, identified as “John” to preserve his anonymity, in an interview with Kagin’s.

“I was looking down in the right spot and saw the side of the can. I bent over to scrape some moss off and noticed that it had both ends on it,” added his wife “Mary”.

When they saw what was in the can, they couldn’t believe it.

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The can was unusually heavy as they tried to carry it home. On they way, the lid cracked open and John saw inside a glint of gold.

They were stunned.

“I found a can of gold coins and I thought there was a zero percent chance of Mary believing me!” John told Kagin’s. “When I told her, the look of bewilderment — her mouth was so wide open flies could have flown in and out several times.”

They went back to the tree and dug for more and found four additional cans that also contained gold coins from the mid to late 1800s. With the help of a metal detector they found eight cans in total.

“I would never have thought we would have found something like this,” said Mary. “However, in a weird way I feel like I have been preparing my whole life for it.”

It was time to bring in the experts.

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The couple knew they had found something that most likely had some value, but they would soon find out through an appraisal just how valuable their found treasure was. They took the hoard to rare coin experts Kagin’s Inc. of Tiburon, California.

“Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition,” Dr. Don Kagin, president of Kagin’s, told

The face value of the treasure amounted to $27,000, but they would have to be inspected further and researched to estimate their true value.

Just how rare were the coins?

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“Since 1981, people have been coming to us with one or two coins they find worth a few thousand dollars, but this is the first time we get someone with a whole cache of buried coins … It is a million to one chance, even harder than winning the lottery,” said Kagin.


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One in a million? Make that $10 million! That was what the Lady Liberty coins were valued at when they were officially appraised by experts.

There were some coins, the self-employed couple learned, that were so rare they were valued at $1 million each!

No one really knows how the coins came to be buried under the tree but it’s most likely that the owner of their property from around 150 years ago stashed them there. Perhaps they thought this was the best way to preserve their investment for later in life. It was evident that the coins were not all buried at once, but rather over a long period of time.

So, the next time you’re out taking your dog for a walk…