Northern Californian couple finds a huge stash of gold coins on their property

Wow, and it’s valued at $10 million.

Story here.

They found them buried in rusty cans. The coins date from various times in the 19th century, and many have never been in circulation and are flawless.

Unfortunately, the linked story has no photographs. I’m off to Google around some more. I’d like to see them!

I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen to me for years.

I hope she can locate the rightful owner

Apparently they’ve added photos to the story at your link now. Those things are freaking awesome looking.

Oh, man, I needed that.

I wish I had a monkey’s paw…

They have no plans on living large and are planning on using the funds received for charity in their area. What an incredible find!
I’d be out there with metal detectors excavating some more.


Wow, are they beautiful. The cans look like some basic kitchen ingredient cannisters.

What are the tax implications for a find like this?

You have to wonder how often this happens and people don’t let the authorities know about it.

For that many gold coins…not very often, if ever. There just isn’t any way of getting cash out of the discovery without anybody finding out. As for the tax situation, I believe Cesarini v United States settled that back in 1969. It’s treated as gross income for the year it came into their undisputed possession.

I could see something like this happening down the road at my husband’s late uncle’s place. He was quite well off and for some stupid reason, he preferred to bury his money in the yard in coffee cans. I don’t know if he kept track of where he buried them or if his widow knows. But some day, someone might get a small bonanza.

You wouldn’t cash out all at once. That’s enough to last most people the remainder of their lives. Just go around the country and quietly cash them in over the next 20-30 years.

I’d think that this would be considered a “treasure trove” as discussed in IRS Publication 525 [PDF]:

“Found property. If you find and keep property that does not belong to you that has been lost or abandoned (treasure-trove), it is taxable to you at its fair market value in the first year it is your undisputed possession.”

Since they are able to sell it, it must be in their undisputed possession. That didn’t take long, I thought it usually took a long time to establish possession.

It’s thought that the cans were buried at various times, so my guess is that it was a miser’s hoard. He’d get new coins at the bank and squirrel them away like Ugolin.

Quietly cash in a pristine 1866 Double Eagle?

Good luck with that.

I could be wrong, because I have never dealt with mint coins (if these are in that good condition) but if they are not collectible and only valuable for the gold content, I don’t think this would be a problem. There are plenty of coin dealers around the country who deal in these. The problem is getting the money in some form (such as cash) that won’t be tracked. Maybe one or two at a time, and maybe paying a small discount for cash.

There are other factors to consider, but as I wrote I found myself discussing illegal activities, which I decided wasn’t worth the risk. But I think it can be done with a good chance of success.

But these coins are mint. Scrap gold is one thing. You’ll get melt for it and there are hundreds of dealers in scrap gold out there who will give you cash money, no paperwork and no questions. But for collector coins (and any coin that is still recognizable as such is a collector coin) you need to deal with people who require some paperwork, or you have to move around way too much. Easier to just take the hit on your taxes and have clean money to invest and spend. The hassles just aren’t worth what you’d “save.”

Just as an aside, in the UK, the Crown ie the government not the actual Queen, has first dibs on things that are deemed treasure trove (this find wouldn’t qualify, as the coins aren’t old enough). The finder gets paid the full value of the find as a reward if the Crown wants to keep it, and that is not taxable. If the find isn’t of great notability - no museum wants it, I guess - it gets given to the finder to do what they like with. Any subsequent sale by the finder may be subject to capital gains tax.

Is there any similar holdover in the US from the old “King owns everything” days, or has it moved on?