Buried Treasure? An Overview of Coin Hoards

Buried treasure is something that still exists today. Whether it is ancient Roman coins in Europe, Classic American coins in the U.S., or some other instance of accumulated wealth lost to time, coin hoards that have been found throughout the years can represent centuries of forgotten history.

Buried treasure is something that still exists today. Whether it is ancient Roman coins in Europe, Classic American coins in the U.S., or some other instance of accumulated wealth lost to time, coin hoards that have been found throughout the years can represent centuries of forgotten history.

Once in a while, either the mainstream media or a numismatic publication has headlines about a newly-discovered coin hoard. Coin hoards can be very exciting if you’re able to obtain a piece from one. Sometimes coins that can be traced to a hoard are even more valuable than comparable specimens. At other times, a hoard may lower the value of other coins on the market. Let’s take a closer look at coin hoards so that you can move forward as a more knowledgeable collector!

Though they may be surprising when found, coin hoards have been around for centuries. Throughout the years, coin hoards have been re-discovered in many countries. Many of these hoards were buried during varying social climates and different cultures when it might have been common to hide money. 

Many of the ancient hoards were buried during times of war or uncertainty. While people typically planned to retrieve their deposit, some people weren’t able to do so, which left a hoard for someone to find. In fact, there are still hoards found in the Mediterranean area today from the times of the Greeks and Romans!

Some hoards from the modern era were formed simply by saving. Of those who lived through the Great Depression, some of them developed a lifelong distrust of banks. This led to their life savings being kept at home.

Other hoards were created through tragedies or other mishaps. Shipwreck coins are often considered to be in a category by themselves, but they also fit the definition of a hoard. 

Hoards vary in their contents almost as much as their locations. Some hoards contain a variety of different coins while others contain a large quantity of just one type of coin.

Of all the hoards that have been found, the General Services Administration (GSA) hoard is one of the most well-known among collectors. These GSA Morgan dollars were left undisturbed through simple oversight. Many were still in their original Mint bags and had never been in circulation. When they were rediscovered by government officials, the coins were encased and sold to collectors.

The GSA hoard contained a variety of Morgan dollars, but it also erased the relative scarcity of some of these coins. When an inventory of it was taken prior to the beginning of sales, it was found that nearly 85% of the Carson City Morgan dollars struck in 1884 were there. However, Morgan dollars from the GSA hoard carry a fair premium and are constantly in demand today.

One of the most recent finds that made headlines was the now famous Saddle Ridge Hoard. In 2013, a married couple was out walking on their California property when they noticed something sticking out of the ground. As their curiosity grew, the couple dug up what appeared to be an old, closed can. They quickly took it back to their home to have a look inside. As you probably know, it was filled with U.S. gold coins!

There were several other cans later found by the couple within a few feet of the first one. Once they counted out their finds, there were over 1,400 US gold coins from the mid to late 1800s. The hoard has been valued at approximately $10,000,000 due to the fact that it included some key date coins in very high grades. In fact, several of the coins from the hoard tied other examples for the title of finest known after they were certified by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

Although it was sold several decades ago, the Redfield Silver Dollar Hoard was another well-known discovery. This hoard hit the market in 1974, shortly after the death of LaVere Redfield.

LaVere was a bit of an odd fellow according to those who knew him. He tended to act as though he had little money, but after his death, there were hundreds of thousands of Morgan Silver Dollars found hidden in his home. The entire hoard was sold to a single company for over $7,000,000. The company then sold them slowly over the years. At this point, there aren’t many silver dollars left in the original Redfield hoard cases, but there are some.

The Silk Road Coin Hoard was a large quantity of buried Tabaristan Hemidrachms that was uncovered recently. While the details behind who buried these coins are uncertain, ModernCoinMart (MCM) was able to secure this hoard of ancient silver coins, and have them certified by the ancient coin division of the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). Incredibly, these coins were graded as Mint State, meaning that these coins which are over 1,200 years old are uncirculated and still have some luster!

Another exciting group of coins carried by MCM is the Civil War Token Hoard. NGC has certified over 8,000 patriotic-themed tokens. Of these, only 237 have been certified as Full Red, with original full color and luster as when they were struck. Most tokens seen in the marketplace are well worn and original coins in Choice Condition are nearly unheard of!

This small hoard was discovered in New Hampshire and had been carefully wrapped in tissue paper since the coins were minted during the tumultuous years of the Civil War. This small hoard represents more than 1/3 of all Full Red NGC certified Civil War Tokens that have ever entered the marketplace!

Coin hoards can be found by anyone at any time. Some of the best stories we know of are about the exciting discovery coin hoards. Real-life examples of buried treasure, coin hoards offer years of history to any collection.

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