Who hasn’t imagined finding treasure? Probably most of us have allowed that dream to drift into our minds. We might think that we might have to dig it up or use a metal detector to find it. But in this mysterious story, the couple who discovered treasure did nothing else but pick up a rusty can half-buries in the ground.
Their true identities remain a secret so as to protect their land on which the treasure was found. So, they have been given the names of John and Mary. In February 2013 they were out walking on their property on the western slopes of the Nevada Mountains in Northern California when they noticed, first a rusty can caught on the branches of a tree. Close by they saw another similar rusty can sticking out of the ground. John was all for walking on but Mary was curious and pulled the one in the ground out. It was sealed shut and was very heavy. They took it back to their house before opening it.
When they did, they got the shock of their lives. It was full of gold coins. Of course, they went back to retrieve the other can which was also packed full of gold coins. Eventually they recovered eight such cans. The coins were in denominations of $5, $10 and $20 dollars and were dated between 1847 and 1894. They were in mint condition and had all been minted by the San Francisco Mint. The face value of the hoard when added up was $28,000. However, that was then. In today’s money this had risen to $10,000,000.
So, how did this treasure find its way to where it was discovered nearly one hundred and twenty years later? Since the coins were in perfect condition, then it could be assumed they had not gone into circulation. So, had the San Francisco Mint had any of these stolen in the past? The answer was yes. In 1901, Walter Dimmick, a clerk at the mint was convicted of stealing gold coins to the value of $30,000. At the time it was believed he had buried the coins somewhere in Northern California.
There is another piece of evidence to say this was the takings of a crime. One of the coins was a one-off and had never left the mint. It was so rare that it had been valued at over $1,000,000. With all this evidence, did the US government claim the coins back? No, they didn’t. The reason given was there is no definite evidence that the haul came from any government mint. This was strange and it led to a number of other theories being put forward.
Unlikely theories include the ill-gotten gains of the famous outlaw Jesse James and another outlaw known by the nickname of “Black Bart.” Both of these stories do not stand up to scrutiny. So, if we take the US authorities at their word that the coins are not government property, then one other possible theory remains.
It is thought that these are the earnings of someone in the mining business of the 19th Century who did not trust banks. Many people at the time felt this way. So, this person buries all his earnings but for some reason, never went back to claim them. Whatever the reason, John and Mary are not complaining. They kept the treasure.