The California couple who recently discovered more than 1,400 pre-1933 U.S. gold coins submitted those coins to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and after grading the coins it turns out that the coins are collectively worth over $10 million. The $20 Double Eagle coins were perfectly preserved inside some rusty cans and it has been reported that they were minted between 1847 and 1894, making them Liberty Head pieces.
The coins had a collective face value of about $29,000, but PCGS certifiers have said that the batch of coins includes some pieces that could fetch up to $1 million each. The couple who found the coins has chosen to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, and now rumors have started about the origins of the rarities.
Some believe that a legitimate owner may be out there somewhere, but many Internet commentators and gold coin enthusiasts believe that the coins were stashed away by someone looking to avoid FDR’s 1933 edict of gold confiscation. To me, this theory doesn’t hold water and here’s why:
If the coins are truly as rare as PCGS experts believe then their rarity was likely common knowledge in 1933, and we all know that collector coins were immune to the confiscation order. Additionally, PCGS maintains that the coins are in uncirculated mint state condition, which means that they were never used as currency. The coins that the U.S. government seized, melted down and sold to help get us out of the Great Depression were coins that had already been used as currency.
Do I think that a legitimate owner exists? At one time, yes, but that person probably left this life long ago. Most likely someone owned the coins legally, was distrustful of banks and worried about a home invasion. The coins were never needed by the original owner but sadly they never made their way into the hands of heirs.
The lesson for us today is this: if you buy gold make sure one person knows where it is stored, be it in a coffee can in the backyard or in a safe deposit box at the local bank. Even if the bank goes belly-up they have to send you a certified letter and give you time to empty out the box. It’s nice to see that the coins will be used to pay off the couple’s home and to make charitable donations but for the sake of your loved ones ensure there is a way for someone to receive what you’ve left for them.