Buried Gold Likely Not From Heist, Says US Mint Rep

And he's not the only one to pooh-pooh the theory
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2014 7:12 AM CST
Updated Mar 5, 2014 8:00 AM CST
Buried Gold Likely Not From Heist, Says US Mint Rep
This image provided by the Saddle Ridge Hoard discoverers via Kagin's, Inc., shows one of the six decaying metal canisters filled with 1800s-era US gold coins unearthed in California.   (AP Photo/Saddle Ridge Hoard discoverers via Kagin's, Inc.)

Perhaps it was too intriguing to be true: A rep for the US Mint and an expert on the San Francisco Mint throw water on the latest theory surrounding the $10 million in gold coins uncovered in California—that they were the long-hidden spoils of a 1901 gold heist from the SF Mint. "We do not have any information linking the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins to any thefts at any United States Mint facility," Mint rep Adam Stump tells CNN, and that determination follows a good deal of research, he adds to the San Francisco Chronicle. "We've got a crack team of lawyers, and trust me, if this was US government property we’d be going after it." Richard Kelly, who wrote a book on the SF Mint, sees a further issue with the dates of the uncovered coins—they're stamped 1847 to 1894, and he thinks ones taken from the mint would be dated nearer to 1901. "We assume from the times and all the records that they were new coins [taken]. Back then, once coins were printed they flew out of the mint."

And a coin dealer tells the Los Angeles Times that each of the six bags of Double Eagles (that's a $20 coin) stolen would have held coins bearing the same date and mint mark. The buried coins feature "12 times as many permutations as we should have," he says. The Chronicle also takes a look at what one coin collector considers to be the smoking gun: an 1866 Double Eagle that had no "In God We Trust" motto on it; 1866 was the year that motto began gracing the coins, and Jack Trout told the paper that he believed the presence of the rare and valuable coin amid the buried haul signaled that it had to have come directly from the SF Mint. But the Chronicle turns to the Encyclopedia of US Gold Coins, which presents the coin as anything but one-of-a-kind: Per the encyclopedia, 120,000 "No Motto" Double Eagles were produced in San Francisco in 1866 before the changeover occurred. (Click for more on the heist theory.)

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