This “Old Gold” May Bring A New Gold Rush

If you haven’t heard about the California couple who discovered 1,400 gold coins while walking their dog on their property, and which may be the largest single hoard of gold coins found in the U.S., here’s the story.

The origin of the coins is a mystery.  But one theory is that they were stolen from a U.S. mint.

While most folks are talking about how the coins’ estimated $10 million value will make the couple’s financial future very comfortable, my interest is the numismatic one.  Coins (like stamps) are part of a country’s history and sometimes art as well.

Whenever I traveled abroad, I always brought back some coins and paper bills as souvenirs.  Consequently, I have some “historical” money, such as Italian lira before the Euro became the currency. I also have Macau “patacas” from when it was still a Portuguese territory.  (The five pataca coin has twelve sides.)

At one time, I was very interested in coins and started to collect certain types. My interest was in silver coins, which are cheaper than gold ones.  Also there is a larger variety of silver coins than gold ones.

One of the first coins I bought was the popular Morgan silver dollar.  Named after it’s designer (George Morgan), it was produced between 1878 and 1904 and then again in 1921.  I was able to find a BU (Brilliant Uncirculated) one dated 1884.  Later, I bought a BU 1904 Morgan produced at the New Orleans mint because fewer of these coins were minted.

1884 Morgan silver dollar

1884 Morgan silver dollar

I checked on the current value of these coins. The 1884 one is worth about $48, or a bit more than twice the $21.00 per ounce current price of silver.  The 1904 coin from New Orleans is worth about $68.  (These coins are 90% silver.)

Another popular silver dollar is the “peace” dollar.  This coin was minted between 1921 and 1928 and then from 1934-35.  The coin has “peace” under the eagle. This was my second coin purchase.

Peace dollar

Peace dollar

Since I was raised in the Philippines, I was also interested in any historical coins from that country.  My two favorites are related to the Second World War and the American colonial period.

In 1967, a commemorative coin was issued for the 25th anniversary of the fall of Bataan.  It is the size of the Morgan / Peace dollars (33 mm) and has a nominal denomination of “one peso” (at the time one dollar was worth four pesos).  Like the American dollars, it is 90% silver.  Only 100,000 of these coins were produced.  I bought two of them and turned one into jewelry by putting it into a bezel so I could wear it as a pendant.

Bataan commerative peso

Bataan commemorative peso

The other Philippine coin I like is a 1907 peso coin from the American colonial period.  It is interesting because the front has “Filipinas” (the Americanized Tagalog name for the country) while the reverse has the “United States of America.”  Not too many coins are in two languages.

American colonial peso - "Philippine" side

Philippine colonial peso – “Philippine” side

American colonial peso - "American" side

Philippine colonial peso – “American” side

The Saddle Ridge hoard coins will soon be for sale.  I suspect there’ll be a “gold rush” for these coins… I’d love to buy one, but I don’t think I can afford it.  Unless my stock investments do very well…

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5 responses to “This “Old Gold” May Bring A New Gold Rush

  1. I don’t believe you ever mentioned that before. It’s a cool hobby no matter the level of involvement. I have found ebay a really interesting source of hard to afford items, such as stamps. The key to working ebay is to not get caught up in a bidding war mentality i.e. “win at any cost.” I suspect you would enjoy it if you found what you are looking for.

    • No, I didn’t mention the coin interest before. No “opportunity” until now.

      The thing about eBay is I suspect there are “shills” driving up the price. Then, there’s the snipers, who bid 50 cents more with 10 seconds left.

      I have bought some items using the “Buy It Now” option if the price was right.

      If I come across a coin shop while traveling, I always look in and see what they have. That’s how I found the colonial peso.

  2. This was fascinating. I’ve never been a collector, and mostly find myself trying to get rid of stuff. I may have mentioned this before, but after the market crash of 1929, my maternal grandfather (like most people) no longer trusted banks. As I recall, you were supposed to turn in any gold coins you had in exchange for currency. (Do I have that right, pt?) In any case, my grandfather hoarded all the gold he had left, which he kept in coffee cans in his tool shed. Every shelf was lined with coffee cans, most of which were empty or held nails, etc., but a select few held gold coins. He knew which was which, based entirely on his memory, but he eventually shared his “system” with my father. My mother and grandmother knew or suspected the gold was there, but not where. When my grandfather died, my father went to the shed secretly and cleaned it out. While it was illegal to possess gold coins at the time my grandfather began hoarding them, apparently years later all was forgiven and my father claimed to have made a tidy sum from selling them.

    • You’re correct that the government required all gold coins to be turned in for paper currency.

      Your father should have held onto some of those gold coins, as they’d be even more valuable now. Not to mention they make very cool jewelry.

  3. ‘The thing about eBay is I suspect there are “shills” driving up the price. Then, there’s the snipers, who bid 50 cents more with 10 seconds left.’

    Yeah, but so what? If you get what you want by placing a bid that you’re comfortable with what difference does it make? Ya don’t have to talk to them.

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