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Are gold coins from S.F. Mint heist?

AFP-JIJI

The California couple who unearthed gold coins worth more than $10 million might have to surrender them because they may have been stolen, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The couple uncovered eight cans filled with more than 1,400 coins on their property in what is believed to be the most valuable treasure trove ever found in the U.S. They took them to a firm specializing in ancient coins, Kagin’s Inc., which valued them and announced last week they would be sold via Amazon.com.

But on Monday the Chronicle linked the find — dubbed the Saddle Ridge Treasure — to a robbery at the San Francisco Mint.

It published a newspaper report from Jan. 1, 1900, referring to the theft of mostly newly minted, uncirculated coins with an overall face value of up to $27,000 — similar to the Saddle Ridge trove.

Coin firm boss Donald Kagin said, however, he was “very confident” that the Saddle Ridge trove was not linked to the San Francisco Mint theft.

“There’s a number of reasons why they can’t possibly be” connected, he said.

He cited records from the time of the San Francisco theft suggesting it involved five canvas sacks filled with $20 gold coins — whereas the Saddle Ridge horde also had $10 and other coins.

In addition the stolen coins “would have all been mint state, recently struck coins,” he said. “But only some of the coins in the Saddle Ridge horde are. Many others are circulated coins, struck over a long period of time and clearly buried over a long period of time.

“The only parallel here is the similar (face) value. But again, not even that’s that close because of the different denominations,” he said.

He also pointed to a statement from the U.S. Mint in Washington, sent to him in an email, which said: “We do not have any information linking the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins to any thefts at any U.S. Mint facility.”

Kagin said plans to sell the hoard in about two months remain in place. Asked if he could guarantee to the couple that there would be no hitches in the sale, he said: “Nobody can guarantee anything. But we are absolutely on our timeline with Amazon.com and kagins.com, to be selling these coins sometime in May.”