A Civil War-era treasure of more than 700 gold coins was unearthed in a Kentucky cornfield, a find that has at least partly vindicated legends of lost Civil War gold that have driven American treasure hunters for more than 150 years.
The discovery, which coin sellers have called the Great Kentucky Hoard, was made on a farm by a man who has so far remained anonymous.
In a video posted on June 9 on YouTube, the man is seen frantically counting mounds of coins caked with dirt.
“This is the most insane thing ever,” he said, pointing out coins that were later certified by the Numismatic Guaranty Company as genuine $1, $10 and $20 gold coins minted before and during the Civil War.
The man’s excited reaction to his discovery was perhaps a hint that he knew just how much that gold was worth.
GovMint.com, a coin dealer that is now selling the coins, valued a single gold dollar from the collection at roughly $1,000. As of Sunday morning, those coins were already sold out.
One type of coin in the haul drew particular attention from coin collectors: gold Liberty double eagles minted in 1863, which today are valued at anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to $381,875 at auction, depending on their condition and when they were minted.
With GovMint.com selling several double eagles in the hoard for more than $100,000, the total value of the treasure could exceed $1 million.
Efforts to recover these troves are fiercely competitive.
After the F.B.I. excavated an area of rural Pennsylvania where a trove of lost Civil War gold was rumored to have been lost, treasure hunters accused the F.B.I. of a cover-up, arguing that the agency had hidden its discovery of the gold and taken it for itself.
That may explain why the man who discovered the treasure in Kentucky has so far chosen to remain anonymous.
It is unclear how he found the gold and whether he had suspected that the treasure was buried on the farm. Despite the secrecy, some hobbyists say the mysterious treasure hunter’s efforts to remain hidden have not gone far enough.
“I would never even think about posting this find on the world wide web for anyone and everyone to see,” a highly upvoted YouTube comment said underneath the video of the hoard’s discovery. “Keep that stash private!”