Was a stash of gold coins stolen - more than 100 years ago?

By: CBS
By: CBS

San Francisco, CA (CBS) - CBS News told you last week about a California couple who found millions of dollars' worth of 19th century gold coins -- buried in their backyard, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

No one knew how the coins got there, or where they came from.

Now there is an intriguing clue. The coins found in the buried cans have a total face value of $27,000. But their pristine condition makes them worth more than $10 million.
Coin dealer Don Kagin represents the couple who spotted one of the cans sticking from the ground as they were hiking.

"Nothing resonates like this," he said. "This is buried treasure, something that we all fantasize about."
But the near perfect condition of the 1,400 coins raised suspicions among historians, who pointed to this article from 1901. It reports $30,000 "stolen from the vault of the cashier of the San Francisco Mint. No trace has been found...."
The suspect in that case was Walter N. Dimmick. The mint clerk served prison time after an audit found 1,500 coins missing from the mint vault. He denied any wrong doing.

"There is no, no connection between these coins which were buried over many, many years and a heist that took place at the San Francisco Mint," Kagin said.
There is nothing in federal law resembling a clear "finders keepers" provision for currency stolen from the U.S. Mint. It is the property of the United States.

But today the U.S. Mint told us it has no information linking the coins to "...any theft(s) at any United States Mint facility," adding, "...at this time we do not intend to investigate...."

The U.S. Mint may not want any money but the IRS does. Profits earned from the sale of the coins is considered income, and fully taxable. All that glitters - well you know the rest.

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