(Adds listing of coin without "In God We Trust" motto)
By Laura Rena Murray
SAN FRANCISCO May 28 About half of a roughly
$11 million collection of 19th century gold pieces unearthed by
a California couple has been sold, an organizer said on
Wednesday, with sales at Amazon.com surpassing $1 million in
just the first hour.
Some 1,400 coins were put on sale beginning on Tuesday by
San Francisco-area numismatic firm Kagin's Inc.
The pieces were available at Amazon.com and Kagins.com, with
60 of them put up on display at the mint where the vast majority
of the coins were struck in San Francisco.
A California couple, who have remained anonymous, found the
coins under a tree while walking their dog on their property in
the state's Sierra Nevada mountain Gold Country, where
prospectors and miners converged to seek their fortunes in the
state's 1849 Gold Rush.
The collection, named the Saddle Ridge Hoard for the area
where it was found, is in nearly mint condition and contains
pieces struck from 1847 to 1894.
"It was someone's savings account by the oak tree," said
David McCarthy, a coin specialist with Kagin's Inc.
Organizers listed for sale on Wednesday a unique 1866 coin
that is missing the motto "In God We Trust," McCarthy said. The
mint in San Francisco at the time did not have the capacity to
inscribe that phrase, he said, even though the U.S. Congress had
made it a part of the currency.
The collection had initially been expected to sell for over
$10 million, but organizers have since increased that estimate
to over $11 million.
The couple found 1,427 coins in all and for sentimental
reasons they kept a few, but McCarthy would not say how many.
After the coins were listed on Amazon.com on Tuesday night,
sales surpassed $1 million within the first hour, he said, with
a total of 346 coins sold at that site so far.
At Kagin's website, 225 coins were sold by midnight on
Tuesday for a total of $2.4 million, he said.
While the total number of coins sold amounts to about half
the collection of 1,400 pieces, many of the more expensive
pieces remain up for sale.
The first coin in the sale, a $20 Double Eagle coin from
1874, was bought for $15,000, by Ray Lent, a partner with Placer
Partners, which is involved in plans to restore the mint and
make it a museum.
(Additional reporting by Madeleine Thomas; Editing by Alex
Dobuzinskis, Ken Wills and Eric Walsh)