Kentucky Farmer Found 700 Coins Worth Millions in a Field, Supporting Civil War Theory

By: Beth Moreton | Last updated: Jun 14, 2024

Treasure hunters always hope to find something special that will make hunting for the treasure worth it. For one man in Kentucky, he certainly found luck with his discovery. 

He found 700 gold coins in a cornfield. This discovery was amazing for him and supported a long-contested theory on Southerners during the Civil War. 

Gold Coins Worth Varying Amounts

When the man discovered the coins, they were worth different amounts. Some were worth $1, others were worth $10, and the highest amount any one coin was worth was $20.

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Three gold coins against a black background.

Source: @a7medtrade/X

These are all gold Indian and gold Liberty coins, as well as some super rare Liberty Double Eagle coins, which made the discovery even more special. 

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Coins Worth Over $1 Million

The coins were worth a huge amount, and when they were valued, their current day value was found to be over $1 million.

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Gold coins scattered around some dirt.

Source: @yourdailyscrypt/X

This amount is based on the number of coins and their quality. As they were found to be in near-perfect condition, this raises the worth of the coins even more.

Gold Coins and the Civil War

Not only are these coins worth a lot of money, but they are also part of history, as they have a strong connection to the Civil War. 

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A reenactment of the Civil War with soldier holding guns. One is carrying the Confederate flag.

Source: Jen Theodore/Unsplash

Kentucky wanted to find a way to declare its neutrality during the war, so it decided to bury the coins as a sign of this. Kentucky borders both northern and southern states and didn’t want to be seen as taking sides.

Kentucky Didn’t Remain Neutral for Long

Despite declaring neutrality at the beginning of the Civil War, Kentucky didn’t remain this way for long. 

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The Union flag from the American Civil War. It has thirteen stars in a circle in the blue square in the top left hand corner of the flag, with red and white stripes along the rest of it.

Source: Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons

A Confederate general took his troops into Kentucky, therefore violating any neutrality agreements that had previously been made. As a result, the Bluegrass State ended up joining the Union side.

No Guarantee the Coins Are From the Civil War

The coins have been dated between 1840 and 1863, the latter of which was during the Civil War. Due to the timeframe and the theory that the coins were buried during the Civil War, this is the main plausible explanation for the coins.

A pile of gold coins.

Source: aleksandra85foto/Pixabay

However, this isn’t a guarantee. There may have been another reason for the coins’ burial that is unknown, but the Civil War theory is currently the only explanation.

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The Gold Coins Were Authenticated

It’s very easy to come across something and think it’s a treasure only to find out later that it was nothing special or just a fake. This is why the Kentucky man decided to get these coins authenticated.

Gold coins scattered across a black table.

Source: @wnkytv/X

He used Jeff Garrett and the Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) for the authentication. They removed anything on the surface that could contaminate the coins and used something to help preserve them. It was during this process that they discovered how rare these coins are.

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Importance Cannot Be Overstated

Garrett expressed in a statement the importance of this gold coin discovery.

People fire old cannons in the traditional way.

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“The importance of this discovery cannot be overstated, as the stunning number of over 700 gold dollars represents a virtual time capsule of Civil War-era coinage, including coins from the elusive Dahlonega Mint,” said Garrett. 

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Incomprehensible Event

Garret continued in his statement to emphasize just how rare of an event such a discovery truly is.

A group of men fire muskets in a line.

Source: Chris Chow/Unsplash

“Finding one mint condition 1863 double eagle would be an important numismatic event. Finding nearly a roll of superb examples is hard to comprehend,” said Garrett.

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Value of the Coins

Andrew Salzberg, executive vice president of the Certified Collectibles Group told Spectrum News 1 that the value of the coins might be over $2 million.

A row of $100 dollar bills pictured on top of one another.

Source: Engin Akyurt/Unsplash

“This is probably one of the more significant discoveries of coins that were buried in the ground, probably within the last 50 years,” Salzburg said.

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Finest Known Grading

When commenting on the coins, Salzberg expressed his astonishment at how good of a condition they were in despite their age.

A group of men dressed in blue uniforms fire muskets.

Source: Garry/Unsplash

“A few of the coins actually graded the finest known. So they have the highest grade that we have seen of that coin to date,” said Salzberg. “The condition that they were found in is just unheard of.”

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Collectors Can Enjoy Them

Salzberg expressed his enthusiasm about how the find and the story have turned out, excited that this history once lost to the world can be enjoyed in the hands of collectors.

A black and white photo of soldiers firing muskets near a tree.

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“It kind of gives me chills that they had been in the ground for maybe 150 years or so, and now we’ve gotten the chance to see them, to conserve them, to bring them into the best possible condition they can be in. And now collectors can actually enjoy them,” said Salzberg.

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Discovery of a Life Time

Content creator from Kentucky Justin Couch commented on his feeling of wonder at the discovery, wishing he could have a few of these coins for his collection.

A man uses a metal detector in a field to find treasure.

Source: Jack B/Unsplash

“It’s a discovery of a lifetime. Every metal detector’s dream is to find something like this,” Couch said. “If I found it, I would definitely keep a couple of them for my personal collection, and then probably sell the rest of the hoard,” Couch said.

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A Liberty Coin Can Sell for Six Figures

As the coins are genuine, they could sell for millions. Just one of these coins has previously been sold at auction for a six-figure sum.

The Liberty gold coin. On one side it has the face of Liberty with “1849” and stars around the outside. On the other side, it has an emblem with “United States of America Twenty D.”

Source: @zaibatsu/X

This is the rare 1863-P $20 1-ounce Liberty coin. Only a handful of these are in existence, which makes them a keen find for collectors and investors who would willingly pay a lot for just one of these coins. 

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The Great Kentucky Hoard Has 18 Liberty Coins

What makes the Great Kentucky Hoard, as it has been labeled, even more special is that it has 18 of these rare Liberty coins.

The Liberty gold coin with an image of Liberty and stars around the outside.

Source: Lost Dutchman Rare Coins/Wikimedia Commons

These were in circulation between 1850 and 1907 and were worth $20 at the time. The Kentucky coins are even rarer as they do not have “In God We Trust” inscribed, which was only added in 1866 after the end of the Civil War.

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Gold Coins Are a Piece of History

The discovery of gold coins often showcases a key point of history. Kentucky isn’t the only state home to historic gold coins, as one Florida man found a historic gold coin at the bottom of the ocean.

A person holding a pile of gold coins, with other gold coins in the background.

Source: @histories_arch/X

He is another treasure hunter who has spent his entire life looking for treasure of some kind, and he has finally discovered something of importance. He managed to find $300,000 worth of gold coins. 

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Surge in Gold Coin Value

Since the beginning of 2024, the valuation of gold coins has surged. This doesn’t just include the coins found in the cornfield, as anyone who might own a rare gold coin could find it is now worth more than ever before.

A pile of gold coins with different prints on them.

Source: TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

This is due to investors finding gold coins attractive now more than ever. If you’re someone who has a gold coin and is looking to make a bit of extra money in a time of economic uncertainty, now might be a good time to look into selling it. 

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What People Can Learn From Gold Coins

To some, gold coins might just be gold coins. To others, they are art and history that everyone can learn from.

A pile of gold coins and chains.

Source: Johanna84/Pixabay

You can also learn about economics and the people of the time the coins were made and put into circulation. You can even learn about how they saved coins and why they are of such significant importance.

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Reaction Online

This Civil War story enthralled commenters online, whose imaginations were inspired by the possibility of hidden treasure.

A glowing treasure chest that promises something shiny is inside it.

Source: Ashin Suresh/Unsplash

“That’s an incredible find! The Great Kentucky Hoard sounds like a fascinating piece of history. Your tweet about the man’s discovery captures the excitement of uncovering a hidden treasure. It’s stories like these that make history truly come alive,” said one X user.

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Viral Attention

The story was reposted to an X account called “Historic Vids” in January, where it received viral attention with over 12 million views.

An x post by Historic Vids, showing off the coins in the Kentucky story.

Source: historyinmemes/X

The post got over 65,00 likes and featured a short video examining the coins spread out over a black table.

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Value of the Dollar

Some commenters of the story lamented just how much money used to be worth back then, with some awestruck how a $3 gold coin could possibly equate to $100,000 in today’s money.

A lone dollar bill against a white surface

Source: Kenny Eliason/Unsplash

“This kind of shows you just how much the value of the dollar went down. Not that I don’t understand the historical value, but $100,000 each?! Jesus…” wrote X user Molly Smash.

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Jokes Abound

Other users tried their hand at making jokes, claiming this valuable stash was once theirs.

A collection of corn gathered into a pile.

Source: Pierre Bamin/Unsplash

“Bullsh*t, those items belong to me. While strolling through that cornfield, I unfortunately had a hole in my pocket, causing them to slip out. I would appreciate it if you could return them to me,” said an X user.

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Everyone’s Luck is Different

Some took the opportunity to express disappointment of the luck in their own lives, never stumbling upon something so lucrative.

Rain falls on green clovers that symbolize luck.

Source: Yan Ming/Unsplash

“I can’t win $5 off a scratch ticket,” said one X user. “All my life I have “known” that there is buried civil war gold out there, waiting to be found,” said another X user.

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Sharing Similar Stories

Still, other viewers of the Kentucky coin story shared that they too have found similar items while randomly exploring, giving hope to those who want to find their own treasure out there.

US coins falling out of a wire trash can.

Source: Ash ismail/Unsplash

“I found 3 of these when I was a weird kid digging randomly in my backyard in Virginia and my parents made good $ off of it I got a slice of pizza for my discovery those cheap *sses,” said an X user.

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