Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Just out walking the dog…

Every once it a while, there’s a just plain feel-good story, and my current candidate is the one about the California couple who were out walking their dog when they:

…stumbled across a modern-day bonanza: $10 million in rare, mint-condition gold coins buried in the shadow of an old tree. (Source: AP via boston.com)

Now I’ve found some cash along the way.

When I was four, I found a $10 bill at Crane’s beach, which was a big deal because a) I was four, and b) $10 was worth a lot more back then. I have no idea whether this find was deposited in my little passbook account, or whether it paid for the day for the family. (Ice cream cones on Moe!)

A few years ago, I found $20 on the sidewalk on Charles Street.

And, while I wouldn’t stoop to pick up a penny, I have found the odd quarter or dime on the street.

My husband once found $40 in the gutter while he was stepping out of a cab in Cambridge. It was an opportune find, as he was in Cambridge to buy the $40 karate outfit we were getting as a birthday present for our young friend Sam.

But I don’t imagine there’s $10 million dollars worth of findings to be had on the streets or sidewalks of Boston, in our condo building’s 75 square foot front garden, or the cemented over “backyard.” I suspect that, if the backyard were torn up, the best that would be unearthed would be some 1860’s-era bottles, our building having been erected in that era.

But nothing anywhere near in value to the California mother lode:

Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition, said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, which recently authenticated them. Although the face value of the gold pieces only adds up to more than $28,000, some of them are so rare that coin experts say they could fetch nearly $1 million apiece.

Understandably, the dog walkers have chosen to remain anonymous.

After all, they don’t want to set off a latter-day Gold Rush in which hordes of ‘14-ers show up on their remote, rural property with their hobby shop metal detectors and start pickaxing around to see if they can find another rusted can full of rare coins.

In addition to not wanting to have to start warding off intruders, the couple likes the way they already live just fine, thank you, wanting only to keep calm and carry on, pay off some bills, and make some charitable donations:

‘‘Their concern was this would change the way everyone else would look at them, and they’re pretty happy with the lifestyle they have today,’’ [veteran numismatist Don Kagin, who is representing the finders] said.

I suspect that they won’t be able to maintain their anonymity forever. Someone in their community will recognize the situation and blab.

And I’ll bet whoever sold them the property a few years back is kicking themselves in the head and backside for not having been as eagle-eyed and observant as these folks. Although even if the previous owners had been eagle-eyed and observant, they might not have found the find:

The coins had been buried by a path the couple had walked for years. On the day they found them last spring, the woman had bent over to examine an old rusty can that erosion had caused to pop slightly out of the ground.

Anyway, I just loved this story.

Unfortunately, the trash I pick up in the local gutters is usually of the empty cigarette pack, crumpled up Starbucks cup, and ripped up parking ticket variety.

Guess I’ll just have to go for the gold the old-fashioned way, and get a couple of lottery tickets.

1 comment:

valerie said...

Here's a little something exactly no one knows about me till now: I always, always bend to pick up pennies -- even when I really don't want to. Decades ago I landed on this policy as a way to practice gratitude. Every time I pick up a penny I do so being consciously grateful that I don't need it ... that I have been blessed with the gift of earning to fund the gift of giving and life. Love Pink Slip every day.