Rare gold coins make debut at Atlanta money show

Metro Atlantans can get a first glimpse of some of those rare gold coins, which a California couple found while walking, at a collector’s show opening Thursday at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

One is an 1849 gold coin that was stamped in the North Georgia town of Dahlonega.

Don Kagin, a veteran numismatist with Kagin Inc. who is representing the California couple, said most of the coins will be sold. But an official with the company said they will lend some to the American Numismatic Association for its National Money Show.

Historic Georgia paper money and gold coins, including 19th-century coins struck at Dahlonega, also will be on display, said Donn Pearlman, spokesman for the show.

Twenty years before the 1849 gold rush in California, thousands of prospectors flocked into the Cherokee Nation in North Georgia, marking the true beginning of our country’s first gold rush, said Mary Huff, spokeswoman for the Dahlonega Gold Museum. Dahlonega thrived, and a U.S. Branch Mint opened in 1838, stamping more than $6 million in gold coins before closing in 1861. Today, visitors can see a complete set of these rare coins, a nugget weighing more than 5 ounces, a hydraulic cannon and a gift shop.

According to Kagin’s senior numismatist, David McCarthy, one coin in the cache was produced by the Dahlonega Mint, and it will be on display Saturday.

“It’s the only one of the find that is dated 1849, which is the year that the California gold rush began,” McCarthy said. It’s ironic that this Georgia coin was minted in 1849. It’s also the most evocative coin in the group — it’s easy to imagine someone getting this coin in Georgia, putting it in their pocket, then traveling by wagon to San Francisco.”

“We believe there are less than 200 of this particular 1849 coin from Dahlonega that was found by the California couple,” said Kim Hatcher, a representative of the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site.

The couple was out for a hike and stumbled across the buried cache when a sliver of gold caught their eyes. The rare, mint-condition gold coins buried in the shadow of an old tree are estimated to be worth about $10 million.

The Associated Press reported 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, Calif., 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 each.

In all, Pearlman said there will be more than $1 billion worth of historic rare coins and colorful paper money on public display through Saturday, the only day admission is free.

In addition, Pearlman said some of the ANA’s top experts will be available to give the public free informal appraisals of their coins and paper money on that day.

Exhibits will include high denomination currency including $100,000 bills and $500 million Treasury Notes from the U.S. Treasury Department Bureau of Engraving and Printing; a famous $2.5 million 1913 Liberty Head nickel; a rare $4 million 1804 silver dollar; and historic, seldom-seen centuries-old Georgia gold coins and early Georgia paper money.

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