After three months of open-mouthed wonder and wild speculation, the day has finally come - the $10 million worth of gold coins dug up in a Sierra Nevada couple's backyard are going on sale Tuesday.
First revealed in February, the Saddle Ridge Hoard of 19th century coins has spawned hundreds of theories about their origins. Some amateur historians say the hoard - believed to be the biggest buried treasure ever found in the United States - came from stagecoach bandit Black Bart, while others say it was outlaw Jesse James' booty.
Hundreds of would-be claimants have popped up saying their grandfathers, aunts or more distant relatives owned the coins - and they've demanded them back. One man journeyed to the Gold Rush-era town of Jackson (Amador County) where he's sure the coins were first buried, said he'd found their original location at an ancestor's house, and threatened to sue.
So far, none of the theories has panned out. The couple managed to keep their identity secret to avoid armies of treasure hunters or scam artists, federal coin officials say nobody else made a legitimate claim, and now it's time to cash in.
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