The Perils of Getting Lucky (Part 1)

 (Keep your eyes peeled when taking the garden path.)

It's time to trod the garden path again and repeat myself on a topic that may not be of big importance to you now, but it damn well should be. Want to save yourself potential pain, misery, heartache, and most importantly, money? Well read on my friend.

Two Key Factors

By now most of you are aware (and I thank those of you who passed this info and accompanying photos along to me) of the exceptionally rich find of $10,000,000-$12,000,000 in old, uncirculated gold coins in California's Motherlode Region by a couple walking a trail on their property. Buried in old cans at the base of a tree and exposed by erosion and the elements, some individual coins in this stash could be worth a million dollars or more on their own.

This is one reason you never want to melt down gold or silver coins for their metal or bullion content alone. Two key factors influence coin or "numismatic" value:

1) Condition

2) Rarity

No rocket science course necessary here folks. The better the overall condition of a collectible coin (little or no wear or dents, scratches, gouges, etc.) and the more natural its patina (don't ever attempt to clean a valuable coin), the more valuable that coin is to collectors. Ditto for a given coin's rarity...common date or less-rare coins have less value while just the opposite is true for rare coins or dates, unusual mint marks, and so on.

Cruel Fate

OK, that out of the way let me get to the real grist of this post. Many of you are silently shaking your heads and saying to yourselves, "Lucky bastards! Why doesn't anything like that ever happen to me?" Well I feel your pain brothers and sisters, I truly do. After all, as a self-proclaimed treasure hunter and small-scale gold miner for nearly 36 years now, I've actually TRIED to find caches like this. I've spent countless hours of research poring over old maps and narratives, driven far too many miles, braved ice, sleet, rain, wind, snow, and shriveling heat, spent inordinate amounts of folding green, and never hit what I call the "big one."

 (The coins in question as found in their cans.)

Sure, I've had my successes too. I've turned up small cash/coin caches here and there, found some valuable artifacts on occasion and, in truth, made boo-coo bucks gleaning silver and gold from various Southern California beaches. But I never hit anything anywhere close to this exceptional "dumb-luck" find. Goes to show you just how cruel the fates can be at times.

Thank Your Lucky Stars

But before you continue pulling your hair out by the roots or banging your head against that masonry wall in jealousy and frustration of these California treasure finders, you may want to take a deep breath and consider again the title of this series of posts, "The Perils of Getting Lucky."

Now I have your attention, don't I? "What perils?" you ask. "How could being so incredibly lucky be perilous?" Yep, how could stumbling across millions in gold coins be negative in any way, shape, or form? "Typical J.R., always looking at the down side."  Well there's truth in what you say, but if you can't see the potential downside to these sorts of happenstances then I 'm here to tell you right here and now that you should thank your lucky stars it WASN'T YOU that found this particular stash.

We'll get down to the nitty gritty in my next post on this topic.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2014

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. I just spent 4 weeks metel detaching in AZ, found 00. Lol. Meet an old timer been looking 60 days =00.
    some folks are born lucky and by the sounds of it this couple doesn't need the money. Enevy

  2. Isn't that always the case...those with $$$ make more or find it?! Best to you, J.R.

  3. Hi Howard,
    I think this one should fall under what you preach about so often, "Keep your damn mouth shut!".


  4. JR, this is a lot like what Mark Twain said about millionaires.... He said " I'm against millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the job." Winning the lottery, finding cans full of gold coins.....I'd like to try it out! Just be very careful who you tell about it! Gary

    1. Be very, very careful about who you tell. Amen brother. J.R.

  5. You're not wrong, there's a bloke in Australia that's found over a million dollars in nuggets. Great! He's also won millions in lotto money. Born lucky.

    Jim what do you think of the so called 2nd gold rush in Ca? Historic drought uncovering gold never before seen gold bearing ground.

    1. Anytime you get low water conditions like California's, there's gold to be had for those who know how to get it. Best, J.R.


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