Saddle Ridge Hoard coins embezzled in 1901? The 1,447 gold coins, found on the property of a northern California couple, have multiple reported histories of how they arrived there, with one of the theories worthy of a closer examination. The first was that Jessie James and his gang buried the coins with the goal of financing a second Civil War. That account rings false over an important detail. James died 12 years before the last coin was minted.
When he was not writing poetry, the gentleman robber Black Bart absconded with the funds from the stagecoaches he robbed. Facts get in the way of making that account plausible. Bart committed his crimes between 1877 and 1883. When the law caught up with Bart, he went to jail. Another detail making the theory prove false: the latest date of one of the recovered coins was 1894 and all the coins were pristine once cleaned.
Currently, an interesting theory comes from Jack Trout. He believes the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins were embezzled in from the San Francisco Mint by a single person Walter Dimmick. Trout saw the original Saddle Ridge Hoard story on the news and did his own research. Trout, a collector of rare coins and a historian, found a newspaper called the Bulletin. From the front page of the paper marked and dated “Philadelphia January 1, 1900,” four short lines discuss how $30,000 in gold coins were stolen from the San Francisco Mint by a cashier. The brief article ended with no trace of the missing gold being found.
Evidence suggests the Saddle Ridge Horde could be those missing gold coins. What was recently recovered by the couple in added up to $27,000. The $3,000 missing could still be out there or was used by Dimmick for his living expenses.
Dimmick was the chief cashier at the mint in 1901. He began working there in 1898. An audit revealed a shortage of $20 Double Eagle coins amounting to $30,000. He became the chief suspect and served a nine-year conviction at California’s San Quentin.
The Saddle Ridge Hoard contained 1,400 in $20 gold pieces contained in old coffee containers. Dimmick was accused to taking six bags worth with each bag containing 250 coins. Also missing were 50 $10 gold pieces and four $5 gold pieces making the account worthy of further investigation.
Not knowing where the couple lived in northern California hinders the current mystery. Did Dimmick live or travel near the location where the coins were found? Did he have a summer cottage in the area? Did his lifestyle become more lavish? What did the coffee cans look like?
The couple who found the coins still wishes to remain anonymous so the exact location of their northern California property remains unknown. The $5, $10, and $20 gold coins were recovered well over a year ago. While walking their property, the couple spotted an old coffee can. Unearthing it, they thought it was an old paint container because it was heavy. Returning home and opening it, they discovered it contained gold coins. Returning to the area with a metal detector, they found seven more cans. The couple recovered 1,427 gold coins with dates spanning 1847 to 1894. The find became known as the Saddle Ridge Hoard.
San Francisco Mint spokesman Adam Stump issued a statement saying there was no known link to the recovered coins and to any robbery or embezzlement from the San Francisco Mint. Surviving records from the mint were sent to the National Archives where they remained in storage.
Unless there is a court order, the couple plans to sell most of the coins and keep a few of the more valuable ones for themselves. Their advice for any gold hunters: “Do not be above bending over and checking a rusty can.”
Were the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins embezzled in 1901? Trout’s newspaper article suggests a closer examination of Dimminick’s life between 1898 when he began working at the mint and 1904 when he lost his final appeal. Dimminick may have buried the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins in 1901 to conceal his embezzlement, the Saddle Ridge Hoard may be his buried treasure.
By Brian T. Yates