NGC Certifies the 'Great Kentucky Hoard' of Pre-1865 US Gold Coinage

Posted on 6/13/2023

The cache of rare Civil War-era coins unearthed in the Bluegrass State includes finest-known 1863 Double Eagles as well as several interesting varieties and errors.

Numismatic Guaranty Company® (NGC®) was honored to recently certify an incredible cache of rare Civil War-era coins found in the Bluegrass State. “The Great Kentucky Hoard” (as it had been designated) includes a group of finest-known 1863 Double Eagles and hundreds of US Gold Dollars dated 1850 to 1862, as well as a small number of silver coins. Several interesting varieties and errors were also discovered.

During the American Civil War, the state of Kentucky played an important role, as it bordered Union states in the north and Confederate states in the south. Situated as such, tensions were high from the beginning of the nation's unrest, and when the war began in 1861, Kentucky Governor Beriah Magoffin asserted the state’s neutrality with the “Kentucky Declaration of Neutrality.”

Despite the Declaration of Neutrality, the Civil War was a time of great turmoil in Kentucky. Many families were pitted against one another, and Kentucky saw much conflict. The Great Kentucky Hoard may have been a result of this conflict, with the coins lost for over 150 years, until they were unearthed in a cornfield. Details of the location and finder will remain confidential.

The hoard of Civil War-era coins (pictured left) before certification.
The coins were entrusted with rare coin dealer Jeff Garrett (pictured right), shown with the hoard after grading.
Click images to enlarge.

Rare coin dealer Jeff Garrett, a leading expert in US coinage, was contacted to handle the newly discovered group of coins.

“While I’m always excited when someone calls asking for advice about a rare coin discovery, the opportunity to handle the Great Kentucky Hoard is one of the highlights of my career,” he said. “The importance of this discovery cannot be overstated, as the stunning number of over 700 gold dollars represents a virtual time capsule of Civil War-era coinage, including coins from the elusive Dahlonega Mint. Finding one Mint condition 1863 Double Eagle would be an important numismatic event. Finding nearly a roll of superb examples is hard to comprehend.”

GovMint, one of the largest rare coin retailers in the country, has been chosen to offer the Great Kentucky Hoard to collectors.

“We are deeply honored and tremendously excited to have been chosen as the exclusive provider for the public sale of the remarkable coins that are part of the Great Kentucky Hoard. This extraordinary opportunity allows us to share these historic coins with collectors and enthusiasts, ensuring their preservation and appreciation for generations to come,” said Bill Gale, GovMint Founder and President.

The coins will be available in the coming months. Each is encapsulated with a special NGC Great Kentucky Hoard certification label, enhancing their display and presentation. For the latest information about availability, go here.

Click images to enlarge.

Click images to enlarge.

Varieties and errors discovered during NCS conservation

Before the coins were graded, the NGC affiliate Numismatic Conservation Services™ (NCS™) performed the challenging task of conservation.

“From first hearing about the hoard, to seeing the raw coins and through to viewing the coins attributed, graded and encapsulated, it has been an amazing experience,” said David Camire, NCS President and NGC Finalizer. “While assisting in conserving the hoard, I was able to examine each coin in detail. This yielded some interesting varieties and errors.”

Click images to enlarge.

The first variety discovered was the 1862 Gold Dollar with a doubled die obverse. This is a known variety and attributed as FS-101. The doubling is quite evident in most of the lettering, and the feather detail of the portrait. There were just three of these among all of the gold dollars in the hoard. NGC has graded a total of 23 in all grades.

This trio was followed by a handful (11 coins) of 1861 Gold Dollars that had medallic alignment in error, instead of the normal coin alignment.

The last variety found was quite significant as it turned out to be an unlisted variety of a re-punched date and was assigned a new NGC variety number of VP-002. The date was re-punched into the die a second time lower than the first. This resulted in a double image to the date. Only two of these discovery coins were found among the hoard.

“The coins, discovered in the ground and remarkably well preserved, possess an astonishing luster and a newfound freshness rarely observed in coins of this kind,” said Andy Salzberg, Executive Vice President of the Certified Collectibles Group® (CCG®), of which NGC is part. “NGC is incredibly delighted to have been selected as the preferred grading service for this extraordinary discovery, which can be deemed as a truly exceptional occurrence in a lifetime.”

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