Think Like a Pirate, pt. 1

post dateAugust 11, 2014  •   post categoriesUncategorized  •   post comments number8 comments

Saddle Ridge Hoard

Striking It Rich!

You’ve heard this story countless times: a lone man, with a map and a shovel, starts to dig feverishly.  As the hole he’s working in grows deeper, he only becomes more energized, more excited.

Suddenly, “clang!”, his spade hits something man-made and metallic under the earth.  As he brings out the container, he uses his digging tool to hammer off the rusted lock, and pry open the chest.  Screams of excitement fill the air, as he sings and dances like a schoolboy, knowing that the riches he’s just unearthed will change his life forever.

SD Bullion

Yes: buried treasure.  There are few things in this world that can set our hearts and imaginations aflame quite like it.  Many of such tales are true stories, while others are just entertainment.  But we love them all, whether true or not. We love them because we want to believe that we too could strike it rich.  These stories represent all the best possibilities of life, and that our own lives could be filled with adventure.

SD Bullion

Consider the latest, real-life, hidden treasure that was discovered in California just months ago, by a retired couple.  This hoard, dubbed the “Saddle Ridge Hoard”(please do yourself a favor, and visit their site, the pics alone are worth it), was just there, lying in several old, rusty cans.  The cans were happened upon by the couple who were walking their dog, and when it was all dug up, over 1,400 U.S. gold coins were recovered from them.  These coins weren’t simply precious for their gold content.  They were also exquisite collector’s items due to their pristine(for you, Matt) condition.  In fact, some of these coins are now believed to be the very best-kept examples of their kind in the world.  All in all, the coins at auction are expected to fetch more than $10 million dollars.

The Psychology of Burying Treasure

There’s another reason why I’ve always loved buried treasure so much: there are untold stories(and questions) behind every single of them.  Right?  Three of the most important questions(untold stories) about every buried treasure are:

1) Who buried these valuables?

2) Why did they bury them in the first place? 

And, perhaps most importantly..

3) Why did they never come back to get it?

Now, the 2nd question is always easiest to answer to a degree.  Everyone buries something because they want to keep it safe.  They want to make sure that they alone can access this wealth, if they’re put into a compromising situation.  Think about it, in the days before modern banking/storage facilities, there wasn’t always adequate assurance that the owners of wealth could hang onto it safely.  Sure, they had safes, or good hiding places, but those could be forced open or discovered.  The ultimate solution for finding peace of mind about your valuables, was to bury them.

The reasons for seeking the safety of leaving your wealth within the earth itself, has varied throughout history.  Oftentimes money was buried due to the threat or reality of military invasion.  Would you want all your family’s net worth to be plundered by a hostile force of foreigners who were ransacking your country?  Right, neither did these people.

Others buried their wealth for very different reasons.  Some did so because they were running from something or someone, and needed to “lose the evidence”.  While other hoards were buried, because they were illegally obtained in the first place, and the perpetrator wanted to keep the authorities from returning the “swag” to the rightful owners(i.e. pirates).

Detective Questions for the Saddle Ridge Hoard:

When I first read about the Saddle Ridge Hoard though, something about it didn’t sit quite right with me. So, knowing that the U.S Mint in San Francisco had ruled out a burglary a century ago, I started asking myself some questions about possible motivation for burial:

1) Why would someone bury these coins in a place where military invasion wasn’t remotely an issue?  Remember(except for ancient, kingly burials or worship rituals) the key that most buried treasures have in common is the owners are seeking to remove their riches from an imminent threat. California certainly wasn’t under threat of siege between 1894-1914(the most likely time these valuables were buried).  So, threat of invasion is ruled out.

2) Even more puzzling is the question: Why would someone bury these coins during a time of the classical gold standard?  Ponder this, from the throughout that timeline, up until about World War I, both gold and silver coins could be obtained from any bank by simply redeeming your certificates(your dollars) in exchange for them.  Paper dollars were originally a receipt, a claim, on the real goods: gold and silver. The person who owned those coins, simply could have left them in their local bank’s safe, and just returned the receipts in exchange for the coins anytime they wished.  So, why didn’t they just do that? 

Unless…unless there was a more disturbing reason they didn’t wish to do that.

There was something else going on here, some key to this puzzle that seemed missing.

Then all at once, it hit me like a ton of bricks:

I think I may know what they were seeking safety from, and the shocking answer still has implications for you and your wealth here in 2014….

Continued here, in Part 2.


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