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Questions raised over California treasure trove worth US$10 mil.

LOS ANGELES--A dealer handling a US$10 million treasure trove found by a U.S. couple dismissed Tuesday a report that the horde may have been stolen and therefore would have to be given back.

The California couple uncovered eight cans filled with more than 1,400 coins on their property, in what is believed to be the most valuable treasure trove ever discovered in the United States.

They took them to a firm specializing in ancient coins, Kagin's Inc, which valued them and announced last week that they will sell them, via online retail giant Amazon.

But on Monday the San Francisco Chronicle linked the find — called the Saddle Ridge Treasure trove — to a robbery at the San Francisco Mint.

It published a newspaper report from January 1, 1900, referring to the recent theft which it said mostly involved mint, uncirculated coins, with an overall face value of up to US$27,000 — similar to the Saddle Ridge trove.

If proven to be from the U.S. Mint, the coins might be the property of the government and have to be handed back, according to an ABC news online report.

Auctioneers Confident

Kagin Inc. boss Donald Kagin however told AFP he was “very confident” that the Saddle Ridge trove was not linked to the San Francisco Mint theft.

“There's a number of reasons why they can't possibly be” connected, he said.

He cited records from the time of the San Francisco theft suggesting it involved five canvas sacks filled with US$20 gold coins — whereas the Saddle Ridge horde also had US$10 and other coins.

In addition the stolen coins “would have all been mint state, recently struck coins,” he said.

“But only some of the coins in the Saddle Ridge horde are. Many others are circulated coins, struck over a long period of time and clearly buried over a long period of time.

“The only parallel here is the similar (face) value. But again, not even that's that close because of the different denominations,” he said.

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