Sunday, August 17, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – St. Cloud (Florida) Find - July/August 2014

When I spoke at the Summer FUN show in Orlando, someone asked me when I expected the next hoard to be found.  I cannot remember my exact words but basically I said it is out there hidden and just waiting to be discovered.

Fast forward one month and I received an email from a new friend and fellow pedigree collector about a recent coin find in a condemned house in St. Cloud, Florida (near Orlando).   The find reportedly contained over 2,000 silver coins including many Walking Liberty half dollars.  Here is the article that appeared in the Orlando Sentinel on August 8th about the hoard:


Thousands of silver coins discovered in condemned St. Cloud house


Treasure: 30 lbs of silver coins hidden for decades




ST. CLOUD — Florida has a long history of buried, lost or sunken treasures.

Most involve shipwrecks and gold doubloons or "Pieces of Eight."

This tale involves a condemned home with a crumbling chimney in a neighborhood once home to Civil War veterans near the shores of East Lake Tohopekaliga.

"The house was full of Florida junk," neighbor Jim Tuck said Friday about the 30 pounds of silver coins discovered in the recently demolished North Minnesota Avenue home. "It was grab, grab, grab and then talk, talk, talk."

Stored for decades inside the walls, large glass pickle jars holding the more than 2,000 coins shattered when a crew of St. Cloud city workers leveled 1915 bungalow on April 22.

At least one large construction dumpster had been removed before a member of the crew kept hearing the sound of metal pouring out of the walls.

"It was like a treasure hunt … the more you dug the more you found," said Melissa Howes of city code enforcement, laughing about the scramble to find more. "We thought we might be able to keep it like finders keepers, but it was city property."

Nothing was announced publicly, but rumors began circulating month ago.

This week, police Chief Pete Gauntlett showed off the coins that have been stored in police evidence.

City officials had been waiting to see whether anyone would come forward claiming ownership, he said.

The booty included 861 half dollars, 1,016 quarters, 202 dimes and three nickels, police records show.

The oldest spotted among the half dollars was dated 1917 and the most recent was a 1964 Kennedy half dollar.

Gauntlett speculated the coins began being hidden in the walls during the Great Depression when Floridians and others lost faith in banks. The practice continued until at least 1964 by a previous owner.

"We're going to have them appraised to see if they're worth more by weight or as collectible coins," said Gauntlett of their eventual sale.

Silver currently sells for about $20 an ounce.

The last owner of the house, Lamarr LoMax Lowe, abandoned it last year after failing to pay $511,500 in code-enforcement liens including daily $250 fines for more than 10 years, according to city records.

A former Walt Disney World employee, Lowe bought the 776-square-foot house in 1991 for $39,900.

Prior to abandoning the house last year, neighbors said Lowe lived there for months without water or electricity and that he ran a Christian-themed business specializing in marathon runners' T-shirts.

Lowe could not be reached for comment.

But the dream of finding more lost treasure remains alive.

Howes said she thinks more coins were taken to the dump before the treasure was discovered. "I'm not kidding."

End of Orlando Sentinel story.  Pictures of the coins and demolition project can be found at:
 


 
While this hoard may not contain rare collector coins, it does illustrate that there probably are a lot more coins stashed in old homes just waiting to be discovered.  What is a bit frightening is how close these coins came to not being discovered.  It makes you wonder how many old buildings have been torn down that contained treasures and no one found them.

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