The Mohawk Valley Hoard (fantastic find)
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  1. #1
    Dec 2004
    Long Island New York
    White's XLT
    25 times

    The Mohawk Valley Hoard (fantastic find)

    This is an older story but a great one. I'm sure some of you have read this but it's a first for me.


    Marilyn Capawan

    Keshequa Coins

    Keshequa Coins announces the recently discovered Mohawk Valley Hoard of Bust Quarters and Halves.

    The beep of your metal detector means only one thing-you’ve found….SOMETHING. Is it a pile of rusty nails from an abandoned farmhouse? A piece of costume jewelry buried by children of long ago playing “pirate”? Or, could it be genuine buried treasure? When the find turns out to be a group of 6 silver coins, and those turn out to be Bust Half Dollars that are Extremely Fine to Almost Uncirculated, the buried treasure scenario seems a possibility. And, as the saying goes, the possibilities are endless!

    The story begins in the early 1990s, when two inveterate metal detectorists in the vicinity of Albany, New York began hearing stories of ‘buried treasure’ to be found on nearby lands. Not even a trace of treasure, however, had ever been found. To make matters even more challenging, the area containing the ‘treasure’, if it even actually existed, hadn’t been pinpointed. It could be anywhere in the Mohawk Valley around the cities of Schenectady and Albany---anywhere at all. But knowledge of the environs and its history lent credibility to the possibility of something important to be found in its buried past.

    The Mohawk Valley covers territory stretching from Albany, New York westward along the Erie Canal to the Syracuse area. Along its path are Schenectady, Canajoharie, Utica, and Rome. At one time, the valley represented the only westward path between the East Coast and the Great Lakes and points west. It is an area rich with the history of the early settlement of North America by European explorers and immigrants. The Dutch landed on the tip of Manhattan and migrated up the Hudson River to Albany, and began the fur trade with the Native Americans. It was just a matter of time before Manhattan would become the focal point of the New World. With that, the path up the Hudson and westward through the Mohawk Valley would become the major trading and development route well into the 1800s.

    The present day terrain in the valley is a mix of farm fields and land which has been reforested. At the treasure hunters continued to hear the as-yet unsubstantiated tales, they began to plot the locations on topographical maps. Eventually, the search was ‘narrowed’ to about a thousand acres. (note: a square mile is 640 acres) Then the real and tedious work began, the most time consuming being obtaining landowner permission to explore. Once that was secured, the searchers, applying some logic by thinking like a person who would bury treasure, began metal detecting in the wooded areas, especially those characterized by landmarks—paths, stone walls, large trees, etc. They reasoned that a person wouldn’t bury coins in the middle of an empty field, as it would be too difficult to locate the spot in the future. So, they concentrated their search to recognizable spots. Even so, a thousand acres is a lot of territory to cover! Given the area’s history, it wouldn’t be unusual to find the odd Revolutionary War button, a cooking utensil, Civil War bullet or an old well-worn copper coin. And, such discoveries were made. But shortly before Easter 2002, things changed, and changed dramatically.

    When the metal detector sounded this time, the leaves were cleared, and among the loose limestone rocks there appeared a silver coin. At first the gentlemen believed it might be a Spanish Reale. Upon closer examination, they found it was a Bust Half Dollar. Along with it were five additional halves. The hunt was on! Immediately following this find, a few feet away, another cache was found containing four 2 Reales, five Bust Halves and two Bust Quarters. Not bad! Curiously, each coin was hallmarked—exhibiting either a round or straight countermark or small mark as if made by a tiny chisel or punch. Most were marked at about the one o’clock position near the rim, some were marked near the center of the coin. It brings to mind the countermarked E and L bust quarters—except these were not letters, but plain marks. Their placement, however, was consistent.

    A further search in the immediate vicinity yielded an additional 2 coins on that first day of discovery. All coins were silver Bust halves, Bust quarters or 2 Reales.

    The following day things became even more interesting. The metal detector gave its strongest signal yet. Unfortunately, once the ground cover was cleared away, a rusty bicycle chain was revealed. But, in all thoroughness, our treasure hunter rescanned the same spot of ground after removing the chain. Again, the detector signaled. This time, the result was different. Among the loose rocks, under just a couple of inches of soil, were STACKS of Bust Half Dollars. In all, in this one ‘hole’ were 164 Bust Half Dollars and 1 Eight Reale. Because they were stacked, and because they were in well -drained soil among loose rocks, the coins for the most part are nearly as nice as the day they were buried. Most are in grades of VF to choice AU. Again, all were hallmarked.

    The searching continued daily for the next week and a half and each day at least one additional cache was found. Most coins were Bust Halves or 2 Reales. On Easter Sunday 2002, the detector went off once again, heralding the discovery of approximately 100 Bust Quarters in one spot. Looking closely at the land, it could be seen that the quarters had been buried at the base of a large tree, long since fallen and decayed back into the soil. Again, all the coins contained the hallmark, with grades ranging from VG to AU. A similar situation later in the year yielded a group of 50 2 Reales which had been buried at the base of a tree which apparently died, fell over and slid down the hillside. Some of the coins, having been tangled in the roots, were dragged down the hillside with the tree. The remainders were at what was once the tree’s base.

    Overall, there have been approximately 18 different caches totaling about 550 coins—which included about 100 2 Reales and one 8 Reale. The rest were all Bust Quarters and Halves. All but two of the coins were hallmarked. While the size and quality of the coins in this find are unique in themselves, there are a number of other curious and amazing facts: No higher denominations were found. No copper was found. None of the coins was in any type of container—all were stacked among loose rocks. The US coins ranged in date from 1794 (half dollar) to 1838 (bust quarters and halves). Besides the 1794 half, a number of rarities were among the hoard. Included was one 1815/2 half (full luster AU58), condition census bust quarters including one of the finest known 1805 Browning 5s, a 1818 B9 and an XF and AU 1818 B10—perfect reverse—an extremely rare variety. One of the three non-hallmarked coins is an 1817/3 half in AU58. The two Reales range farther back into the 1700s and are generally in AG to Fine. A small group of the reales and halves exhibited, in addition to the hallmarks, recognizable countermarks from the period.

    There has been a great deal of research and educated speculation regarding the well known E and L countermarks on Bust Quarters (some of which were found in the Albany, NY area). We can now add an additional mystery cache—with three different countermarks or hallmarks. The Mohawk Valley was an area of relatively heavy commerce and travel in the early 1800s. Were the coins buried treasure from river pirates? Were they hidden by a local resident who marked them in order to know if the caches had been found and spent? Were they marked to indicate they were genuine? Our search of historical documents from the Mohawk Valley has not yet yielded any clues. Curiously, no Bust Dollars were found. Perhaps there are even more coins in the farm fields, but located away from obvious landmarks! Only time will tell.

    Over 200 coins from this find have been acquired by Keshequa Coins of Nunda, New York. In the interest of preserving and promoting numismatic scholarship, we have made some of these coins available to the John Reich Collector Society for census and documentation purposes. We are also happy to make these coins available for sale to collectors. Keshequa has chosen Numismatic Conservation Service (NCS) to encapsulate the coins as genuine and have them identified with the trademarked ‘Mohawk Valley Hoard’ name. Mike Capawan, owner of Keshequa Coins, stated “the hoard represents a chance for the average collector to own a highly-collectible example of a classic historical coin, one with a ‘story’ (some of which is still a mystery), at an affordable price.” As an added benefit to the collector, encapsulation and identification by Keshequa and NCS of these coins as Mohawk Valley Hoardtm pieces will prevent the very limited number of hoard coins from being imitated, protecting the integrity of the collector’s investment. Keshequa Coins proudly displays these intriguing pieces of American history at coin shows nationwide. Our show schedule, and photos of some of the coins, can be viewed at Interested parties may obtain a price list by writing to Keshequa Coins at P. O. Box 253, Nunda, NY 14517 or emailing Keshequa at

    Chestdiesel likes this.

  2. #2
    Sep 2006
    133 times
    Banner Finds (1)

    Re: The Mohawk Valley Hoard (fantastic find)

    Awesome read! Thanks for pposting... I used to live in Rome NY - right in the middle of all that.



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