For as long as money has existed, so have hoards and accumulations of currency. To this day archaeologists continue to discover massive hoards of coins buried in the ground for centuries, if not millennia. Within the realm of American numismatics, there are several notable hoards assembled by banks, government entities and wealthy individuals. These hoards often have fascinating stories and have profoundly impacted the United States coin market.
Within the category of silver dollars, four major hoards are notable: Redfield, GSA, Continental and Binion.
LaVere Redfield was an “under-the-radar” investor who invested in oil, stocks and real estate. After becoming quite wealthy, he decided to covert his fortune into hard money—and specifically silver dollars. Living in Reno, Redfield was able to obtain original mint bags of silver dollars from casinos. He took advantage of this abundant supply and accumulated over 400,000 pieces in the mid-20th century. After his death, the hoard was auctioned off by the IRS for $7.3 million to a California coin dealer. To avoid flooding the market, the coins were slowly dispersed by the buyer and marketed over a period of several years.
The GSA hoard, meanwhile, was held by the federal government and consisted of unreleased bank bags. Under pressure from mining interests, the Carson City Mint produced an excessive amount of silver dollars in the 1880s and 1890s. These coins never hit circulation and remained in government vaults for 80-90 years. Finally, in the 1970s, the silver dollars were liquidated in a series of mail bid auctions. A shocking 3,000,000+ pieces were sold for a total price of over $94 million.
The Continental Bank Hoard was not only massive in terms of size, but it was also one of the highest-quality stashes of silver dollars. The accumulation consisted of a whopping 1.5 million coins, of which many were pristine Gem Uncirculated pieces. The hoard is also notable for containing some wildly beautiful “bag toned” coins, i.e. pieces that developed spectacular color from contact with the sulfur-infused canvas bags.
The Binion Hoard may not be the largest silver dollar accumulation, but it was one of the most fascinating backstories. The hoard was assembled by Ted Binion, son of famous Las Vegas casino magnate Benny Binnion and owner of Binion’s Horseshoe. It is believed that the younger Binion was murdered in an attempt to steal his cache of 100,000+ silver dollars but this has not been proven conclusively. The coins were sold in 2001 and slowly entered the market over the ensuing three years.