A northern California couple who found $10 million in rare coins buried in their backyard may not get to see any of that money—there's evidence the coins were stolen during a turn-of-the-century heist, which would mean they belong to the government.

After their discovery, the couple turned the coins over to a dealer in an effort to keep modern-day prospectors off their property. Experts estimate the coins, with a face value of $27,000, could fetch as much as $10 million today.

But now as evidence mounts that the coins were part of a 1900 haul, it looks like the government may be the ultimate winner.

Many of the coins, which were found in mint condition, were unused and in chronological order.

And according to a newspaper article discovered by coin collector and fishing guide Jack Trout in the Haithi Trust Digital Library, the haul matches the time and amount stolen from the San Francisco Mint in 1900.

Finally, one of the found coins — an 1866 Liberty $20 gold coin without the words "In God We Trust," matches one of the stolen coins:

"This was someone's private coin, created by the mint manager or someone with access to the inner workings of the Old Granite Lady (San Francisco Mint)," Trout said. "It was likely created in revenge for the assassination of Lincoln the previous year (April 14, 1865). I don't believe that coin ever left The Mint until the robbery. For it to show up as part of the treasure find links it directly to that inside job at the turn of the century at the San Francisco Mint."

Update: The U.S. Mint clarified today they would not go after the coins because, "We do not have any information linking the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins to any thefts at any United States Mint facility."

[image via AP]