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Category: Shipwrecks & Treasure

Odyssey Marine Exploration Comments on WikiLeaks Information

“Black Swan” and HMS Sussex projects named in Government Communications

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX) a pioneer in the field of deep ocean exploration, was named in several U.S. State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks and furnished to the media worldwide. Some of the released cables suggest that the State Department offered special assistance in the “Black Swan” case to Spanish officials in exchange for assistance in acquiring a French painting confiscated by the Nazis during World War II and now controlled by Spain.

The cables indicate that the U.S. Government also provided confidential documentation on Odyssey to Spain.

Other State Department cables contradict Spain’s claims and support Odyssey’s previously stated version of events relating to the company’s activities in Spain, including the HMS Sussex project and the boarding of Odyssey’s vessels.

“While we are obviously concerned about these implications regarding the ‘Black Swan’ case, we are attempting to obtain additional information before taking any specific actions. I have personally sent a letter to the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, requesting additional information and a review of the position taken by the U.S. in the ‘Black Swan’ legal case,” stated Greg Stemm, Odyssey CEO. “The possibility that someone in the U.S. Government came up with this perfidious offer to sacrifice Odyssey, its thousands of shareholders, and the many jobs created by the company in exchange for the return of one painting to one individual is hard to believe. The WikiLeaks cables clearly show that we have worked cooperatively and transparently with both Spain and the State Department for many years, in spite of claims to the contrary. That fact makes the revelations all the more disappointing. The cables also make us wonder what other agreements may have taken place between U.S. Government officials and Spain regarding the amicus brief filed in support of Spain’s position in the ‘Black Swan’ case.”

“We’ve wondered why the United States changed its long standing position on sovereign immunity, which prior to this case was consistent with U.S. law, international law and U.S. naval regulations that in order for a foreign country’s ships and cargo to be immune from the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts they must be engaged in military, non-commercial activities,” stated Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel. “These released cables do call into question the motivation behind the amicus brief filed by the Executive Branch supporting Spain in the ‘Black Swan’ case.”

Additional cables released support Odyssey’s statements that, contrary to allegations of certain Spanish officials, the company always cooperated with the Spanish Government and that permits from the Spanish government were granted for work on the HMS Sussex project. The cables also demonstrate the obstructionist activities carried out by certain Spanish officials who had personal reasons for trying to prevent Odyssey from working on the Sussex. These obstructions took place even though Odyssey has an exclusive contract for the archaeological excavation of this UK sovereign immune warship (which was on a strictly military mission when it sank in 1694 off the coast of Gibraltar). Odyssey filed an affidavit in 2007 with a chronology of Odyssey’s interactions with the Spanish Government since 1998. It can be accessed at http://shipwreck.net/pdf/ExhibitE.pdf. The document contains entries that are corroborated by information in the State Department cables, which directly contradict claims by some Spanish officials and the Spanish media. (more…)

Wikileaks Reveals State Dept Deal with Spain In Black Swan Treasure Lawsuit

For years, Odyssey Marine has been in litigation with the Spanish government over a 17 tons of gold and silver coins that Odyssey discovered from “The Black Swan”.

The 19th-century shipwreck at the heart of the dispute with Odyssey Marine Exploration is the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes — a Spanish warship sunk by the British navy southwest of Portugal in 1804 with more than 200 people on board.

The Legal Proceedings:

Odyssey announced in May 2007 it had discovered the wreck in the Atlantic and raised 500,000 silver coins and other artifacts worth an estimated US$500 million (€324 million). The coins and artifacts were brought into the United States with a valid export license and imported legally pursuant to U.S. law. Odyssey brought the artifacts under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court by filing an Admiralty arrest action. This procedure allows any legitimate claimant with an interest in the property to make a claim.

Spain went to the U.S. federal court claiming ownership of the treasure and the case is currently set for Oral Arguments tentatively scheduled to take place during the week of February 28, 2011 at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Additional appeals have been filed by groups who have presented documentation indicating that if Spain is correct, and the recovered cargo originated from the Mercedes, they are descendants of the owners of Mercedes’ cargo and have legitimate property rights. Those claimants have recognized Odyssey’s archaeological recovery efforts and have acknowledged Odyssey’s right to a salvage award. (more…)

Sea Search Armada Seeks Rights to 1708 Shipwreck and Treasure Coins Worth $17 Billion

Sea Search Armada, a US-based salvage company, claims the Republic of Colombia owes it $4 billion to $17 billion for breaching a contract granting it the right to salvage the galleon San Jose, sunk by the British Navy on June 8, 1708.

The Spanish galleon San Jose was trying to outrun a fleet of British warships off Colombia on June 8, 1708, when a mysterious explosion sent it to the bottom of the sea with gold, silver and emeralds owned by private Peruvian and European merchants, and lies about 700 feet below the water’s surface, a few miles from the historic Caribbean port of Cartagena, on the edge of the Continental Shelf.

Jack Harbeston, managing director of the Cayman Islands-registered commercial salvage company Sea Search Armada, who has taken on seven Colombian administrations during two decades in a legal fight to claim half the sunken hulk’s riches.

“If I had known it was going to take this long, I wouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place,” said Harbeston, 75, who lives in Bellevue, Wash.

The 41-page federal lawsuit outlines a long, tortuous jpurney through the Colombian courts after the Glocca Morra Co. identified six shipwreck locations, between 1980 and 1985, operating with permission of Colombia’s Direccion General Maritima.

Harbeston claims he and a group of 100 U.S. investors – among them the late actor Michael Landon and the late convicted Nixon White House adviser John Ehrlichman – invested more than $12 million since a deal was signed with Colombia in 1979 giving Sea Search exclusive rights to search for the San Jose and 50 percent of whatever they find.

Colombia tried to weasel out of the deal after Sea Search recovered materials from the ship, proving it was down there. Colombia “delayed signing the written agreement it had drafted, and eventually refused to sign the offer it had made to SSA,” the complaint states. But nonetheless Colombia refused to let it salvage the shipwreck.

All that changed in 1984, when then-Colombian President Belisario Betancur signed a decree reducing Sea Search’s share from 50 percent to a 5 percent “finder’s fee.” (more…)

Is It Time to Buy an S.S. Central America Double Eagle Gold Coin ?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

For many years, it’s been no secret that I haven’t been a big fan of the 1857-S double eagles that trace their origin from the famous S.S. Central America shipwreck. I’ve written that price levels of these coins haven’t made sense to me and I’ve have had problems with their appearance. More than a decade after they were first released onto the market, has my opinion changed?

I believe that this is (finally) a sensible time to purchase an S.S.C.A double eagle. But there are some important parameters for the collector to follow when considering a purchase. Some of these are as follows:

1. Be Selective. There are over 5,000 1857-S double eagles from this shipwreck and they range in grade from Extremely Fine to Mint State-67. With this wide variety of grades, there are a tremendous number of coins to choose from. At any given major auction, there are typically three to five available and it isn’t terribly hard to find them in specialist dealer’s inventories. I have noticed a huge variation in quality for coins in the same grade. As an example, I’ve seen some in MS63 holders that I’ve loved and I’ve seen some in MS63 holders that I thought were horrible. Spend 10-20% more and buy a coin that is high end and attractive. In some instances, you will be able to buy nice, high end examples for little or no premium.

2. Find the Sweet Spot. In my opinion, the “right” grade range for one of these 1857-S double eagles is MS63 to MS64. There is not much of a premium for these two grades over AU and lower Mint State grades and when you buy a coin that grades MS63 to MS64 you are getting good value. In the current market, AU58 examples can bring as much as $3,500-4,000. An MS63 is worth around $7,000-8,000 while an MS64 is worth $8,000-9,000. It seems to me that an MS63 at around 2x the price of an AU58 is good value. And it also seems to me that an MS64 at around $1,000 more than an MS63 is good value as well.

3. Stick With Coins in Original Holders. It is important to focus on 1857-S double eagles that are in their original gold foil PCGS holders. And having the original box and other packaging is an added benefit. Avoid coins that are not in these holders and stay clear of NGC graded S.S. Central America double eagles. They may be nice coins but they have been cracked from their original holders and probably upgraded.

4. Avoid Coins That Have “Turned” in the Holder: All of the coins in this treasure were conserved after they salvaged. The conservation process has been well-documented and, in some cases, the work was outstanding. But there are other coins that have “turned” in the holder. These can be identified either by very hazy surfaces or unnatural splotchy golden color. Avoid these coins and look for pieces that are bright, lustrous and evenly toned. At this point in time, coins that haven’t turned are probably not going to.

5. Disregard The Die Varieties. All 1857-S double eagles from the shipwreck are attributed to a distinct die variety. There are over 20 varieties known. Some are probably rare but it is even rarer to find a collector who cares. I’d suggest not paying a premium for these.

6. If You Are Buying a PL or DMPL Example, Carefully Study the Market. A very small number of 1857-S double eagles were designated as either Prooflike (PL) or Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) by PCGS. These are some of the most visually arresting coins from the shipwreck. I have seen a few pieces in the last few years bring extremely high premiums. These are no doubt very scarce and very flashy coins but I question the premium that they are currently bringing. If you do decide to purchase such a coin, carefully check auction prices for comparable examples and make certain that the price you are paying is in line with the last auction trade. (more…)

Sedwick Auction To Feature Shipwreck Treasure, Gold Cobs and World Coins

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC announces the release of their Treasure and World Coin Auction #8, scheduled for October 21-23, 2010, comprising 2789 lots, by far their largest sale to date. For the first time Sedwick has incorporated “World Coins” into the title, as the auction features almost 1000 lots of general world coins.
As usual the auction will start with Gold Cobs, more than 50 of them this time (mostly from shipwrecks), including several of the finest known 1715-Fleet specimens: a full-date and exceptionally struck Mexican 8 escudos 1714 and 4 escudos 1715; a near-perfect Lima 2 escudos and probably the finest known Lima cob 1 escudo, both dated 1710 and encapsulated PCGS, the latter MS-64. Also there are no less than nine Fleet “bogeys” (Bogotá 2 escudos) in this sale.

The next section, World Gold Coins, contains over 300 lots, most of them Spanish Colonial “busts,” including: the finest known Mexican 1 escudo 1733/2, recovered by Marty Meylach from the 1733 Fleet and the inspiration for his book Diving to a Flash of Gold; a unique Santiago, Chile, 1 escudo, 1755/4, from the famous Eliasberg collection; and well over 100 Spanish colonial bust 8 escudos by date, most of them starting below melt value.

The Ingots section features a collection of large, natural gold nuggets, as well as several important 16th-century ingots (including “tumbaga”) and a unique silver “piña” ingot from the Atocha (1622).

“This is not just a treasure auction–it is also a world coin auction, our first big offering of gold and silver coins from countries all over the world.
Daniel Frank Sedwick

In Shipwreck Silver Coins bidders will find hundreds of Atocha (1622) silver coins, both rarities and wholesale lots, in addition to coins from dozens of shipwrecks around the world assembled by two different collectors.

The Silver Cobs sections for Mexico, Lima and Potosí contain no less than four Royals (round presentation specimens) in various denominations. The Lima listings are dominated by the collection of Robert Mastalir, including a nearly complete date-run of 1R that contains several unlisted overdates. Featured in Other Cobs is a Santo Domingo 4 reales of Charles-Joanna (one of very few ever offered at auction), as well as a large collection of dated cobs from mainland Spanish mints.

Following a short but varied Ancient Coins offering (the first for Sedwick), the expanded World Silver Coins section comprises over 600 lots, with particular emphasis on Colombia (featuring Part II of the Herman Blanton collection) and the British Isles (Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland). There is also a large collection of British Admiral Vernon medals.

“Our most important items are in shipwreck artifacts, however,” says Sedwick’s assistant Agustin “Augi” Garcia, whose new book The “Tumbaga” Saga about some conquest-period silver bars is being released at the same time. “Of particular significance is a unique Tarascan (Mexican) silver rodela (plate) from the “Tumbaga wreck” (ca. 1528), featured in my new book and the important link for figuring out what the silver ingots of that time were made of.”

The Shipwreck Artifacts section also features a large gold-and-emerald pendant and a gold religious medallion and chain from the 1715 Fleet, followed by many lots of small artifacts from the 1733 Fleet, the collection of Marty Meylach himself. Non-shipwreck Artifacts include a large selection of colonial-era weapons, mainly flintlocks and swords, as well as several natural history items like fossils and scrimshaw.

The auction is rounded out by Documents and Media (books and catalogs), ending with a special, full-color, hardbound, limited edition #1 of 50 copy of Augi’s much-anticipated book The “Tumbaga” Saga, which the author will personally inscribe to the winning bidder. (more…)

Gold Shipwreck Bar Valued at $550,00 Stolen from Mel Fisher Museum

One of the most iconic and best-known objects’ at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum was taken. The gold bar came from a 1622 shipwreck that Fisher discovered.

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida holds the richest single collection of 17th-century maritime and shipwreck antiquities in the Western Hemisphere, including treasures and artifacts from the Atocha and Santa Margarita.

It was reported that two thieves entered a museum shortly after closing at 5PM and stole a 74.85-ounce, 11-inch (28-centimeter) gold bar which was inside a glass display case with a small opening where visitors could stick a hand inside and lift the bar to examine it.

Photo Credit: Miami Herald/Florida Keys News Bureau

Police and the FBI are working to identify the suspects who took the gold bar which had been on display for more than 20 years. Surveillance captures caught the faces of these two men, believed to be the suspects who walked off with the gold bar.

According to Alyson Crean, Key West Police spokeswoman, one suspect is described as a white male, about six feet tall with dark hair and a medium build. The second suspect is about five feet, six inches tall.

Anyone with information about these men should contact the Key West Police Department at (305) 809-1111.

The Gold bar has an estimated value of $550,000 and the Museums insurance company is offering a $10 thousand reward.

“Everybody who comes to the museum is encouraged to lift the gold bar and to have a firsthand experience with history,” said Melissa Kendrick, the museum’s executive director. “This is one of the most iconic and best-known objects in the museum.”

“The security systems worked because we knew the bar was stolen within 10 minutes, and we have usable video and photos for law enforcement,” Kendrick said. “The museum made a decision to designate this as a handling object, allowing people to touch the artifact, and this was part of the risk involved in granting public access.”

Odyssey Marine Exploration Challenges Claims by Spain in Its “Black Swan” Appellate Reply

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. today filed its Reply to Spain’s Response in the “Black Swan” case, currently pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia. This is expected to be the last round of written pleadings at the appellate court level. Odyssey’s filing is available for review at http://www.shipwreck.net/blackswanlegal.php

Odyssey is appealing the district court’s dismissal of the case based on the court’s finding of lack of federal jurisdiction. Odyssey’s Reply presents the following documented facts that debunk the misrepresentations made by Spain that contributed to the clear error in the district court’s earlier ruling and that have been repeated in Spain’s appellate Response:

  • there was no vessel and there were no human remains located at the “Black Swan” site
  • Odyssey acted legally and appropriately in the recovery of the “Black Swan” artifacts
  • evidence, including accounts from Spain’s “experts” and Spain’s own contemporaneous diplomatic communications, prove that the Mercedes (the vessel Spain associates with the site) was on a commercial mission on her final voyage — a fact that legally voids Spain’s claim of immunity under settled international law and conventions
  • a distinction between cargo and vessel is allowed and even required by settled admiralty law; and — according to the manifest of the Mercedes, the vast majority of cargo on board did not even belong to Spain — even Spain concedes the cargo was “articles of Spanish citizens.”

“The emotional and inflammatory language used in Spain’s appellate response serves to distract from the truth and the relevant legal issues. The story Spain tells mirrors the one it told at the district level, where the court made clearly erroneous factual findings,” said Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel.

“Spain’s filing has painted a negative portrait of Odyssey, but the company has always acted in full compliance with the letter and spirit of the law. We brought the artifacts to the U.S. courts for proper adjudication of claims, but we didn’t even receive a hearing on the jurisdictional facts. If the court did not have jurisdiction, it would have no legal authority to order transfer of the property to Spain, who did not have possession of the coins. (more…)

Prooflike 1857-S Double Eagle Gold Coins from the Shipwreck of the S. S. Central America

by Greg Reynolds

In 1987, there was the greatest discovery of a shipwreck relating to the history of the United States. Yes, other shipwrecks may be especially important to the history of Spain and Latin America. The loss of the S.S. Central America in Sept. 1857, however, had an impact on the history of the United States. Although a recession had already started in 1856, and a major insurance company failed in August 1857, the loss of this ship caused upheaval in financial markets and exacerbated the “Panic of 1857.”

The Library of Congress website reveals that the S. S. Central America “had aboard 581 persons, many carrying great personal wealth, and more than $1 million in commercial gold. [This ship] also bore a secret shipment of 15 tons of federal gold, valued at $20 per ounce, intended for the Eastern banks”. In this context, the Library of Congress website cites several pertinent, recognized 19th century books and other contemporary sources. “As banking institutions of the day dealt in specie (gold and silver coins instead of paper money) the loss of some thirty thousand pounds of gold reverberated through the financial community.” In October, many banks suffered terribly or failed altogether. There were ‘runs’ on many banks by depositors.

The crisis reached its worse point on Oct. 14, about a month after the sinking of the S. S. Central America, which was “Suspension Day, when banking was suspended in New York and throughout New England [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/aug24.html.” The U.S. economy did not fully recover for years.

In the wreckage of the S. S. Central America, there were thousands of 1857-S Double Eagles ($20 gold coins), which were very scarce before the salvaging of the S.S. Central America. Of all the Double Eagles found in the wreckage, however, only fifty were designated as being Prooflike, and only seven as Deep Mirror Prooflike, by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). In late 1999 and/or early 2000, the PCGS certified and graded most of the coins found in this shipwreck. As far as I know, these fifty-seven PCGS certified 1857-S Double Eagles and one NGC certified 1858-S Double Eagle coins are the only reliably certified, Prooflike gold coins from the early years of the San Francisco Mint, which formally began striking coins in 1854.

I. The Rarity of Type One Prooflike Double Eagles

The 1857-S Double Eagles that the PCGS has designated as Prooflike are unusual in that it is generally the policy of the Professional Coin Grading Service to not designate gold coins as being ‘Prooflike.’ In a Dec. 2000 Christie’s auction, it is stated that a PCGS certified ‘MS-65 PL’ 1857-S is “Tied with two others for finest of 50 PL examples from the S.S. Central America treasure certified by PCGS.” According to the Christie’s cataloguer, who is an expert regarding the histories of coins found on shipwrecks, nineteen 1857-S Double Eagles are (or then were) PCGS certified as ‘MS-64 PL.’

Sources indicate just seven of the S. S. Central America 1857-S Double Eagles were designated as Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) by the PCGS. The NGC has not designated any 1857-S Double Eagles as PL or DMPL. Before the finding of the wreck of the S. S. Central America, it is likely that no Prooflike 1957-S Double Eagles were known to exist. Furthermore, probably all (or almost all) of these certified Prooflike 1857-S Double Eagles are in PCGS holders with their respective original gold foil inserts (labels) that were specially designed for coins found in the wreck of the S.S. Central America. Therefore, it seems that there exist fifty-seven Prooflike (PL) or Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) 1857-S Double Eagles. Only a handful of these have been publicly sold since the initial offerings in 2000 when coins from the S.S. Central America appeared in coin markets. (more…)

SS Central America Shipwreck “Ship of Gold” Exhibit Comes to ANA World’s Fair of Money in Boston

Exhibit Includes Treasures from 1857 SS Central America Shipwreck

The incredible “Ship of Gold” exhibit, showcasing California Gold Rush-era sunken treasure recovered from the 1857 shipwreck of the SS Central America, will make port in Boston at the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money, August 10-14 at the Hynes Convention Center. The exhibit is courtesy of Monaco Rare Coins of Newport Beach, Calif.

The SS Central America was recovered in 1988 from nearly 8,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The ship sank in a hurricane in September 1857 while carrying California gold from Panama to New York City.

“There will be examples of historic assayers’ ingots as well as San Francisco Mint and California territorial gold coins with a combined value of over $10 million,” said Adam Crum, vice president of Monaco. “One of the highlights is a huge Kellogg & Humbert ingot. Weighing just over 55 troy pounds, it is the largest surviving gold ingot of the California Gold Rush.”

The exhibit also includes one of the 13 recovered octagonal $50 gold pieces produced by the United States Assay Office of San Francisco, and the remains of a wooden cargo box that still contains approximately 110 Double Eagles as they were found on the ocean floor. Many appear to be 1857-S $20 gold pieces, apparently freshly struck at the San Francisco Mint when they were placed in the container for shipping.

Visitors will see the front pages of three 1857 newspapers that published stories about the shipwreck, the ordeal of survivors and the devastating economic effects created by the loss of the gold. Robert Evans, the chief scientist on the 1980s mission by the Columbus-America Discovery Group that located and recovered the magnificent sunken treasure, will be in Boston to meet visitors and discuss the SS Central America, her cargo, crew and passengers.

The Ship of Gold display was first publicly presented in February 2000. Over the years it has been seen by more than one million people in exhibitions at several venues and cities across the country.

[iframe http://www.coinlink.com/Video/032310_ship.html 544px 395px]

[Adam Crum of Monaco Rare Coins Gives a  Tour of the Exhibit – Originally Filmed on Long Beach
Video Courtesy of CoinTelevision.com]

The ANA World’s Fair of Money is the nation’s premiere money show. Show hours are 1-5:30 p.m. August 10, and 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. August 11-14. Dealer set-up is from 8 a.m.-
1 p.m. Tuesday, August 10. Admission is $6 for adults, and free for ANA members and children 12 and under. For more information on all of the show highlights, call 719-482-9857 or visit www.worldsfairofmoney.com.

First Gold Coin Struck in the Name of an English King to be Sold by Spink

[CoinLink News] The UK auction firm of Spink has announced the upcoming sale of an Anglo-Saxon gold Shilling of King Eadbald of Kent dating from c.620-635. This is the first gold coin struck in the name of an English King and a rare and important piece of English history. Found near Deal Kent in 2010, this coin will be sold at auction on June 24th and is expected to fetch upwards of £8,000. (Editor: Seems very Inexpensive)

This type was long known to be amongst the earliest of Anglo-Saxon gold coins with a single example present in the important Crondall hoard found in Hampshire in 1828 and dating from c.670. The conclusive attribution of these coins to king Eadbald of Kent, reigned 616-640, though was only made in 1998. This followed the emergence of new finds which enabled the obverse inscription to be confirmed as avdvarld reges, and translated as ‘of King Audvarld’.

The name ‘auduarldus’ appears in Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica completed in 731 in which he wrote about king Eadbald of Kent. Given this and the presence of one of these coins in the Crondall hoard, the attribution to Eadbald is now accepted

While the Kentish Shilling or Thrymsa seems to have sought to match the Merovingian Tremissis, the design of this coin is peculiarly Anglo-Saxon using neither motifs found on Merovingian coins nor seeking to copy Roman types. In common with some other coins (e.g. the so called ‘Witmen’ and ‘Londiniv/Londeniv’ types), this coin has an inscription on the reverse. This can be clearly read on a example in the Ashmolean Museum as containing the word londenv indicating London as the mint or die source for these coins all of which share the same obverse die.

The real significance of these coins though is in the obverse inscription naming the historical figure of king Eadbald. This is exceptional for a coin of this period and is only certainly found again at the end of the seventh century with the Sceattas of Aldfrith of Northumbria (685-705). As such the Eadbald Thrymsa is the earliest coin issued in the name of an English king.

Eadbald succeded Aethelberht as king of Kent in 616. Aethelberht is principally remembered for having accepted St. Augustine into his kingdom and his subsequent conversion to Roman Christianity. It seems, according to Bede, that after his accession Eadbald fell foul of the young Church, rejecting Christianity, ejecting its Bishops and incurring the wrath of the Church committing ‘such fornication as the Apostle Paul mentioned as being unheard of even among the heathen, in that he took his father’s (second) wife as his own.’

Whatever Eadbald did, this situation did not last for he repented and was duly baptized, rejecting his wife and thereafter favouring the Church within his kingdom. (more…)

Amicus Briefs Support Odyssey Marine’s Legal Position in Black Swan Treasure Coins Appeal

[ CoinLink News ]Several additional appellate briefs and amicus briefs have been filed with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Odyssey Marine Exploration’s “Black Swan” case. The filings support Odyssey’s argument that the trial court erred in dismissing the case because the recovered coins did not belong to Spain and therefore do not qualify for sovereign immunity, Spain did not have possession of the coins, and sovereign immunity only applies to vessels exclusively on a non-commercial mission.

Among the briefs were two separate filings by groups of descendants whose ancestors owned the cargo shipped aboard the Mercedes. The trial court actually missed the basis of their claims calling them “descendants of those aboard the Mercedes.” The trial court, the descendants argue, also missed the fact that no vessel was found at the site and that in any event, property rights to cargo are distinct from the rights to the vessel.

An amicus brief (a filing by a “friend of the court” not a party to the case) was also filed by a congressional delegation led by Congressman Gus Bilirakis. That filing clarifies relevant legislation in the case and asserts that if the Mercedes was on a commercial mission at the time of its demise, as all evidence proves, that vessel should indeed be subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts.

“We are very pleased that Congressman Bilirakis and the other members of Congress who submitted this brief understand the dangerous implications of the district court’s decision here,” said Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey’s Vice President and General Counsel. “If any foreign vessel is allowed to escape the jurisdiction of our courts regardless of its mission or the cargo it carries, there could be grave environmental consequences and national security ramifications. It is very clear that only warships on strictly non-commercial missions are meant to enjoy sovereign immunity, and we feel confident that the Eleventh Circuit will confirm that.”

CNN Video of Black Swan ClaimsAdditional signatories to the brief include: Congressman Bill Young, ranking Republican Member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Congressman Connie Mack, Congressman Vern Buchannan, Congressman Thomas J. Rooney, and Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.

The Historical Shipwreck Salvage Political Action Committee, joined by the Institute of Marine Archaeological Conservation and Fathom Exploration, Inc., also submitted an amicus brief arguing that if the trial court’s decision stands it could mean the end of archaeologically sound shipwreck recovery and conservation because salvors would have no incentive to properly document their finds or give notice to parties with potential interest. They echo the praise of Odyssey submitted by some of the descendant claimants as, “dedicated professionals who set the highest standards for maritime salvage and archaeology of deep water wrecks…Without the continuing courageous efforts of Odyssey there would be no benefit to the claimants and perhaps of greater importance no benefit to the public.”

Peru has also filed an appeal of the trial court’s ruling, as has a Florida doctor claiming to have historical contractual rights to any property in Florida owned by Spain. All appellants argue that because the court did not conduct a hearing on any of the issues, there was a violation of due process. (more…)

Odyssey Marine Exploration Files Appellate Brief in “Black Swan” Case

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX) has filed its Appellate Brief in the “Black Swan” case with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

In the brief, Odyssey demonstrates that the district court erroneously dismissed the case by using flawed legal analysis and by failing to acknowledge or understand several major aspects of the case, including the issue of sovereign immunity.

Odyssey’s brief cites the recent favorable ruling by the Eleventh Circuit for the salvor in the Aqua Log (Aqua Log, Inc. vs. State of Georgia, 594 F.3d 1330, 11th Cir. 2010) case. This ruling was made shortly after the district court ruled in the “Black Swan” case and is a beneficial clarification of sovereign immunity in support of Odyssey’s position. In the Aqua Log case, the Court ruled that the sovereign must be in possession of the salvaged items in order to claim immunity from the courts in an admiralty case.

“The precedent set in the Aqua Log case is very relevant to the ‘Black Swan’ case and Spain’s sovereign immunity claim. The Eleventh Circuit found, as we had argued to the district court in our case, that a sovereign could not claim to be immune from the jurisdiction of the court when it did not have possession of the salvaged goods. It’s clear that Spain never owned the majority of the cargo here and did not have possession of them either,” said Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel. “The district court apparently dismissed the fact that there was no vessel present at the “Black Swan” site. The concretions of coins found by Odyssey were scattered over an area bigger than six football fields, with no coherent ship’s hull or structure. Even if that cargo did come from the Mercedes, it is well documented that the majority of the Mercedes’ cargo was owned by private merchants who paid for its transport and the Mercedes was carrying paying passengers. Under well-established U.S. and international law, vessels on such commercial voyages do not have sovereign immunity.”

The opening brief also points out several erroneous factual findings and legal conclusions made by the district court including the following:

  • The district court did not conduct an evidentiary hearing on the disputed issues of fact, unquestioningly accepting testimony presented by Spain. This was a violation of due process for all of the claimants as well as Odyssey.
  • The district court erred in failing to recognize that the Defendant in the case (an in rem proceeding) was NOT Spain or a vessel owned by Spain. The actual Defendant in the case was the group of coins and artifacts (the res in this case) discovered and recovered by Odyssey.
  • (more…)

Sedwick Treasure Auction #7 Brings In $1.37 Million

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC announced this week that their seventh Treasure Auction on April 7-9 realized $1.37 million (including buyer’s fees, same for all prices quoted here) and over 94% of the 2160 lots sold, well exceeding the pre-auction estimate.

“Our latest auction proves that world coins and treasure items are still strong,” said Daniel Sedwick, company principal and founder, “and that we achieve consistent results. This is our second auction in a row that reached over $1 million with a 94% sell-through rate, which is remarkable and a testament to the hard work we put in, both to get great consignments and to do what it takes to sell them all.”

Sedwick also pointed out that many sections like shipwreck coins were complete sell outs and brought record prices, particularly the Karl Goodpaster estate of 1715 Fleet silver coins. Gold cobs, as always, fetched strong prices, with the two featured Peruvian specimens from the Frank Sedwick estate realizing $19,550 (8 escudos 1712) and $18,400 (4 escudos 1711, finest known). Perhaps the most interesting coin in the sale was a Mexican cob 1 escudo from the 1715 Fleet that was flown to the moon aboard Apollo 14, and that coin brought $8,625. Most of the money, however, was in gold and silver ingots, including the highest priced lot in the whole auction, a naturally coral-encrusted “clump” of two complete gold bars from a mid-1500s Spanish wreck that brought $112,125. Many museum-quality artifacts sold for up to 5 times the high estimates.

Sedwick’s assistant Augi Garcia pointed to several unique factors for the success of their auction, including video lot viewing and illustration of all lots, but particularly the concept of live bidding via the Internet:

“People love bidding online, at their computer, in the comfort of their own home or office, even from their iPhone. At times we had more people actively bidding online than you see on the floor of a typical world-coins auction at a major coin show.”

A very strong online thrust via the Sedwick website as well as the bidding platform iCollector attracted over 25% new bidders from around the world. Also of benefit was lot viewing at the Baltimore show in March.

Consignments pledged or already received for Sedwick’s Treasure Auction #8 in October (consignment deadline July 31) indicate that it will be another big event, with still more improvements and innovations in store.

“Our goal is constant improvement through technological innovation, while retaining good old-fashioned personal service,” says Sedwick, “and that formula is hard to beat.” (more…)

Adam Crum and the Ship of Gold Exhibit from the Long Beach Coin Expo – Video News

A decade after its first appearance, the precedent-setting “Ship of Gold” display showcasing California Gold Rush-era sunken treasure recovered from the 1857 shipwreck of the SS Central America was again docked in Long Beach, California.

[iframe http://www.coinlink.com/Video/032310_ship.html 544px 395px]

The $10 million exhibit was publicly displayed during the Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo in February, marking its 10th anniversary.

“The ‘Ship of Gold’ exhibit is out of dry dock” said Ronald J. Gillio, Expo General Chairman. “The eye-opening display on the convention center floor is housed in a specially-constructed 40-foot long representation of the famous ship’s hull. This will be the first public appearance of the ‘Ship of Gold’ exhibit anywhere in the country in six years.”

The exhibit is courtesy of Monaco Rare Coins of Newport Beach and involved months of work to coordinate the display with collectors who privately own and now have generously loaned many of the items for the exhibit, according to Adam Crum, Monaco Vice President.
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Daniel Frank Sedwick Treasure and World Coin Auction #7

In three sessions, Wednesday-Friday, April 7-9, 2010

As usual our latest Treasure Auction is full of surprises, but this time we feel it is also very well balanced across many fields, with more general world coins than ever before. Here are some highlights:

In great deference to the Sedwick patriarch, for the first time ever we are offering selections from the Frank Sedwick study collection of 1715-Fleet gold cobs, including plate coins from past editions of the Practical Book of Cobs and other pieces never seen or offered for sale, coins that the pioneering “Dr. Cobs” kept as the best examples among thousands that passed through his hands.

The unique opportunity to own a “Frank Sedwick” specimen will start in this auction with just two 1715-Fleet masterpieces: The finest-known Lima 4 escudos 1711 and one of the best Lima 8 escudos 1712 ever offered.

In the same category of quality as Frank Sedwick’s 1715-Fleet gold cobs is a choice Cuzco cob 2 escudos 1698, a plate coin in Marty Meylach’s classic book Diving to a Flash of Gold.

But perhaps most intriguing in the gold cobs this time is a 1715-Fleet Mexican 1 escudo that was flown aboard Apollo 14 in 1971, the only one of its kind. Before this specially engraved coin came to us, we had no idea that the Apollo astronauts included genuine shipwreck treasure in their “flown” souvenirs on their trips to the moon, but apparently the link between NASA and the Real Eight Co. was more than just geographic. We have come to understand that medallions made of 1715-Fleet silver flown to the moon are very hot with space collectors, who will no doubt go crazy for this genuine coin as well, but perhaps the treasure collectors will win out in the end.

Highlights in shipwreck silver coins include large offerings of lion daalders from the Campen (1627), Potosí cobs from the Consolación (1681) and the Boticaria site of the 1681 Fleet off Panama (first-ever offering, also with some artifacts, with updated history), and hundreds of choice (and some interestingly shaped) 1715-Fleet Mexican cobs from the estate of Karl H. Goodpaster (Real Eight Co. conservator), as well as hundreds of Mexican cobs from the Rooswijk (1739). The Goodpaster collection in particular will be fun to watch, as nothing is hotter today than Fleet silver cobs! (more…)

Odyssey Marine Exploration 2009 Financial Results and Status on it’s Treasure Hunting Projects

Odyssey Marine Exploration (NasdaqCM: OMEX), pioneers in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, today reported full year 2009 financial results.

For the full year 2009, Odyssey reported revenues of $4.3 million, compared to $4.1 million in 2008 while operating expenses decreased $6.4 million from $29.1 million in 2008 to $22.7 million in 2009.

The Company reported a net loss of $18.6 million for the full year 2009, compared to a net loss of $24.8 million in 2008. The net loss per share for the full year 2009 was $0.33, compared to a net loss per share of $0.50 in 2008.

“We are pleased with the results of our 2009 operations, which despite some interesting challenges, saw some key strategic opportunities realized that I believe will have a profound effect on our business going forward. Several significant announcements made in late 2009 and early 2010 represent outstanding new opportunities for Odyssey, including the intention to syndicate multiple shipwreck projects with Robert Fraser & Partners that will mirror the structure of the “Enigma” project already executed. Taking into account expected revenue from multiple sources including these syndicated projects, we believe our current cash position is sufficient to fund operating cash flows through 2010, barring unforeseen circumstances,” said Odyssey CEO Greg Stemm.

“Also in 2009, we acquired a stake in a venture to pursue the exploration of deep-ocean gold and copper deposits. By providing our technical expertise and certain marine assets, we believe this will provide a lucrative future opportunity and is a natural extension to leverage our core competencies in deep-ocean exploration,” stated Stemm.

“In 2010, Odyssey will remain focused on continuing to strengthen our relations with several governments to conduct shipwreck searches with no upfront cost to taxpayers while returning cultural heritage and economic value to the governments. In September 2009, the UK Government awarded Odyssey a salvage award for the two cannon recovered from HMS Victory, while discussions continue to determine future plans for the site. The UK Government also awarded the exclusive salvage contract to Odyssey for the cargo of silver from the SS Gairsoppa,” continued Stemm. “We have a very ambitious operational schedule planned for 2010, with seven separate projects planned, utilizing at least three ships as well as some outstanding new deep ocean assets we have just acquired. We also have some interesting new technology on the drawing board that will extend our capabilities to a depth of 6,000 meters.”
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Gold Ingots from the S.S. Central America Pace Heritage Auction Results in Long Beach

All four gold ingots from the S.S.Central America made the Top 10 list in the auction results from Heritages Long Beach Signature Sale.

The top performer was the 55.05-Ounce Harris Marchand Gold Ingot. Recovered from the S.S. Central America. CAGB-135, serial number 6526. 55.05 ounces, 875 fineness, stamped value $995.73. Sold For $172,500

From Q. David Bowers, A California Gold Rush History: “Large size ingot. All inscriptions on face with bar horizontally oriented. $ leans sharply left. Reverse finessed or dressed by tapping.”

Though the firm Harris, Marchand & Co. did not last into June 1857, the gold bars stamped that way did, and three dozen bars from the Sacramento office received an unexpected gift of numismatic immortality: they were loaded onto the S.S. Central America, and instead of going to New York to be melted down, they landed at the bottom of the ocean, and over the course of more than a century, they transformed into historic treasures.

Like the majority of known Harris, Marchand & Co. ingots, this example shows irregular punching on the serial number, weight, fineness, and value. The arcing HARRIS MARCHAND & CO imprint and circular MARCHAND / ESSAYEUR stamp, however, are precise and elegant as ever.

The runner-up was the 48.65 Ounce Kellogg & Humbert Gold Ingot. Kellogg & Humbert Assayers, serial number 947, 48.65 oz, 780 fineness, $784.43 face value. Medium to large size, per the classification system by Q. David Bowers in his A California Gold Rush History. Sold for $103,500

Bowers devotes a solid paragraph to the unusual characteristics of this ingot (italics his):

“Inscriptions on face. 48 in weight double punched. Fineness first punched as 87, then corrected to 78 ($784.42), with erroneous under digits still visible. $ sign high, leans right, and touches upper left of 7. Vertically oriented. Reverse stamped with repetition of serial number, but in different font. One of the most amateurishly punched of the many Kellogg & Humbert ingots.”

The top face also shows numerous air bubbles and weakness on the “Kellogg & Humbert Assayers” stamp. Bowers does allow, however, that the S.S. Central America ingots’ individuality is core to their appeal, noting that “[s]uch idiosyncrasies make them fascinating to study.” (more…)

Historic SS Central America “Ship of Gold” Exhibit Returns to Long Beach Expo Coin Show

ship_of_gold_exhibitA decade after its first appearance, the precedent-setting “Ship of Gold” display showcasing California Gold Rush-era sunken treasure recovered from the 1857 shipwreck of the SS Central America again will dock in Long Beach, California.

The $10 million exhibit will be publicly displayed during the Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo in the Long Beach Convention Center, 100 S. Pine Ave., February 4 – 6, 2010.

The three-day show also will feature an exhibit of the all-time finest set of early U.S. half dollars in the PCGS Set RegistrySM.

“The ‘Ship of Gold’ exhibit is coming out of dry dock and returning to its first port of call, the Long Beach Expo,” said Ronald J. Gillio, Expo General Chairman. “The eye-opening display on the convention center floor is housed in a specially-constructed 40-foot long representation of the famous ship’s hull. This will be the first public appearance of the ‘Ship of Gold’ exhibit anywhere in the country in six years.”

ss_central_america_coin_block

The exhibit is courtesy of Monaco Rare Coins of Newport Beach and involved months of work to coordinate the display with collectors who privately own and now have generously loaned many of the items for the exhibit, according to Adam Crum, Monaco Vice President.

“The ‘cargo’ on display will be examples of historic assayers’ ingots as well as San Francisco Mint and California territorial gold coins with a combined value today of over $10 million. One of the highlights is a huge, 662.28 ounce Kellogg & Humbert ingot. Weighing just over 55 troy pounds, it is the fourth largest gold bar recovered from nearly 8,000 feet blow the surface of the Atlantic Ocean where the Central America sank in a hurricane in September 1857 while carrying California gold from Panama to New York City,” said Crum.

There also will be one of the 13 recovered octagonal $50 gold pieces produced by the United States Assay Office of San Francisco, and the remains of a wooden cargo box that still contains approximately 110 Double Eagles as they were found on the ocean floor. Many appear to be 1857-S $20 gold pieces, apparently freshly struck at the San Francisco Mint when they were placed in the container for shipping. (more…)

Sedwick’s Sixth Treasure Coin Auction Realizes Over $1.6 Million

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC held their 6th overall and 2nd fully live internet auction of numismatic and shipwreck treasures on October 15-16, 2009, realizing a record price of over $1.6 million* in 2082 lots. Featured in the sale were coins and artifacts and printed materials from around the world, including the prestigious collections of Mark Bir, Louis Hudson, Herman Blanton and Thomas Sebring.

sedwick_auction6_results“This was by far our best auction, and the feedback from both consignors and bidders has been overwhelmingly positive. We greatly exceeded our goal of $1 million, and over 94% of the lots sold,” said Daniel Sedwick, company principal and founder.
“We were honored to present for sale several great collections of coins and artifacts, including a few significant coins that are rarely offered at auction. This is proof that our relatively new and rapidly growing Treasure Auctions are a competitive specialized option for consignors, with an unparalleled level of personalized service from beginning to end for both bidders and consignors alike.”

Setting the tone for the sale was lot 1, a Mexican cob 8 escudos fully dated 1709, which found a home with a private collector for a record price of $46,000*. Some 70+ gold cobs followed thereafter.

A couple of exceptional Panama cobs also set records: Lot 1176, the finest known 4 reales, sold for an impressive $22,425*, and lot 1178, a choice half real, sold for $19,550*, both to significant private collections.

Aggressive prices were also encountered in the Louis Hudson Collection of Potosi Countermarked Coins, over 70 lots of the rarest examples of a short-lived and controversial period in the colonial coinage of Potosi (1649-51). Also heavily contested were many dated shield-type minors of the early 1600s. A large selection of silver cobs from the Atocha (1622), including several from the famous Research Collection, saw spirited bidding as well. (more…)

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC announces the release of their Treasure Auction #6, October 15-16, 2009

Specialists in world coins and treasure items Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC has released their sixth and largest Treasure Auction, available immediately for viewing on their website, www.sedwickcoins.com. This auction features well over $1 million in coins, ingots, artifacts and books, almost all of it opening at very reasonable levels. Because of the size of the auction this time, Sedwick has split this sale into three sessions, all closing LIVE on www.iCollector.com/sedwick.

sedwick_6“After our first live Internet auction last time, we decided to hold our Treasure Auction #6 in three sessions to provide breaks and avoid bidders having to monitor the auction all day long to bid live on the lots they want,” says Sedwick. “Also there is no more confusion about the buyer’s fee, which is set at 18% for everyone (discounted to 15% for check or cash).”

Starting off Session I (Thursday, October 15, 11:00 am EDT) is a unique Mexican cob 8 escudos (possible) Royal 1709 (estimated at $35,000-$50,000), one of more than 70 gold cobs in this sale, mostly from the 1715 Fleet, including also an extremely rare Lima cob 8 escudos 1702 (estimated at $20,000-$30,000). World gold coins feature a Mexican bust 8 escudos 1733 PCGS AU-58 ($15,000-up) and a Paraguayan cut 4 pesos fuertes (1866-9) ($12,500-up), one of only two known. In the shipwreck silver section you will find a Cartagena cob 8 reales 1621 ($16,000-$25,000), first date of issue and one of three known, plus the Louis Hudson collection of Potosí countermarks 1649-52, as well as selections from the Atocha (1622) Research Collection and a newly formed “Coconut wreck” (ca. 1810) Research Collection.

The four silver-cob sections in Session II (Thursday, October 15, 4:30 pm EDT) feature a La Plata cob 1 real (estimated at $700-$1,000), the first ever offered at auction; a unique Potosí cob 2 reales specially struck on a zoomorphic planchet in the form of a double-headed condor ($25,000-up); the finest-known Panama cob 4 reales (estimated at $5,000-$7,500); and Part I of the extensive collection of late world-coins dealer Mark Bir. The world silver coins section, which is becoming larger and more advanced in Latin American coins with every auction, features several key rarities as well as Part I of the Colombian Republic collection of Herman Blanton.
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Odyssey Reaches Agreement with UK Government on HMS Victory Shipwreck

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX), pursuant to an agreement reached with the UK Government, has filed a motion to dismiss and vacate the warrant for the arrest which was filed in the U.S. District Court on Admiral Balchin’s HMS Victory, a 100 gun ship of the line lost in 1744 in the English Channel (case number 8:08-cv-1045).

hms_victory_paintingThe UK Government has agreed to pay Odyssey a salvage award of 80% as compensation for the artifacts which have been recovered from the site and submitted to the UK Receiver of Wreck. A valuation of approximately $200,000 has been agreed for the two cannon recovered from the site, providing for a salvage award of approximately $160,000. The company will also be participating in the ongoing process of consultation to determine the approaches that should be adopted towards the wreck.

In 2008, in cooperation with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), Odyssey conducted an extensive archaeological pre-disturbance survey and recovered a 42 pdr and 12 pdr bronze cannon from the site. At the direction of the MOD, Odyssey presented the cannon to the UK Receiver of Wreck, and has been actively involved in their conservation and study.

“We look forward to cooperating with the MOD and other stakeholders in the archaeological management and preservation of Admiral Balchin’s HMS Victory,” commented Odyssey CEO, Greg Stemm from London, where he has spent the week meeting with UK officials. “I am pleased to announce that we have offered to forego part of our salvage award as a contribution of $75,000 to provide support to the National Museum of the Royal Navy to assist in realizing the historical, educational and cultural opportunities that the discovery of this important shipwreck offers to the public.”

“We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to return two cannon from Balchin’s Victory to the citizens of the United Kingdom, but these are just a small portion of the irreplaceable cultural artifacts that remain at the site,” Stemm continued. “We look forward to working with the UK Government and the archaeological community to help develop a strategy to protect this very significant cultural and naval heritage asset.”

“As the shipwreck has been positively identified as HMS Victory, a UK Royal Naval Vessel, we recognize the UK Government’s position is that the vessel has not been abandoned and therefore the shipwrecked vessel, its appurtenances and necessaries, and the personal effects of the officers and crew, are the property of Her Majesty’s Government,” commented Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel. “As such, in good faith, we have agreed to conduct any further activities relating to the shipwreck under the jurisdiction of applicable UK laws.”
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German treasure hunters find €7 million in Pirate Coins and artifacts

The following appeared in a German publication called the Local

A Dresden real estate investor and his partner have raised €7 million ( @$9.8 Million US) worth of gold, silver and other artifacts from a sunken pirate ship off the coast of Borneo, daily Bild reported Wednesday.

The pirate ship Forbes sank off the coast of Borneo in 1806. Dresden resident Martin Wenzel and his partner Klaus Keppler spent €3 million of their own money over the past two years trawling the tropical waters for loot from the Forbes and other vessels, the newspaper reported.

“Up until now, we’ve searched 35 wrecks, two had valuable cargo. Now the costs for our three salvage ships, 50 man crew, the licences and all that, are covered,” Wenzel told Bild.

The haul from the Forbes turned up 1.5 tonnes of silver coins, gold jewellery, cannons, crystal and Ming porcelain. The newspaper reported that the coins alone are worth at least €7 million.

“At first, everything on the ocean floor looks encrusted and worthless. But when you hold the treasure in your hands, it’s an indescribable rush of adrenaline. You’re witness to times past,” Wenzel told Bild.

Wenzel flies to Indonesia six times a year to keep track of the salvage operations. His partner Keppler is there permanently. Wenzel said his next trip is already booked.

“We’ve found clues in shipping archives about a wreck off of East Timor that had two tonnes of gold on board,” Wenzel said. “But we don’t yet have the salvage license. They are extremely expensive and the political situation there is difficult.”

Stack’s to Sell More S.S. New York Gold Treasure

The discovery of the long-lost S.S. New York and the sale of gold and silver coins from the wreck made headline news last year. Since then, further explorations on the wreck have yielded more coins, including some amazing American gold rarities. These include high-grade Philadelphia and New Orleans coins from the 1830s and 1840s, some of which are among the finest known!

A book detailing the loss and recovery, The Treasure Ship S.S. New York, by Q. David Bowers, tells the exciting story (available from Stack’s for $29.95 postpaid). The sidewheel steamer, 160.5 feet in length, was launched in New York City in 1837, and under the direction of Charles Morgan and others put into the coastwise run from New York City to Charleston. There she remained for but a short time, and was sent to New Orleans. The Republic of Texas, formed in 1836, beckoned immigrants from foreign countries, American citizens, and others to settle the vast territory. In 1845, Texas joined the Union. The S.S. New York was in service from New Orleans to Galveston, the latter being the largest city in Texas at the time.

Departing Galveston on September 5, 1846, with several dozen passengers and crew aboard plus light cargo, the ship headed toward New Orleans. It was foggy and the wind was light, but there was no indication of any problem. Unexpectedly, stiff winds and high seas arose, and within a few hours the ship anchored about 50 miles off the coast, to weather out the storm. This did not happen. A hurricane developed, the ship foundered, and despite heroic efforts of the passengers and crew to save it, the New York went to the bottom of the sea with a loss of 18 lives and an estimated $30,000 to $40,000 in money. (more…)

Spink to Sell Extremely Rare Anglo-Frisian Solidus from 9th Century

UPDATE June 25, 2009: Today at auction Spink sold the Anglo-Frisian Solidus coin from ninth century England for £9,300. The coin was purchased by anonymous bidder in the room.

Spink are pleased to announce the sale of an extremely rare Anglo-Frisian Solidus coin from ninth century England. The coin will be sold at auction in London on the 25th of June 2009. The Solidus is truly rare with only one other coin of this type known.

Anglo-Frisian SolidusEarlier this year the coin was brought in by a lady who discovered it in a field near Salisbury. After dusting the earth from the face of the coin the lady, who wishes to remain anonymous, knew that she had tripped upon something very unusual.

William MacKay, coin specialist for Spink, stated, “It’s always thrilling to see the face of the owner when you share that their coin is incredibly rare and valuable. In this case we know that these coins are highly desirable as so few exist and collectors will pay any price to add such a gem to their collection. It is estimated to fetch £8,000-10,000 at auction in June but such rarities are often times very difficult to price.

Spink sold an example from the same time period in 2004, the Coenwulf penny, which fetched an incredible £230,000 and now has a home in the British Museum.”

Lot Detail from The Spink Catalogue

Found March 2009, near Salisbury

Whilst coinage in Northern Europe and England in the ninth century was predominantly silver there is substantial evidence for a smaller gold coinage. In all around 100 examples of gold coins exist from this period with most from continental find spots, however a small number have been found in England, with two in the name of the English rulers, Coenwulf of Mercia and Archbishop Wigmund of York. Gold coins from this period are all very rare, with examples from England extremely rare. (more…)

Odyssey Will Object to Magistrate’s Recommendation to Dismiss “Black Swan” Case

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX), pioneers in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration has announced plans to file a written objection to the U.S. Federal Court Magistrate’s recommendation that Spain’s Motion to Dismiss the “Black Swan” case be granted and that the property recovered be returned to Spain. The recommendation which was filed June 3, 2009 concludes that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.

Odyssey brought the “Black Swan” case to federal court in the spring of 2007 after discovering a site in the Atlantic Ocean with over 500,000 gold and silver coins. Spain filed a claim in the case asserting that the cargo came from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, a Spanish vessel which exploded in 1804. Despite the absence of a vessel at the site, the District Court Magistrate has indicated that he believes that there is sufficient evidence to confirm that the site is that of the Mercedes and that the vessel and its cargo are subject to sovereign immunity.

“We will object to the Magistrate’s recommendation,” said Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey’s Vice President and General Counsel. “This is clearly a case where there are many relevant issues of fact that have been disputed, including the issue of whether the Mercedes was on a commercial mission and whether the property recovered belonged to Spain. I presume that the claimants in the case who assert ownership rights by virtue of the fact that their ancestors owned a portion of the cargo will join us in objecting.”

“I’m very surprised,” said Odyssey’s CEO, Greg Stemm. “Odyssey has done everything by the book. For the Court to find that enough evidence exists to conclusively identify the site as the Mercedes and that neither Odyssey nor the claimants who owned the property have any legal interest is just wrong. I’m confident that ultimately the judge or the appellate court will see the legal and evidentiary flaws in Spain’s claim, and we’ll be back to argue the merits of the case.” (more…)

Philadelphia Type One Double Eagles

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Type One Double EaglesSince the publication of my book “The Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type 1 Double Eagles” in 2002, this has been one of the strongest and most avidly collected areas in the entire U.S. coin market. I think this is the case for three reasons:

1. Size: New collectors can relate to big, attractive coins and Type One double eagles are exactly the sort of coins that are easy for dealers to sell (and for collectors to buy).

2. Shipwrecks: The discovery of the S.S. Central America and S.S. Republic shipwrecks added a tremendous shot in the arm to this market. Many collectors were first attracted to Type One double eagles by the shipwreck coins but found the series interesting enough that they decided to collect more extensively.

3. Story: There is an incredible amount of history inherent in the Type One series. The 1850-1865 era is pivotal in the story of the United States and this has also attracted many collectors to the Type One series.

I am personally very attracted to the Philadelphia Type One issues. These issues do not get the publicity that the branch mint coins do and, as a result, they remain undervalued. Here is a date-by-date analysis for beginning collectors that, hopefully, will be useful. (more…)

THE £2,000 PENNY

Metal detectorist finds 1200 year old coin in ploughed field

Cynethryth PennyAfter six years of looking, the penny finally dropped for metal detectorist Clive Nobbs.

It was like finding a needle in a haystack, but uncovering the coin in the middle of a 20-acre ploughed field was considerably more rewarding for the 47-year-old amateur archaeologist and historian.

This is no ordinary penny. More than 1200 years old, it is an exceptionally rare silver penny of Queen Cynethryth, valued at around £2,000. Cynethryth was the wife of King Offa of Mercia (AD 757-796).

“This is easily the most important thing I’ve ever found,” said Clive, an Assistant Quality Assurance Manager for an aircraft parts supplier. “It didn’t look like much when I found it. It was about four or five inches down and black with age but it turns out to be incredibly rare.”

The coin will be sold by specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden on June 9. Specialist Tom Eden said: “This is an exciting discovery. All Cynethryth pennies are rare, but this example is very rare because it bears her portrait. Very little is known of Cynethryth herself, but she must have been held in high esteem for coins to have been issued in her name. Much more is known about her husband, King Offa, one of the great Anglo-Saxon rulers, famous for the dyke he built between Mercia and Wales.

“Cynethryth’s coins are the only examples struck in the name of a queen throughout the Dark Ages, both in England and Europe. In fact, no other women appear on English coins until the 12th century, when very rare pennies depicting Matilda were struck during the civil war in the reign of King Stephen. So Cynethryth’s coins are the first to depict an English woman and as such are of significant importance from an iconographic point of view.” (more…)

Sedwick Treasure Auction to take place on April 9th

The latest Treasure Auction (#5) by Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC will take place on April 9, 2009. Lots are now available for viewing on their website at www.sedwickcoins.com. Sedwick’s newest sale is his biggest ever.

“When we began our Treasure Auctions two years ago, we had no idea how quickly the concept would grow. Just compare our first sale of around 400 lots to almost 1800 lots now, more than a fourfold increase!” Says Sedwick:

This is also Sedwick’s first auction to offer live Internet bidding via iCollector.com.

“While we hope to offer fully live auctions in person some day, we feel we offer the next best thing with live bidding on the Internet combined with full descriptions and photos, both in this catalog and on our website, and our long-standing reputation for accuracy and fairness” .

This latest auction features extreme-size coins, from immense Swedish copper “plate money” to tiny silver cuartillos (¼ reales) from Spanish colonial mints, literally hundreds of which appear in this sale from a collection of “mini-coins” assembled over the course of 40 years. Also featured is what the catalogers believe to be the largest Potosí cob 8 reales (“Great Module”) ever made. Even the shipwreck bullion section offers the extremes of huge silver and copper ingots and to tiny flakes of gold dust and nuggets.

Sedwick’s primary area of concentration, Spanish colonial cobs, is well represented this time by a collection of mostly 8 reales. (more…)