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Category: Shipwrecks & Treasure

Odyssey Marine finds 1744 Shipwreck That Could Hold up to 4 Tons Of Gold Coins

World’s Mightiest Ship Was Lost Without a Trace in 1744 – Mystery Solved

Cannon, Sir John Balchen, Gold CoinsOdyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX), pioneers in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, has discovered the long-sought shipwreck of HMS Victory lost in 1744, solving one of the greatest mysteries in naval history. The legendary British man-of-war that sank in the English Channel 264 years ago.

Found below about 330 feet of water, the wreckage of the HMS Victory may carry the greatest jackpot ever. Research indicates the ship was carrying 4 tons of gold coins when it sank in storm, said Greg Stemm, co-founder of Odyssey Marine Exploration, ahead of a news conference today in London.

The direct predecessor and inspiration behind Nelson’s flagship, Balchin’s Victory was the mightiest and technically most advanced vessel of her age. She sank during a storm in 1744 with all hands and was the last Royal Navy warship to be lost at sea with a complete complement of bronze cannon. Two of the greatest admirals in English history, Sir John Norris and Sir John Balchin, called her their flagship. Research indicates that Balchin’s Victory sank with a substantial amount of gold and silver specie aboard.

Odyssey has been cooperating closely with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) on the project, and all activities at the site have been conducted in accordance with protocols agreed with MOD and Royal Navy officials. Terms of collaboration between Odyssey and the UK MOD on the project are currently being negotiated, and an agreement similar to the Sussex Partnering Agreement has been proposed.

“Finding this shipwreck has solved one of the greatest shipwreck mysteries in history. Having discovered it in deep water far from where history says it was lost has served to exonerate Admiral Balchin and his officers from the accusation of having let the ship run aground on the Casquets due to faulty navigation,” commented Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have worked closely with the MOD on this operation, and anticipate that we will continue the excellent cooperative relationship that we have enjoyed working together on the Sussex project. Fortunately, this shipwreck is not in waters claimed by any other country, so we do not expect any interference in further exploration of the site.” (more…)

British Shipwreck Could Hold £2.6 Billion in Treasure

By By Jasper Copping – Telegraph.co.UK

In a project shrouded in secrecy, work is due to start on recovering the cargo, which was being transported to the United States to help pay for the Allied effort in the Second World War.

The scale of the treasure trove is likely to unleash a series of competing claims from interested parties. Salvage laws are notoriously complex and experts say there could be many years of legal wrangling ahead.

In order to protect its find until the cargo is brought to the surface, the company that located the wreck has not released the name of the vessel or its exact location, but has given the ship the code name “Blue Baron”.

It says the merchant ship, which had a predominantly British crew, had left a European port, laden with goods for the US Treasury under the Lend-Lease scheme, whereby the American government gave material support to the Allied war effort in exchange for payments.

The Blue Baron first sailed to a port in South America, where it unloaded some general cargo, before continuing north in a convoy, heading for New York.

However, the company claim it was intercepted by German U-boat U87 and sent to the bottom by two torpedoes in June 1942, with the loss of three crew members. Their nationalities are not known.

Sub Sea Research, a US-based marine research and recovery firm, claims it has now located the wreck under 800ft of water about 40 miles off Guyana. (more…)

Norfolk gold coin find makes £20,000

A historic gold coin believed to have been found by a King’s Lynn road worker has sold for nearly £20,000.

The road worker’s daughter found it in his possessions after he died and took it to an auction- house valuation day in the town in November.

The Western European Solidus coin is slightly larger than a 20p piece and is thought to date from around 830 to 850 AD.

It is believed it would have found its way to Anglo-Saxon England through trade.

A spokesman for Lockdales, the Ipswich-based auctioneers which sold the coin, said: “The owners of the coin had no idea that it might be of any significant value, as it was kept with a few other coins of minimal value.

“They had nothing else to do on the day of our valuation day and brought it in on the off-chance that it might be of interest, but they had no expectations.

“We knew it was something important as soon as we saw it.  “The owners agreed to put the coin up for auction and we set about researching it.”

The coin was given a guide price of between £5,000 and £10,000 but the new owners paid a total of £19,346 at the auction at the weekend.

Huge Hoard of “Boudicca Era” Gold Coins Found in UK

UK Gold HoardThe largest hoard of prehistoric gold coins in Britain in modern times has been discovered by a metal detectorist in East Anglia.

The 824 gold staters, worth the modern equivalent of up to £1m when they were in circulation, were in a field near Wickham Market, Suffolk, (an area once on the southern fringe of Icenian territory, near its border with the Trinovantian tribal kingdom) . Almost all the coins were minted by royal predecessors of Boudicca, the warrior queen of the Iceni tribe who revolted against Rome in AD 60.

The solid gold staters – each weighing just over 5g – were made between 40BC and AD 15, most of them in the final 35 years of that period. They were buried in a plain pottery vessel, possibly inside a rectilinear religious compound, between 15 and AD 20.

Jude Plouviez, of the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, said their value when in circulation had been estimated at a modern equivalent of between £500,000 and £1m, but they were likely to be worth less than that now.

“It’s a good, exciting find. It gives us a lot of new information about the late Iron Age, and particularly East Anglia in the late Iron Age. The discovery is important because it highlights the probable political, economic and religious importance of an area. It certainly suggests there was a significant settlement nearby.” she said.

Ms Plouviez said the find was the largest collection of Iron Age gold coins found in Britain since 1849, when a farm worker unearthed between 800 and 2,000 gold staters in a field near Milton Keynes (more…)

Must-See-TV for Enthusiasts and Collectors of Shipwreck Coinage

New Discovery Channel Series Debuts Thursday, January 15.

Discovery Channel Treasure QuestJoin deepwater explorers Odyssey Marine Exploration as they search for — and find — some of the world’s greatest shipwrecks and bring the ships’ untold stories back from the mysterious deep.

Watch Treasure Quest starting this Thursday, January 15, on the Discovery Channel at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

A world leader in commercial deep-water exploration and recovery, this assembly of experienced explorers is gearing up for its most ambitious season of searching for shipwrecks yet. The company’s goal for the 2008 season is extraordinary: to find and recover two of the greatest shipwrecks ever lost at sea. Their value could be well in excess of a billion dollars.

Yet, the stakes of this adventure are even higher. Odyssey Marine Exploration is setting itself another challenge: to penetrate the mysteries of dozens of never-before-seen shipwrecks — and to bring to light their stories of untold riches, courageous men and women, tragic endings and remarkable rescues.

In 2003, Odyssey discovered the Civil War era shipwreck of the SS Republic®, 100 miles off the coast of Georgia and subsequently recovered over 51,000 coins and 14,000 artifacts from nearly 1,700 feet deep.

In May 2007, the company announced the largest historic deep-ocean treasure recovery of over 500,000 silver and several hundred gold coins, weighing 17 tons, from a Colonial era site code-named “Black Swan.”

During 2008, Odyssey located and tentatively identified at least one of its targeted high-value shipwrecks in the “Atlas” search area and Discovery Channel’s cameras were there to capture every discovery.

For a sneak preview of the show, visit the Treasure Quest on the Discovery Channel Web site.

Israeli Archaeologists Find 7th Century Gold Coin Hoard

The Israel Antiquities Authority reported a thrilling find Sunday — the discovery of 264 ancient gold coins in Jerusalem National Park.

The coins were minted during the early 7th century.

“This is one of the largest and most impressive coin hoards ever discovered in Jerusalem — certainly the largest and most important of its period,” said Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, who are directing the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Researchers discovered the coins at the beginning of the eight-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which started at sunset on Sunday.

One of the customs of the holiday is to give “gelt,” or coins, to children, and the archaeologists are referring to the find as “Hanukkah money.”

Nadine Ross, a British archaeological volunteer, happened onto the coins during the dig just below the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

“To be honest, I just thought, ‘Thank God I didn’t throw it in the rubbish bucket,’ ” said Ross, who had taken four weeks off from her engineering job in England to work at the site. “I was just glad I sort of spotted it before I disturbed it too much.” (more…)

‘Exceptional’ Roman coins hoard

One of the largest deposits of Roman coins ever recorded in Wales, has been declared treasure trove.

Roman Copper Coin HoardNearly 6,000 copper alloy coins were found buried in two pots in a field at Sully, Vale of Glamorgan by a local metal detector enthusiast in April.

After the ruling by the Cardiff coroner, a reward is likely to be paid to the finder and landowner.

It is hoped the coins will be donated to National Museum Wales, which has called the find “exceptional”.

Two separate hoards were found by the metal detectorist on successive days, one involving 2,366 coins and the other 3,547 coins, 3m away.

The 1,700-year-old coins dated from the reigns of numerous emperors, notably Constantine I (the Great, AD 307-37), during whose time Christianity was first recognised as a state religion.

Edward Besly, the museum’s coin specialist called it an “exceptional find”.

He said: “The coins provide further evidence for local wealth at the time. They also reflect the complex imperial politics of the early fourth century.”

‘Time of danger’

It is thought the two hoards were buried by the same person, possibly two years apart. A similar find was uncovered in the area in 1899.

“There was quite a bit of Roman activity in the area at the time, southwards from Cardiff Castle, where there was a Roman fort, to the Knap at Barry where there was an administrative building and there were farms in the Sully area,” said Mr Besly. (more…)

Odyssey Marine Exploration and Arqueonautas Worldwide Partner in Presenting Legendary São José Coins

Fewer than 7,200 collector-grade coins available for purchase

Portuguese shipSailing in haste with hopes to escape an impending attack by the British and Dutch armies, the São José ultimately met her demise in 1622. For nearly 400 years the treasures onboard from the Portuguese Empire were lost along with the carrack. For the first time ever after their spectacular 2005 recovery by Arqueonautas Worldwide, which holds the title to the São José, these legendary coins are now available for private ownership. Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. has secured exclusive rights to broker the coins from the São José shipwreck. Fewer than 7,200 collector-grade coins have been recovered.

Under the command of Francisco da Gama, the great grandson of the legendary explorer Vasco da Gama, the São José was the flagship of a fleet on a mission for Phillip III, King of Spain and Portugal, carrying an impressive cargo of silver coins. Francisco was also on his way to reign as the Viceroy of India. However, the São José never reached her destination when after the British and Dutch attacks she perished off the coast of Mozambique.

silver treasure of Philip III, King of PortugalThe São José carried an impressive cargo, the legendary silver treasure of Philip III, King of Portugal, that had been handed over to Francisco da Gama on his way to India. The shipment included nine chests filled with thousands of silver reales coins produced in both the Old and New World mints.

“This historic find offers a very rare opportunity for coin collectors. The São José collection is composed of a unique assortment of Old World and New World mints, laden with rich history, and there are only very few coins available for sale considering the size of the world-wide coin collecting community” said John Longley, Odyssey’s Director of Business Development.

“The Portuguese 1622 São José is an outstanding discovery for two reasons – for her cultural and historical significance accompanying the Vice Roy of India to Goa, and for her commercial value carrying the “Kings money” which we were able to recover from the shipwreck. These coins provide scientific proof of the importance of the Spanish Real as the only true global currency of its time. Some of the coins on board were found to have changed ownership three times in a period of only 12 months moving half around the globe,” commented Niki Graf Sandizell, CEO of Arqueonautas.

According to historic coin expert and author Carol Tedesco, a treasure of this nature does not come along very often. “Not only does the assortment include some truly rare varieties, the treasure features an amazing scope of world-wide commerce in the 16th and 17th century,”
Tedesco commented. (more…)

Daniel Frank Sedwick Treasure Auction #4

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC ( www.SedwickCoins.com ) announces the release of their new mail-bid Treasure Auction #4 by catalog and internet.

Sedwick Treasure Auction 4 CatalogThe auction closes November 6. Highlights of this sale include:

  • A California Gold Rush-era gold ingot from the S.S. Central America (1857) estimated at $125,000+ and also a gold bar marked with the “En Rada” stamp (Peña-Randa) from the Atocha (1622) estimated at $40,000+
  • The “Golden Fleece wreck” (ca. 1550) Special Research Collection of Mexican Charles-Joanna rarities (including the famous 3 reales of 1536 estimated at $10,000+ and many of the finest specimens of the first issues struck in the New World)
  • Gold “finger” bars and silver “splash” ingots from the same wreck; a 1626 specimen of a Spanish 50 reales “cincuentín” (at 170 grams, the largest Spanish coin ever minted, most examples of which are only seen in museums) estimated at $15,000+
  • Coins and artifacts from the newly discovered “Wild Horse River Wreck” (ca. 1620) in the River Plate off Uruguay; and Part I of the Treasure Library of Tom Sebring (author of Treasure Tales—Shipwrecks and Salvage).

“This is by far our largest and most important auction to date,” says Dan Sedwick, a coin expert with over 20 years’ experience and a pioneer in the field of authentic “treasure” collectibles. “We anticipate that the results will exceed the total low estimate of about $1 million.”

Sedwick’s assistant Agustín “Augi” García adds “the current economy is poised for investors to put their money into collectibles and hard assets, and buying treasure coins and bullion and artifacts is a fun way to do just that. We feel the timing of our auction could not be better.” (more…)

Peru Filing Claim In “Black Swan” Case

Peru. 8 Reales, No Date (c. 1568-1571),Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. announced that the Republic of Peru filed a motion in federal court in one of the company’s pending admiralty cases. As anticipated after numerous statements in the media, Peru formally filed a Verified Conditional Claim in the “Black Swan” admiralty case, which was originally filed by Odyssey Marine Exploration. The case is currently pending before the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida.

“Odyssey’s position is to encourage every appropriate claimant to present its potential claims in a case like this, so we welcome Peru’s filing, even as the Company reserves its legal position. If the court does not find that the property was abandoned, we believe that the property in the “Black Swan” case would be handled under the traditional law of salvage,” said Greg Stemm, Odyssey Chief Executive Officer.

The nature of a salvage award is that the award to the salvor is not dependent upon the number of claimants. Claimants other than the salvor must either enter into an agreement amongst themselves to split the owner’s percentage of a find or submit their individual claims to the court for adjudication. For instance, in the case of the Central America, an award of 92% of the cargo was made to the salvor, and the remaining 8% was held in trust while various insurance companies were given the opportunity to present their respective claims.

“We believe that Peru’s filing raises a significant and timely question relating to whether a former colonial power or the colonized indigenous peoples should receive the cultural and financial benefit of underwater cultural heritage derived from the previously colonized nations. Odyssey would be pleased to involve Peru in the study and archaeological investigation of any property that is found to have originated in Peru, without regard for whether Peru has any legal rights to the property. We would also be pleased to extend the same courtesy to any other sovereign government, indigenous people, relatives or descendants who might have a legitimate claim or interest in property discovered on any of Odyssey’s shipwrecks,” Mr. Stemm added.

Treasure hunters’ delight at the discovery of Roman coins bounty

Roman Coins found in DerbyshireTHREE treasure hunters have unearthed 62 Roman coins which date back 1,700 years.

Adam Staples, Lisa Grace and her 14-year-old son, Tom Grace –- out with his metal detector for the first time – made the discovery on land near Stanton-by-Bridge.

The trio, from Derby, were scouring the soil when their equipment began to beep.

Mr Staples scooped up the earth and in his hands were the first of 62 ancient coins they would find over the next six days.

Yesterday, an inquest held at Derby Coroner’s Court decided they were treasure – which means they are more than 300 years old and contain less than 10% gold or silver.

The items must now be offered for sale to a museum at a price set by an independent board of antiquities experts. Only if a museum expresses no interest in the item, or is unable to purchase it, can the owner retain it.

The coins date back to the reign of four emperors, Diocletianus, Maximianus, Constantius and Galerius, who ruled Britain between 296AD and 305AD.

Ms Grace, 35, of Reeves Road, said: “We were so excited when we found the coins, absolutely ecstatic. We have found coins, ingots and other Roman pieces before but nothing as old as this.”

The haul was discovered between September 27 and October 3 last year. (more…)

Treasure hunter claims reward after five-year battle

Silver Viking CoinsA TREASURE hunter is set to receive his reward five years after he unearthed a hoard of Viking coins. Andy Whewell discovered 464 silver Viking coins, 26 silver ingots and an armlet in a field in Glenfaba in March 2003.

After being declared treasure trove, part of the Glenfaba hoard went on display in the Viking Galley at the Manx Museum. Mr Whewell and Manx National Heritage were locked in a lengthy battle over the value of the discovery.

In May, MNH vice-chairman Alex Downie MLC called for Tynwald to approve a payment of £275,000 for the find but the matter was adjourned after Peel MHK Tim Crookall revealed five valuations had been commissioned ranging from £166,000 to £490,000.

Last week Tynwald agreed to award Mr Whewell £300,000 for the find. It followed a meeting between the parties at which it was resolved that one of the valuations, which was 12 months old, would be revised to £298,261 taking into account market changes, Mr Downie explained.

After a five year wait Mr Whewell said he was glad it had come to an end but will continue looking for treasures with his trusty metal detector.

Chief Minister Tony Brown admitted: ‘This has been a real long struggle to get this matter sorted out.’ He said all parties were frustrated as they had had to use legislation dating back to the 1500s.

The S.S. New York and the Branch Mint Gold Market.

By Doug Winter – www.raregoldcoins.com

1845-D Quarter Eagle from the SS New YorkI recently learned that the coins from the shipwreck S.S. New York will be sold by Stack’s in July at this firm’s pre-ANA auction. Unlike some of the other shipwrecks that have been uncovered in recent years, the coins found on the S.S. New York will have an impact on the branch mint gold market.

According to information gleaned from the NGC website, the S.S. New York was a light cargo and passenger ship vessel that operated between New Orleans and Galveston. It was destroyed during a hurricane on September 7, 1846. Seventeen crew members were killed and “thirty to forty thousand dollars in gold, silver and bank notes” were lost according to contemporary reports.

What is especially interesting about these coins is that they represent one of the most eclectic, diverse cross-sections of coins in circulation during the first part of the 19th century that has ever been found. Unlike the S.S. Republic and S.S. Central America, the coins in this group tend to be smaller denomination and much of the gold was produced in Dahlonega and the local New Orleans mint.(Even more interesting is the fact that only two Charlotte issues were included. This should tell us something about the geographic distribution of Charlotte coins).

The coins have been curated by NCS and, according to the reports that I’ve read, numismatists such as John Albanese, David Bowers and Mark Salzburg have commented on how exceptional they are from the standpoint of quality. In fact, Albanese was quoted as saying “…many of them look like they were just minted yesterday.”

NGC just published the first census of these S.S. New York coins and, from the look of it, there are some extremely interesting pieces that will be available. (more…)

NGC Releases SS New York Population Report

1844-O Eagle from the SS New YorkA comprehensive population report of all the NGC-graded gold coins from the SS New York is now available. The SS New York operated a light cargo and passenger service between New Orleans and Galveston until it sank during a storm on September 7, 1846.

Coins recovered were conserved by Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS) and then certified by NGC. The newly released population report includes 297 gold coins representing a broad cross-section of coins used in commerce along Gulf of Mexico trade routes during the early nineteenth century.

Download: SS New York Graded Gold Coin Population Report (PDF)

Coins recovered from the SS New York are from Western Europe, South and Central America, and the United States. The US coins include several exemplary condition coins from southern mints.

For example, an 1845-D $2.50 graded NGC MS 64 is the highest graded example of this Dahlonega issue. Other notable examples include an 1844-D $5 NGC MS 63 PL, the only prooflike example of the date to be certified, and two 1844-O $10 NGC MS 63 pieces, tied as the two finest examples of the issue certified.

Read Full NGC Announcement

Colony of Avalon turns up whole gold coin from 17th century

The Archeologists at a dig near the southern shore community of Ferryland have unearthed the first whole gold coin ever found in Newfoundland.

The Scottish coin, a Sword and Sceptre dated 1601, was found at the Colony of Avalon archeological dig on June 10. It went on display at the Colony’s interpretation centre on Friday.

According to a news release, the coin was issued during the reign of King James VI of Scotland two years before he ascended the throne of England as King James I following the death of Queen Elizabeth I.

The coin is about the size of a loonie, weighs about five grams and is made of 22 karat gold. It had a value of six pounds (120 shillings), which represented a lot of money at the time.

“If you do it based on wages, that amount … would be about four months wages for the person who did all the marketing for the King’s household,” archeologist Jim Tuck told CBC Radio.

The coin, discovered on the second day of this season’s digging season, was found on top of a footing that Tuck thinks dates from the very early years of the Colony.

“We were exposing that footing and scraping off the top layer … scraping the dirt and leaves and bottle caps and junk off the top where we had stopped last year and lo and behold, here was this gold coin which I thought first was the inside … the liner for a bottle cap or something like that, but within a few seconds it was pretty obvious that it was real gold and that it was something we had never seen before,” he said.

Even though the coin has a split in it, Tuck said it’s in very good shape, and he wonders how it survived not only 400 years, but how it remained hardly worn between 1601 to 1621 – the time between when the coin was struck and the settlement was established. (more…)

A £200m treasure hunt. Has Odyssey Marine found ‘La Vierge’?

By Cahal Milmo for The Independent

La Vierge Shipwreck Found?‘La Vierge’ was the pride of Louis XIV’s merchant navy when it sank in 1666. A private company is trying to reclaim its booty – but would this be an act of historical vandalism?

Laden with jewels and treasures plundered from Madagascar, the French galleon La Vierge du Bon Port was barely a day from home and safety on 9 July 1666, when it was attacked by British privateers off the Channel Islands. It was a testimony to the value of the French vessel’s cargo, and the greed of its captors, that 36 English sailors drowned while trying to drag the riches from their sinking prize.

The loss of La Vierge, the pride of the newly-founded French East India Company, along with two more of the four vessels in its flotilla ended the ambitions of Louis XIV, the Sun King, to turn Madagascar into one of the first colonial possessions of France. The ship’s booty was valued at £1.5m at the time and included gold, silver, spices and ambergris, the waxy discharge from sperm whales that was prized as a base for perfume. In modern terms, its value could be as much as £200m.

A report of the arrival in Guernsey of the Orange, the vessel that sank La Vierge, said: “Here arrived His Majesties Shipp the Orange whoe having ben in fight with a French ship, which came from the Isle of Madagascar, very richly laden upon account of the East India Company of Fraunce, her ladinge did consist of cloth of gold, silk, amber grease, gould, pearls, precious stones, corall, hides wax and other commodities of great value.” La Vierge would enter the ranks of near mythical “El Dorado” wrecks that have been the subject of swashbuckling stories and, more recently, attempts by a new generation of controversial salvage companies to pinpoint their watery resting place.

Two weeks ago, Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc, the Florida-based company which has become the most high profile and contentious of the hi-tech “treasure hunters” now plying the world’s oceans and archives for evidence of lucrative wrecks, filed a claim at the District Court in Tampa to two “cannon wrecks of the Colonial period” lying within the English Channel between 25 and 40 miles from the British waters. Documents state that Odyssey “believes that potentially valuable cargo may be located at or near the site”, which remains a closely-guarded secret. (more…)

Celtic coins break sales record

Celtic CoinsAncient coins discovered by a man with a metal detector have been auctioned for more than £35,000.

The 41 Celtic gold coins, dating back to the first half of the 1st century, were found by a mystery collector in a Kent field.

Morton and Eden auction house in London said one of the treasures broke records for a Celtic coin found in the UK.

The hoard fetched three times the expected price because many of the coins had been preserved in pristine condition, auctioneers said.

Morton and Eden said the precise location of the field is being kept secret to deter bounty hunters.

But a spokesman did disclose that the coins were found by a metal detector user over a three-year period between 2003 and 2006 near the town of Westerham.

The record-breaker was a gold stater which bears the name of an obscure ruler called Diras, thought to be from north of the Thames in an area governed by the Trinovantes and Catuvelauni tribes.

Only one other example is recorded, now in the British Museum. It sold to a New York dealer for £12,075, setting a new world auction record for a UK Celtic coin. It was estimated at between £3,000 and £4,000. (more…)

Consumer advocacy group wants Peru to claim treasure found near Spain

Colonial Silver mine in Peru with Lima Minted CoinLIMA, Peru: Peruvian consumer rights advocates urged Peru’s government Monday to claim some US$500 million in gold and silver coins found in a sunken galleon off the coast of Spain last year.

Some 17 tons (15.4 metric tons) of coins were discovered by a Tampa, Fla.-based treasure-hunting company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, when it raised a shipwreck west of the Straits of Gibraltar in May 2007.

Spain’s government also claims ownership of the wreck and its contents — and has sued Odyssey, which hauled away the treasure.

But the Association of Peruvian Consumers and Users said the South American nation also has a right to the booty, since it believes the coins were made with Peruvian metals and minted in Lima.

“This gold was stolen from the Incas,” said Jaime Delgado, the consumer group’s president.

A spokeswoman for Peru’s National Institute of Culture said the government could take legal action if its own research finds the coins are of Peruvian origin.

But David Avellar Neblett, a maritime lawyer in Florida, said Spain’s claim would still likely override Peru’s because legal precedent establishes that warships and other state vessels — and their cargo — remain national property after submerged.

Lawyers for Odyssey and Spain’s government told a federal magistrate judge in Tampa on Monday that they are still exchanging information, which means that the case may not go to trial until next year.

The galleon is thought to have been sunk in a naval battle with Britain off the coast of Portugal in 1804.

Spain in U.S. Court Today over Black Swan Treasure

CNN Video of Black Swan ClaimsA battle royale over an estimated $500 million treasure that a Florida deep-sea salvage company found last year is due for a fresh round in court in Florida on Monday.

The Spanish government now says the 500,000 silver and gold coins that the company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, found last year in the Atlantic Ocean near Spain came from one of its ships that sunk in a 19th-century naval battle. Spain wants the entire treasure returned, but Odyssey insists Spain may have no right to it.

Lawyers for both sides are due to present arguments Monday morning in a U.S. federal court in Tampa, Florida, in another round of the case that started last year, Odyssey spokeswoman Natja Igney told CNN.

Odyssey found the coins last year and quietly airlifted them in crates from Gibraltar, a British colony on Spain’s southern tip, to Florida for safekeeping. The company then said it was unclear how the huge quantity of coins it found on the seabed had gotten there. It declined to reveal the location, citing security reasons, and mysteriously dubbed the site “Black Swan.

But the Spanish government, at a recent Madrid news conference, said it’s really not so complicated.

“The mystery is over,” said James Goold, a U.S. lawyer representing Spain, told the news conference. “Using a variety of methods to conceal what it was doing, Odyssey Marine Exploration stripped the gravesite that is the Spanish navy warship Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes of coins and other objects. The coins and other artifacts that Odyssey took from the site are documented to have been on the Mercedes,” Goold said.

The Mercedes was a 34-gun frigate, a ship very common at the time in the Spanish navy. The Mercedes left Peru, stopped in Uruguay and was just a day’s sail from Spain when the four-ship Spanish squadron was attacked by a British fleet in October 1804, according to a Spanish government’s filing to the Florida court. (more…)

Odyssey Marine Exploration Files Admiralty Arrests on Two Shipwreck Sites

Tampa, FL – May 29, 2008 – Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX), the world leader in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, today filed Admiralty Arrest Complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on two separate shipwreck sites recently discovered by the Company.

Both sites lie within the general area of the English Channel but are outside the territorial waters or contiguous zone of any sovereign nation. The sites both contain cannon and other artifacts which are believed to date from the Colonial period. Odyssey has conducted preliminary surveys but has not yet been able to confirm the identity of either site. The Company’s archaeological and conservation teams are currently developing archaeological excavation and conservation plans for both sites.

As with other shipwreck sites that the Company discovers, if either site can be identified, any potential claimants will be notified through appropriate private or public notices.

Odyssey’s core business is shipwreck exploration and archaeological excavation, so filing arrests on shipwreck sites to protect the Company’s legal interests occurs in the normal course of business. For security reasons, no additional information about these sites is being released at this time.

Odyssey Marine Exploration Shipwreck Expeditions to Become World Premiere Series on Discovery Channel

Shipwreck TreasureOdyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NASDAQ:OMEX), the world leader in deep ocean shipwreck exploration, has granted Primetime Emmy® Award-winning JWM Productions exclusive access to film Odyssey’s 2008 Atlas Search expeditions to produce a shipwreck exploration television series. Discovery Channel expects to premiere the 11-part High Definition (HD) series to worldwide audiences in 2009. Production is slated to begin immediately.

“We have the most experienced team of shipwreck explorers in the world manning our ships, and on a regular basis they make amazing discoveries in the deep ocean – things that have never before been seen by human eyes. We’re proud of the exploration and archaeological work our team accomplishes in the challenging offshore environment, and for a long time we’ve been looking for the right format to share the excitement of our expeditions with viewers around the world,” stated Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s Chief Executive Officer.

“JWM has a proven track record of producing smart, compelling television and Discovery Channel is the #1 media and television brand in overall quality for the eighth straight year. We’re sure that Discovery’s viewers will enjoy ‘being there’ during our shipwreck search and exploration expeditions,” Stemm continued. (more…)

Southern Gold Hoard will sell quickly

By Mark Ferguson for Coin Values

1844-O $5 and 1845-D $2.50 Gold recovered from the SS New YorkHearing of a “hoard” of coins conjures up images of surplus, oversupply and the uncommon that suddenly becomes common. This happened in 1962 when hundreds of thousands of the formerly rare Mint State 1903-O Morgan dollars surfaced in the form of $1,000 canvas bags of silver dollars that had been locked in a vault at the Philadelphia Mint since 1929.

The values of the previously few known Uncirculated examples of the 1903-O Morgan dollar quickly plummeted from between $1,000 and $2,000 each all the way down to about $25.

However, the opposite effect occurred when the LaVere Redfield hoard of more than 400,000 silver dollars, most graded Mint State, of various issues, common and rare, were skillfully marketed and disbursed. Market prices for these coins actually rose substantially during the next several years during the late 1970s in an expansion of the collector and dealer demand for silver dollars in general.

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Kentuckians have hunted fabled silver stash for centuries

Silver Treasure in KentuckyBy Amy Wilson – HERALD-LEADER.COM

Worley Charles’ grandfather told the story of when, as a boy, he marked timber somewhere along the Licking River and then rode the logs down the river. Somewhere along upper Devil’s Creek, 12 feet up on the ridge, he saw a hole in the ledge.

He climbed out of the water, cut a pine tree into a ladder and made his way up to look inside.

There, he found a set of hinged money molds in a bundle of leather. He had heard many times the story of Kentucky’s lost silver treasure, and how a man named John Swift had found or hid or smelted thousands in glistening nuggets and coins somewhere in these woods named now for Daniel Boone. But the man who hid the vast cache had gone blind. Blind!

Superstitious, Worley Charles’ grandfather never went back for more.

But his grandchild Worley was not so easily scared. He has been looking for John Swift’s silver since he started reading the copies of the 40 different Swift journals he’s gotten his hands on. He’s been looking for 35 years.

There’s a lot of cinematic hullabaloo this weekend about an intrepid archaeologist named Indiana Jones and a treasure of crystal skulls (which are real things, apparently.) Because movies require it, there’s lots of derring-do and a big finish.

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1846 Shipwreck Yields Southern Gold and Capped Bust Halves

(New Iberia, Louisiana) – A recent close examination of coins recovered a year ago from the 1846 Gulf of Mexico shipwreck of the SS New York has revealed some of the finest known Southern branch mint gold coins and a nearly complete set of Bust half dollars.

SS New YorkThe New York was a side-wheel steamer that foundered during a hurricane about 60 miles off the coast of Cameron, Louisiana in 1846. Four New Iberia, Louisiana area residents found the 365-ton wooden hull ship in about 60 feet of water two years ago. The four, who call their recovery operation, “Gentlemen of Fortune,” are Gary and Reneè Hebert, Avery Munson and Craig DeRouen.

“We brought up the ship’s bell in the summer of 2006, staked a claim and obtained a federal court judgment granting us title to the site, then brought up several hundred coins from the underwater mud last year. We recently sent them to Numismatic Conservation Services and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation for certification,” said DeRouen.

“This is the most important group of Southern gold coins ever found on a treasure ship. There are some of the finest known Quarter Eagles and Half Eagles struck in Charlotte and Dahlonega, as well as examples of gold coins struck at the New Orleans Mint,” stated prominent numismatic researcher and author Q. David Bowers, co-chairman of Stack’s Rare Coins in New York City and Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

“The recovered coins are worth more than $1 million,” said dealer John Albanese of Far Hills, New Jersey who recently appraised them.

“They include an 1845-D $2.50 graded NGC MS-64; 1844-D $5 graded NGC MS-63* prooflike; and an 1844-O $5 graded NGC MS-64. There’s also a nearly complete set of Capped Bust halves with over two dozen different dates including an 1815, and quite a few foreign gold coins as well,” said Albanese. (more…)

Mystery of Lost Confederate Gold

By Wesley Millett and Gerald White, authors of book “The Rebel and the Rose“.

Confederate Gold and SilverIn April 1865, the Civil War ended for most Americans. The war, and its various aspects, continues to capture the interest and imagination of many Americans who are fascinated by the battles, leaders, and strategy displayed during that conflict. Mysteries endure, too, including the ultimate disposition of the Confederate treasury.

Much of the mystery was engendered by Union officials, who greatly inflated the value of the Confederacy’s treasury to several million dollars. This was probably done to increase the incentive to Union soldiers combing the villages and roads of the Carolinas and Georgia for the treasury, and for Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who had fled Richmond. The actual value of the treasury was probably not much more than $500,000.

The trek south of the Confederate government has been well documented in a number of first hand accounts written several years after the war. The authors were primarily participants in the evacuation of Richmond and they included Confederate cabinet officials, army officers, and treasury employees. Many of the accounts were published in the papers of the Southern Historical Society, in an effort to dispel rumors that Davis took the money for himself and his family. One treasury clerk ? in particular, Micajah Clark ? provided a detailed accounting of the disposition of the funds.

An aspect of the treasure that Clark omitted concerned the fate of 39 kegs of Mexican silver dollars. These were coins that the Confederacy received through the sale of cotton to Mexico. The Mexican coins had been transported to Danville, Virginia, and when the Davis party was forced to move further south, primarily by wagon, the more than 9,000 pounds of silver would have considerably slowed down the procession. For this reason, the coins were almost certainly buried in Danville, and evidence suggests, they remain there today. Read Full Article Here

Roadrunner Sets Pace for Upcoming Superior Auction

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

1879 Flowing Hair $4 Stella On May 26 and 27, Superior Galleries of Beverly Hills will auction a variety of numismatic items, mostly U.S. coins, plus some patterns, many British and other European coins, tokens and medals, and paper money. The topic here is the ‘Roadrunner’ collection of 133 items, the vast majority of which are U.S. coins.

A significant percentage of the Roadrunner collection consists of coins from the shipwreck of the S.S. Republic, including a startling sixteen Liberty Seated Half Dollars. An extensive run of Liberty Head Double Eagles ($20 coins) is newsworthy. The collector known as ‘Roadrunner’ has gold coins of all denominations dating from the middle of the 19th century. Most of his gold coins were produced at Branch Mints, though he has several Philadelphia Mint gold coins.

The most valuable coin in the Roadrunner collection is an 1879 Flowing Hair Stella ($4 gold coin). It is NGC certified ‘Proof-67 Cameo.’ He purchased it privately from Superior Galleries.

Roadrunner Collection Overall, this collection is particularly strong in the series of Liberty Head Eagles ($10 gold coins). Eagles dated 1860-S are extremely rare, and Roadrunner has one of the highest graded ones, an NGC certified MS-61 1860-S from the S.S. Republic. It is one of only two that the NGC has graded above MS-60; the other, which is graded MS-61 is also from the S.S. Republic. The PCGS has not graded any of these above AU-55. It seems likely that fewer than fifty 1860-S Eagles are known.

The 1858-S Eagle is very rare. There are certainly less than 135 pieces known. Roadrunner’s 1858-S, NGC graded AU-55, may be one of the best. Jeff Garrett & Ron Guth write that the 1858-S “is nearly as rare as the more highly regarded 1858 Eagle, but unlike the 1858, no Mint State examples of the 1858-S are known” (Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins, 2006, p. 337). (more…)

NCS Conserves Coins Recovered from the Steamship New York

1844-O $5 and 1845-D $2.50 Gold recovered from the SS New YorkNumismatic Conservation Services (NCS) has been selected to conserve the coins recovered from the SS New York shipwreck. The coins comprise a diverse cross section of coins in circulation at the first part of the 19th Century, including an important group of exceptional quality southern mint gold coins. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) has been chosen to certify the coins following their conservation.

The SS New York operated a light cargo and passenger service between New Orleans and Galveston including military and post office contract passage until it foundered during a hurricane on September 7, 1846. Seventeen of the 53 crew and passengers were lost, along with “thirty to forty thousand dollars in gold, silver, and bank notes,” according to contemporary reports. Special Insert Label from NGC for the SS New YorkThe ship was first discovered in 1990 by an amateur diver and Louisiana oilfield worker who relied on reports of snags from local shrimp fisherman to pinpoint the wreck. After completion of archeological survey conducted by the Minerals Management Service, and gaining legal title to the wreck, the original discoverers returned to recover the ship’s coins in 2006.

While primarily “treasure seekers,” they were also concerned about the historic value and preservation of the artifacts they salvaged. “We chose NCS to handle the post-recovery process because of their unique capabilities and expertise in working with shipwreck coins. Their process maintains the historical pedigree that was important to us and also renders the most beautiful artifacts,” comments Craig DeRouen of the recovery operation. NCS also conserved all coins recovered from the historic shipwreck SS Republic.

“Together NCS and NGC offer the only professional services to conserve shipwreck coins and then certify them, preserving the integrity and history of these coins. The coins from the SS New York demonstrate this with their wonderful quality and rich diversity, both markers of their considerable importance,” relates NGC Chairman Mark Salzberg, who oversaw the certification of the coins from the SS New York.

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Coin dealers examining gold find from Louisiana coast

By ALAN SAYRE

The SS New York, image courtesy of The Mariner's Museum, Newport News, Virginia.A steamship that sank off the Louisiana coast during an 1846 storm has produced a trove of rare gold coins, including some produced at two, mostly forgotten U.S. mints in the South, coin experts say.

Last year, four Louisiana residents salvaged hundreds of gold coins and thousands of silver coins from the wreckage of the SS New York in about 60 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, said David Bowers, co-chairman of Stack’s Rare Coins in New York.

1844-D $5 from SS New York, photo courtesy of NGC“Some of these are in uncirculated or mint condition,” Bowers said, predicting the best could bring $50,000 to $100,000 each at auction.

Of particular interest to coin experts — numismatists — are gold pieces known as quarter eagles and half eagles, which carried face values of $2.50 and $5, respectively, in the days before the United States printed paper currency.

Those coins were struck at mints in New Orleans; Charlotte, N.C.; and Dahlonega, Ga. The Charlotte and Dahlonega mints operated from 1838, when the first significant U.S. gold deposits were found in those areas, until the start of the Civil War in 1861, said Douglas Mudd, curator of the American Numismatic Association’s Money Museum in Denver. Neither mint ever reopened.

The Dahlonega Mint produced 1.38 million gold coins, while 1.2 million were minted in Charlotte. Tens of millions of gold coins were minted in the United States before the federal government confiscated those held by individuals, banks and the U.S. Treasury in 1933 and melted them into gold bars as the country abandoned the gold standard.

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Editors Note: NGC has also posted an article entitled  “NCS Conserves Coins Recovered from the Steamship New York” with more details as to the type of coins found on the SS NewYork and the NSC conservation and NGC encapsulation.