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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.

In 1990 the wreck was located by a group of four treasure seekers styling themselves as the Gentlemen of Fortune. In time, over 400 gold and over 2,000 silver coins were recovered. The better-preserved examples were consigned to Stack’s and sold at auction last year, amid much excitement. Since that time, a much smaller number of important coins have been recovered from the wreck. These as well as some interesting artifacts (bottles, silverware, and other items) comprising several hundred lots in all, will be showcased in our July 30th-31st sale to be held in Los Angeles at The Tower Beverly Hills Hotel prior to the ANA Convention. The sale will offer nearly 1500 lots including major rarities with corresponding collector material in the United States series, World coins, and World paper money.

It is anticipated that once again the interest in our offering will be intense. Not only are the coins desirable in their own right, but each is a part of maritime history. The S.S. New York gold coins are part of a very elite class: only four other ships with significant early federal gold coins have ever been found: the S.S. Yankee Blade (lost in 1854), S.S. Central America (1857), S.S. Brother Jonathan (1865), and S.S. Republic (1865). The S.S. New York treasure is the earliest and has yielded incredible coins of high quality from the 1840s not represented in the other shipwrecks. Information about the S.S. New York treasure is included in the latest (2010) edition of the Guide Book of United States Coins.

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