Friday, May 18, 2007

Shipwreck Treasure Found

This is interesting wish they could release more
details about what coins they found or what ship it
might be. I hope the respect the archaeological
aspects of the site as well. It could be very exceptional if it is a
British Ship.

I hope you find it interesting, as I think we will
probably see these coins at some point on the market.

TAMPA, Fla. - Deep-sea explorers said Friday they have
mined what could be the richest shipwreck treasure in
history, bringing home 17 tons of colonial-era silver
and gold coins from an undisclosed site in the
Atlantic Ocean. Estimated value: $500 million.

A jet chartered by Tampa-based Odyssey Marine
Exploration landed in the United States recently with
hundreds of plastic containers brimming with coins
raised from the ocean floor, Odyssey co-chairman Greg
Stemm said. The more than 500,000 pieces are expected
to fetch an average of $1,000 each from collectors and

"For this colonial era, I think (the find) is
unprecedented," said rare coin expert Nick Bruyer, who
examined a batch of coins from the wreck. "I don't
know of anything equal or comparable to it."

Citing security concerns, the company declined to
release any details about the ship or the wreck site
Friday. Stemm said a formal announcement will come
later, but court records indicate the coins might come
from a 400-year-old ship found off England.

Because the shipwreck was found in a lane where many
colonial-era vessels went down, there is still some
uncertainty about its nationality, size and age, Stemm
said, although evidence points to a specific known
shipwreck. The site is beyond the territorial waters
or legal jurisdiction of any country, he said.

"Rather than a shout of glee, it's more being able to
exhale for the first time in a long time," Stemm said
of the haul, by far the biggest in Odyssey's 13-year

He wouldn't say if the loot was taken from the same
wreck site near the English Channel that Odyssey
recently petitioned a federal court for permission to

In seeking exclusive rights to that site, an Odyssey
attorney told a federal judge last fall that the
company likely had found the remains of a 17th-century
merchant vessel that sank with valuable cargo aboard,
about 40 miles off the southwestern tip of England. A
judge signed an order granting those rights last

In keeping with the secretive nature of the project
dubbed "Black Swan," Odyssey also isn't talking yet
about the types, denominations and country of origin
of the coins.

Bruyer said he observed a wide range of varieties and
dates of likely uncirculated currency in much better
condition than artifacts yielded by most shipwrecks of
a similar age.

The Black Swan coins - mostly silver pieces - likely
will fetch several hundred dollars to several thousand
dollars each, with some possibly commanding much more,
he said. Value is determined by rarity, condition and
the story behind them.

Controlled release of the coins into the market along
with their expected high value to collectors likely
will keep prices at a premium, he said.

The richest ever shipwreck haul was yielded by the
Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which sank
in a hurricane off the Florida Keys in 1622.
Treasure-hunting pioneer Mel Fisher found it in 1985,
retrieving a reported $400 million in coins and other

Odyssey likely will return to the same spot for more
coins and artifacts.

"We have treated this site with kid gloves and the
archaeological work done by our team out there is
unsurpassed," Odyssey CEO John Morris said. "We are
thoroughly documenting and recording the site, which
we believe will have immense historical significance."

The news is timely for Odyssey, the only publicly
traded company of its kind.

The company salvaged more than 50,000 coins and other
artifacts from the wreck of the SS Republic off
Savannah, Ga., in 2003, making millions. But Odyssey
posted losses in 2005 and 2006 while using its
expensive, state-of-the-art ships and deep-water
robotic equipment to hunt for the next mother lode.

"The outside world now understands that what we do is
a real business and is repeatable and not just a lucky
one shot deal," Stemm said. "I don't know of anybody
else who has hit more than one economically
significant shipwreck."

In January, Odyssey won permission from the Spanish
government to resume a suspended search for the wreck
of the HMS Sussex, which was leading a British fleet
into the Mediterranean Sea for a war against France in
1694 when it sank in a storm off Gibraltar.

Historians believe the 157-foot warship was carrying
nine tons of gold coins to buy the loyalty of the Duke
of Savoy, a potential ally in southeastern France.
Odyssey believes those coins could also fetch more
than $500 million.

But under the terms of a historic agreement Odyssey
will have to share any finds with the British
government. The company will get 80 percent of the
first $45 million and about 50 percent of the proceeds

1 comment:

Michael said...
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