Auction News

Underwater  and MarineTreasures Auction News

  • More treasure auction from The SS Central America

    Gold from the SS Central America

    By James Callery - Mail Online

    Rare treasure pulled from Gold Rush era shipwreck SS Central America, dubbed the Ship of Gold, have sold at auction, including a 32 ounce ingot that went for $138,000.

    A trove of items found in the ship that sank off the coast of South Carolina in 1857 due to a hurricane went up for sale at the two-day event. Items sold included a large 18-karat gold quartz engraved brooch, which went for $49,200.

    San Francisco businessman Sam Brannan was sending it to his son in Geneva, Switzerland, as a gift to his teacher.

    The 32.15 ounce Kellogg & Humbert assayer's California Gold Rush ingot was the highest selling item, while a saloon sign from the ship attracted a winning bid of $13,200.

    The auction on March 4 and 5 was conducted in Reno, Nevada, as well as online, by Holabird Western Americana Collections, spanning 422 lots. A haunting a portrait of a young lady found in the remnants of the ship was sold for $73,200. 

    The 19th century daguerreotype metal plate photograph was captured using the first publicly available photographic process. It is notable for its superb resolution.

    The scientific mission recovery team nicknamed the woman 'Mona Lisa of the Deep', after retrieving the photo in 2014 from the seabed amid a scattered pile of the ship's coal. There are no records on her identity. Fred Holabird, President of Holabird Western Americana Collections, said: 'We had about 7,000 registered bidders, including some from Canada, Europe and South America.

    'Many collectors were waiting for these extraordinary items to come on the market since the legendary, submerged ship was located in 1988 and Life magazine proclaimed it America's greatest treasure ever found.

    More to read...

  • Pair of Levi’s jeans salvaged from an 1857 shipwreck

    The jeans salvaged from the wreckage.

    From Vittoria Benzine - Artnet News

    Vintage bank notes, gold nuggets, and jewelry were among 550 treasures from the 1857 S.S. Central America shipwreck that went to auction with Holabird Western Americana Collections in Reno this month.

    Final prices across their multi-million-dollar sale ranged from $48 for a collection of books about treasure (estimated $80–$100) to $1,080,000 for gold from the vessel’s treasure box (estimated $1,800,000–$2,500,00).

    However, a salvaged pair of miner’s pants from Mexican-American war veteran, merchant, and possible gold rusher John Dement stole the show, pulling in a total of $114,000—more than double their $50,000 estimate.

    Holabird said the trousers could be the earliest known example of Levi Strauss craftsmanship. Gold from the S.S. Central America has appeared at auction before, but this is the first time its artifacts have been sold.

    The 280-foot S.S. Central America had made 43 successful trips by September 1857, when it departed Panama for New York City carrying 477 passengers, 101 crew members, and 30,000 pounds of precious metal from the California gold rush.

    After one stop in Havana, a hurricane shredded its sails and flooded its decks. Only 153 people survived. Marine engineer Tommy Thompson raised $12.5 million from 161 private investors to fund the expedition, which first surfaced coins from its wreck off the Carolina coast in 1988.

    Thompson was prosecuted in 2005 for shorting investors of their shares. The thousands of gold bars, coins, and relics he unearthed were only five percent of the loot.

    Full story...

  • The last great mystery of the SS Central America shipwreck

    Coins for sale from SS Central America

    From Cision PR Newswire

    On September 3, 1857, the SS Central America began a voyage from Panama to New York carrying very important cargo: thousands of freshly minted gold coins from California, desperately needed by New York banks that were facing an economic crisis.

    Six days later, the ship found itself in the grips of a Category 2 hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas.

    After three days of struggling with high winds and waves, the ship's crew lost its battle with the storm and the Central America sank, resulting in the loss of more than 400 lives and more than 9 tons of gold.

    For more than 130 years, treasure hunters dreamed of discovering the wreck of the SS Central America, which quickly became known as the "Ship of Gold." When the wreck was finally discovered in the late 1980s, the process of retrieving its treasure began.

    Numismatic Guaranty Company™ (NGC®) is thrilled to reveal to the public the final mystery of the ship's recovered cargo — a box containing $20 gold coins from the height of the California Gold Rush, now certified, preserved and ready to be studied and appreciated by collectors around the world.


    Full story...



  • Brooch salvaged from the General Abbatucci under the hammer

    From the shipwreck of the General Abbatucci 1869

    By Gemma Jimmison - Harrogate Advertiser

    On offer with an estimate of £400-600 plus buyer’s premium, the brooch was reportedly salvaged from the wreck of the General Abbatucci, a French steamship that was sunk off the north coast of Corsica on May 7, 1869 on its way from Marseilles to Italy.

    A quantity of jewellery was salvaged from the wreckage in 1996 and sold at Christie’s London on October 7, 1997, when the present brooch was lot 259.

    Full story...



  • Rare bottle of Scotch salvaged and sold

    The ship SS Politician was loaded with whiskey. The sinking of the ship inspired Whisky Galore

    By George Mair - Mail Online


    A rare bottle of whisky salvaged by The Mail on Sunday from a shipwreck that inspired the film Whisky Galore! has fetched a record £12,925. The sum is thought to be the highest ever paid at auction for a single bottle of Scotch from the wreck of the SS Politician, which ran aground in 1941 near the island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides.

    The blended whisky was recovered during a dive sponsored by the MoS in 1987, and offered as the first prize in a poem competition won by Donald McLaren of Dundee, who passed away aged 78 in 2016.

    Mr McLaren’s daughter, Nicola Hastie, offered the bottle in The Grand Whisky Auction’s online sale, where it attracted global interest, and a bidding war saw the price soar to double its £5,000-£6,000 estimate.

    Mrs Hastie, 57, who will share the proceeds with brother Andrew, said: ‘It was amazing.

    Dad was an avid reader of The Mail on Sunday and read it from cover to cover every week. ‘He was delighted to win such an historic bottle thanks to his poem, but he would be very happy with this outcome.

    It feels like Dad’s still looking after us. ‘I don’t know who bought the whisky, but I would love to think that it might go on display for people to enjoy.’

    Of her plans for her share of the proceeds, she added: ‘I’m going to visit Rothesay, where my dad grew up, for the first time, to see where he lived and went to school.

    ‘Dad and I enjoyed art so I’ll look for a painting of Rothesay to hang next to his framed poem as a reminder of him. Also, I’ve never seen Whisky Galore! so I’ll buy it on DVD.’

    The 8,000-ton SS Politician was bound for Kingston in Jamaica and New Orleans when it ran aground.


    Full story...



  • Bids galore for whisky plucked from shipwreck

    Whisky enthusiasts are bidding to get their hands on cargo from one of the most famous shipwrecks in history.

    By Ben Hendry - The Press and Journal


    When the SS Politician ran aground off the coast of Eriskay in 1941, it was carrying 28,000 cases of malt whisky – filled with about 264,000 bottles.

    Islanders couldn’t believe their luck and quickly conducted unofficial salvage missions to the wreck in the ensuing days, in an escapade captured in the comic book and film Whisky Galore.

    Some locals went so far as to wear their wives’ dresses so that leaking engine oil from the hold would not get on their clothes and give them away to customs officials who visited the Hebrides to stamp out the practice.

    Collectors are now fighting to purchase a bottle secured during a diving expedition decades later, which has gone up for auction online. Offers will be accepted until Friday night with the current highest bid already approaching the guide price of £10,000.

    Sellers from The Grand Whisky Auction website describe it as a “very exciting and rare bottling” which offers the chance to own “a piece of whisky history”.

    The bottle was recovered by diver George Currie, from Orkney. He was working on a subsea cable repair from South Uist to Eriskay when his team located the wreck.

    The whisky onboard included Gilbey’s, Ballantine’s, VAT 69 and more and the lot up for sale includes an original poster from the 2016 remake of Whisky Galore, the diving helmet Mr Currie had on when he found it and bricks from the ship.

    The auctioneer adds: “It is incredibly rare to recover a bottle from the wreck that has not been destroyed by the tides and the passage of time.”

    Full story...



  • 400-year-old wine found in ancient shipwreck

    Two 17th century bottles of wine found in 2010 in a shipwreck off the coast of Germany

    By Michael Hollan - Fox News


    Wine lovers will soon have the opportunity to purchase 400-year-old bottles recovered from an actual shipwreck.

    Two bottles of Shipwreck Wine, believed to be from a 14-bottle collection dating back to the late 17th century, were scheduled to be auctioned off on June 5th and 6th.

    Christie’s, a British auction company, is handling the sale. According to their website, the bottles are the oldest bottles of wine the auction house has ever brought to market. It’s believed that the bottles date back to between 1670 and 1690, though experts are unsure of the exact year.

    They were discovered in 2010 in a shipwreck off the coast of Germany.

    The bottles will be auctioned during Christie’s Finest and Rarest Wines and Spirits sale in London.

    Full story...



  • Unique California Gold Rush shipwreck coin

    “Most beautifully toned gold coin ever seen” was purchased for $282,000

    From Art Daily

    A rare U.S. gold coin struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1857 and recovered five years ago from a world-famous California Gold Rush shipwreck set a record price for any 1857 San Francisco Mint $20 denomination gold coin. It was sold for $282,000 in a public auction in New Orleans, Louisiana conducted by Lincoft, New Jersey on May 16, 2019. 

    The coin was recovered in 2014 from the S.S. Central America, the fabled “Ship of Gold, that sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 1857. The Supernova was discovered on the ocean floor among piles and stacks of coins that originally were in boxes of Double Eagles being shipped to New York by San Francisco businesses.

    Described by Legend President Laura Sperber as “the most beautifully and amazingly colorful toned gold coin we have ever seen!,” the sunken treasure Double Eagle was independently graded Mint State 67 (on a 1 to 70 scale) by Professional Coin Grading Service.

    Full story...



  • Six rare bottles of Scotch from 1941 shipwreck

    Scotch on sale

    From Daily Mail

    Six rare bottles of Scotch salvaged from the shipwreck that inspired Whisky Galore! are to be sold at auction. The SS Politician ran aground off Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides during bad weather in February 1941 – with 264,000 bottles in Hold Number Five.

    Some islanders conducted an unofficial ‘salvage’ mission – and even donned their wives’ dresses so that engine oil leaking on to their clothes would not give them away afterwards.The wreck was immortalised by Compton Mackenzie in his 1947 novel Whisky Galore! and the Ealing comedy which followed two years later.

    The six bottles will be auctioned at Bonhams in Edinburgh on June 5. They are a Ballantine’s, a VAT 69, and four bottles of Gilbey’s. Each one is expected to fetch £6,000 to £8,000.Unlike much of the contents of Hold Five, they were salvaged legally in 1990 and are accompanied by official documentation from HM Customs.

    Full story...



  • Lettre d’un naufragé du Titanic

    Lettre d’un des passagers du Titanic

    Ouest France

    Une lettre d’un naufragé du Titanic, l’Américain Oscar Holverson, adressée à sa mère, a été vendue aux enchères, samedi en Angleterre, pour la somme de 126 000 livres sterling, soit 141 000 euros. L'hôtel des ventes Henry Aldridg Andson a publié un extrait de la lettre sur son compte Instagram. 

    La missive datée du 13 avril 1912, soit la veille du naufrage, est composée de trois pages avec l’en-tête du Titanic, rapporte la BBC.

    L’homme détaille la splendeur du paquebot. « Le bateau est d’une taille gigantesque, il est aménagé comme un palace », écrit-il avant de préciser : « Si tout va bien, nous arriverons à New York, mercredi » L’homme d’affaires américain périra le lendemain dans le naufrage.

    En revanche sa femme Mary réussit à survivre.

    La lettre a été retrouvée sur l’épave du Titanic, à l’intérieur d’un carnet de notes retrouvé sur le corps du défunt. Le courrier a été acheté par un collectionneur britannique.



  • Nazi eagle pulled from the sea to be auctioned

    The eagle being pulled from the water

    By Anna Slater

    A giant bronze eagle perched atop a Nazi swastika which was lost in a shipwreck during the Second World Wa r will be sold off to raise money for its military.

    The giant statue sunk on board Nazi battleship Graf Spee off the coast of Uruguay in 1939 - but a private salvage company recovered it in 2006, some 75 years later.

    The bronze symbol, which weighs 300 to 400 kilograms and is nine feet wide, sat on the ship's prow. The figure recovered from the seabed by Alfredo Etchegaray 11 years ago and as authorities decided what to do with it, it was kept in a warehouse heavily guarded by the military.

    After a long battle in court, the Supreme Court ruled the Uruguayan state was the piece's rightful owner. But it also said Mr Etchegaray, who worked for a private salvage company, should get 50 % of its profits when the eagle is sold.

    Mr Etchegaray previously told the BBC the eagle could be worth up to £10 million - which will go towards funding the country's armed forces and its Defence Ministry.

    The German embassy in Montevideo has urged Uruguayan authorities not to put it on display because it could glorify the Nazi regime.

    According to the BBC, Guido Westerwelle, who was the German foreign minister during a visit to Uruguay in 2010 told officials in Montevideo: "We want to prevent wreckage from the ship, in particular the Nazi symbols, from landing on the market for military insignia."

    Full story...







  • Laurentic bell purchase being considered by Council

    The bell of the Laurentic

    By Brendan Mcdaid - Derry Journal


    The council was told that a recent exhibition and series of projects to mark the 100th anniversary of the Laurentic tragedy had generated major interest and resulted in a surge in visitor numbers to the Tower Museum.

    The Laurentic exhibition tells the story of the famous White Star Line ship, commandeered by the Royal Navy to transport gold to Canada to buy ammunition for the war effort in 1917.

    The ship sank off Lough Swilly on January 25, 1917 after striking two German mines, with 354 sailors perishing in the disaster. The 121 survivors were cared for in Inishowen and eventually brought to the Guildhall in Derry for a meal by the then mayor, Alderman R.N. Anderson and donations collected for them from across Derry and Donegal.

    For the 100th anniversary, The Laurentic Bell, a prized artefact was loaned from the shipwreck centre in the Isle of Wight.

    The Council Committee was told that the bell will be auctioned for sale in the coming months. Officers proposed that they “consider the purchase of the Laurentic Bell as a key permanent display in the new maritime museum,” with a fuller report on this expected at a later date.

    Full story..







  • Emeralds unearthed in shipwreck

    The rare gems will be auctioned off as part of the Marcial de Gomar Emerald Collection

    By Khristian Ibarrola - Lifestyle Inquirer

    Shipwrecks are usually home to lost treasures including an extremely rare 887-carat gem.

    A collection of exquisite emeralds discovered from a 400-year-old shipwreck will be up for auction on April 25, The Telegraph reported.

    The impressive glittering set of gems, which consists of more than 20 loose emeralds, is far more expensive than diamonds and will be sold to the highest bidder by Guernsey’s Auction House in New York, USA.

    But the collection’s main attraction is the 887-carat “La Gloria,” which is deemed as ”one of the largest museum-quality emeralds in the world.”

    The gem is estimated to fetch between $4 million and $5 million.

    Full story...







  • Sunken treasure from the "Hoi An Hoard"

    Two 15th/16th Century Asian Blue and White Serving Dishes, Vietnam. Estimate: $200-400

    From Art Daily

    Turner Auctions + Appraisals will present an online sale on February 12 from the renowned “Hoi An Hoard” – historic treasures of 15th- and 16th-century Vietnamese ceramics that were recovered from a trading ship that sank over 500 years ago in a typhoon in the Dragon Sea.

    Excavated from the deep with extreme difficulty under death-defying conditions in the late 1990s, the shipwreck’s collection of porcelain artifacts is considered by many experts to be the most significant find in Vietnamese art.

    The auction features over 160 lots, almost all with multiple items. Among the offerings are vases large and small, boxes, wine flasks, bowls, tea and wine cups, serving plates, platters and more.

    Some items are decorated with blue and white designs, enamel or white glaze; some are undecorated; and some include marine encrustations from over five centuries buried at sea.

    An auction highlight is a small, one-of-a-kind box in the form of a crab, decorated with green enamel that has degraded over the years due to underwater exposure at the bottom of the sea.

    The works for sale from the Hoi An Hoard are sure to tempt today's treasure hunters.

    These 500-year-old ceramics – probably created in the mid-1400s, before Johannes Gutenberg printed his first bible and Leonardo da Vinci was born – infrequently come up for auction.

    Focused on individual buyers, this auction presents a rare opportunity to obtain art objects with a unique historical, cultural and archaeological provenance – and at prices that enable most people to participate.

    The story of the Hoi An Hoard – from the collection itself, which is the only known cache of Vietnamese ceramics, to the extraordinary underwater archaeological excavation, which involved smuggling, typhoons and hazardous diving operations – is an amazing tale. 

    Full story...







  • A silver bar from a 17th-century shipwreck

    5 minutes with… A silver bar from a 17th-century shipwreck

    From Christie's

    When the Atocha sunk in a hurricane nearly 400 years ago hope of recovering its rich cargo seemed lost. This silver ingot in our 20 January sale, however, is a remarkable survivor.

    ‘On 6 September 1622, the Nuestra Senora de Atocha sunk during a hurricane near Florida Keys,’ explains Christie’s specialist Jill Waddell. ‘Two hundred and sixty lives were lost at sea, along with tons of treasure bound for Spain.’ Weighing 79lb, this bar of silver was marked with the name of a silversmith who also went down with the ship. 

    More than half a century before the foundation of colonial cities including Boston, Philadelphia and New York, the Spanish were leading the rapid expansion of the New World in centres including Potosí, Lima and Mexico City.

    The continent’s mineral wealth became vital to the Spanish throne: from 1561 to 1748, two fleets carrying supplies were sent to colonists each year, returning to Spain filled with silver and gold.

    ‘The Atocha was so richly-laden with treasures that it had taken two months to load, and it left port at Havana six weeks later than scheduled,’ continues Waddell.

    ‘It was the most heavily guarded ship in a fleet of 20, and was carrying clergymen, slaves and members of the Spanish nobility. When a hurricane struck, the boat was slammed into a reef, sinking in just 55 feet of water.

    Just five of those who had been on board survived.’

    Full story...







  • Whisky pulled from 120-year-old shipwreck

    Whisky pulled from a 120-year-old shipwreck (left) and King Edward VII (right)

    From the Express

    Interestingly, the cap of each bottle has an inscription indicating it was a favourite tipple of King Edward VII, the former Prince of Wales. The writing reads, ‘Specially Selected Very Old Scotch Whisky Same As Supplied To H.R.H The Prince Of Wales’, a role which Albert Edward occupied between 1841-1901.

    The now undrinkable collection was recovered from the wreck of the SS Wallachia, which sank in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland, in 1895. The 260ft steamship left Queen’s Dock, Glasgow, on a voyage to the West Indies with a valuable cargo of gin and whisky.

    The vessel slipped under the waters of the Clyde and as she became submerged tons of water made contact with her boilers, causing an enormous explosion. Wallachia settled over 100ft below sea level. To reduce the danger to navigation divers cut the tall masts off and the wreck was left lying on the seabed. She lay forgotten for almost a century until divers investigating a fisherman’s snag rediscovered her in 1980.

    Some of the first people to explore the wreck unearthed hundreds of dark green McEwan’s beer bottles as well as a collection of whiskies in the ship’s hold.

    The vendor of the items to appear at auction inspected the wreck in 1988 and pulled seven bottles of whisky out as well as a stone flagon and a McEwan’s stout bottle, which will be sold separately.

    The keen amateur diver kept the relics in storage at his home until recently, when he decided to sell up.

    Full story...







  • Treasure from Spanish shipwreck fetches $2m

    A gold chalice was among the treasure offered by auction house Guernsey’s from Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha

    From the Guardian

    An extraordinary collection of shipwrecked 17th and 18th century Spanish treasure discovered off the coast of Florida has sold in New York for about $2m.

    US treasure hunter Mel Fisher was most famous for discovering the shipwrecked Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which went down in a hurricane in 1622, laden with new world riches.

    To mark the 30th anniversary of his find, auction house Guernsey’s offered up nearly 40 items retrieved from the Atocha, her sister ship Santa Margarita and a fleet which sank in 1715.

    An exquisite gold chalice from the Margarita was the top selling lot, fetching $413,000 at Wednesday sale, Guernsey’s said. An emerald-encrusted crucifix from the 1715 fleet went for $119,000 and a gold bar from the Atocha for $93,750.

    No information on the buyers was immediately available. Guernsey’s said the total value of all items sold was “around $2m” in keeping with pre-sale estimates.

    The Atocha was laden down with riches from the new world and headed back to Spain when it sailed straight into a hurricane. The vessel went down with 265 people on board, of whom only five survived. It was the most famous boat of at least eight in the Spanish flotilla that sank during the storm.

    After a painstaking search taking more than 15 years, Fisher located the wreckage on 20 July 1985, recovering $450m worth of treasure.

    Full article...






  • Shipwreck treasures sold at South Yorkshire auction house

    From The Star

    Treasure found in a 16th century shipwreck has been sold for £250,000 in a South Yorkshire auction house.

    The 230 pewter plates and bowls were among 1,200 items of high-quality English tableware recovered from the wreck of a Spanish galleon off the Dominican Republic.

    It is believed the unnamed ship was carrying Spain’s new ambassador to its colony of Hispaniola, now the Dominican Republic and Haiti, when it sank in about 1540.

    A diplomat is thought to have been the only survivor after he swam ashore.

    About a third of the tableware bears the mark of Sir Thomas Curtis, one of the most important pewterers in London in the 16th century, and mayor of the city in 1557.

    His mark also appears on much of the pewter recovered from the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship, which sank in the Solent in 1545.

    Highlights of the 230 items sold at Wilkinson’s auction house in Doncaster included a set of octagonal plates by Sir Thomas that fetched £27,000.

    Another set made by master pewterer Edward Cacher was sold for £22,000.

    Three-quarters of the items found will remain in the possession of the Dominican Republic. The rest has been given to the divers who have been recovering them for the past two years.

    Auctioneer Sid Wilkinson, said: “These items are as good as, if not better than, the pewter found in the wreck of the Mary Rose.”

  • Shipwreck wine draws buyers at auction

    Marie Therese wines

    By Rupert Millar

    The two six bottle lots of the salvaged Bordeaux (pictured) both doubled their high estimates and sold for £5,405 apiece.

    The bottles were salvaged from the wreck of the Marie-Thérèse off the coast of the Philippines in 1991 and are believed to be from either the 1865 or 1869 vintage.

    Once brought to the surface they were re-corked and labelled at the château.

    Also performing well were a collection of 19thcentury Yquem, a bottle of the 1865 also doubled its estimate to £6,815, another bottle of the 1870 made £7,050 and a bottle of the 1894 made £4,230.

    Elsewhere though the top lots, comprised, as usual, of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Haut-Brion, Pétrus, Henri Jayer and Le Pin, sold within their estimates – all save a 12 bottle case of 1994 Echézeaux Henri Jayer, Georges Jayer propriétaire, which made £22,325 with a high asking price of £18,500.

    A collection of Ornellaia demi-magnums with designs by Michelangelo Pistoletto failed to even meet its low estimate of £7,500, the hammer coming down on £5,875.

    Full story...

  • Buried at sea for 500 years

    From Express

    Specialist divers spent two years extracting the perfectly preserved pewter plates and bowls from beneath the waves of the Caribbean. 

    Now more than 1,200 items of the finest quality English pewter will go on sale in the UK later this month. 

    The haul was recovered from the wreck of an unnamed galleon, which is thought to have sunk around 1540. They have been so well preserved in the seabed that they are said to be as historically valuable as those raised from the wreck of the Mary Rose.

    It is believed the ship was transporting the incoming Spanish ambassador from Seville to his new colonial home on the island of Hispaniola, now the Dominican Republic and Haiti. 

    Onboard were thousands of pieces of top quality dining crockery. But disaster struck when the ship sunk after hitting rocks. The ambassador survived but his possessions could not be rescued and went down with the ship.&

    The wreck was only discovered in 2011 and the excavation process is still ongoing. The majority of the pieces will stay in the Dominican Republic but around 200 have made it back to Britain and will now go under the hammer in Doncaster.

    The salvage team had to chisel through several inches of rock to uncover the stunning artefacts. Some pieces are said to be in as good a condition as when they were made.

    Around a third of the pewter bears the mark of Sir Thomas Curtis, regarded as the most important London pewterer of the 16th Century.

    Sir Thomas was Mayor of London in 1557 and his mark also appears on much of the pewter from the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's flagship, lost in the Solent in 1545.

    The collection is tipped to fetch £200,000 when it goes under the hammer. Among the highlights are a pair of 16-inch plates made by London pewterer Edward Cacher worth £15,000.

    A pair of octagonal plates made by Sir Thomas could fetch £5,000.



  • Sotheby's to offer one of most important collections of shipwreck photographs

    Shipwrecks photographs on sale

    From Art Daily

    An unparalleled archive of shipwreck images will be presented for sale at Sotheby’s London auction on 12th November 2013.

    Taken by four generations of the Gibson family of photographers over nearly 130 years, the 1000 negatives record the wrecks of over 200 ships and the fate of their passengers, crew and cargo as they traveled from across the world through the notoriously treacherous seas around Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly between 1869 and 1997.

    Such is the power and allure of the Gibson’s photographs that these images have captured the imagination of some of the UK’s most celebrated authors.

    At the very forefront of early photojournalism, John Gibson and his descendants were determined to be first on the scene when these shipwrecks struck.

    Each and every wreck had its own story to tell with unfolding drama, heroics, tragedies and triumphs to be photographed and recorded – the news of which the Gibsons would disseminate to the British mainland and beyond.

    The original handwritten eye-witness accounts as recorded by Alexander and Herbert Gibson in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries will be sold alongside these images.

    The archive will be sold as a single lot in Sotheby’s Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History sale, and is estimated to achieve between £100,000 and £150,000.

    ‘This is the greatest archive of the drama and mechanics of shipwreck we will ever see – a thousand images stretching over 130 years, of such power, insight and nostalgia that even the most passive observer cannot fail to feel the excitement or pathos of the events they depict.’ - Rex Cowan, shipwreck hunter and author ‘We are standing in an Aladdin’s cave where the Gibson treasure is stored, and Frank is its keeper.

    It is half shed, half amateur laboratory, a litter of cluttered shelves, ancient equipment, boxes, printer’s blocks and books. Many hundreds of plates and thousands of photographs are still waiting an inventory.

    Most have never seen the light of day. Any agent, publisher or accountant would go into free fall at the very sight of them.’ - Author John Le Carré, on visiting the Gibsons of Scilly archive with Frank Gibson in 1997

    Full story...

  • All that's left of whisky galore

    Two rare bottles of whisky salvaged from a shipwreck off Eriskay in 1941 which inspired a book and film Whisky Galore to be auctioned

    From Mail Online

    Two rare bottles of whisky salvaged from a shipwreck which inspired a book and film are to be auctioned.

    The collector's items were part of the cargo on the 8,000-ton cargo ship the SS Politician which sank off the shores of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides in 1941 and inspired the book and film Whisky Galore.

    The bottles, which have documents of authentication, are to be sold as a pair by Britain's biggest internet-only auction site Scotch Whisky Auctions, based in Glasgow, with bidding opening on Saturday and closing on May 5.

    >A great deal of interest is expected due to the unusual and legendary story behind where they came from.

    Scotch Whisky Auctions director Bill Mackintosh said: 'Everybody loves the idea of the wily islanders diving to the bottom of the wreck and coming back up with bottles of whisky which they would then hide from the customs.

    'But it is true that there are only eight which have have been authenticated recently and these are two of those which were sold at Christie's some time ago.'

    The eight bottles surfaced in 1987 when local man Donald MacPhee from South Uist in the Outer Hebrides explored the wreck and found his liquid treasure.

    He sold them at auction with Christie's and got £4,000 for his loot.

    Two of those bottles were bought by a man in Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire. He has recently died and his widow decided to sell them along with the neck tags from Christie's and letters of authentication.

    Full article...

  • Qing dynasty gold sycee sunken treasure valued at $40,000

    Gold from VOC Geldermalsen

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    A gold sycee ingot from China's Qing dynasty will provide one of the star lots of Baldwin's 54th Hong Kong Coin Auction of Far Eastern and World Coins and Banknotes, to be held on April 4.

    The ingot is valued at $30,000-40,000, one of the highest estimates given in the sale.

    It was discovered among the wreckage of the Geldermalsen, one of the largest Dutch East Indiamen, which sank in 1751 and was discovered in 1986.

    The 10-Taels bar weighs 365g and is in a winged rectangular shape. It was originally part of the Christie's auction of the huge cache of porcelain and gold that was found in the wreck, which made more than $6.6m in the Netherlands shortly after its discovery.

    In September 2012, Bonhams sold a gold ingot discovered among the wreckage of the SS Central America, better known as the Ship of Gold, for $146,000.


  • Pieces of eight from West Cornwall shipwreck sold at auction

    17th century cob on auction

    From Falmouth Packet

    Coins recovered from a West Cornwall shipwreck that still inspire visions of pirates and buried treasure have sold at auction.

    The 17th Century Cob and piece of eight were recovered from the wreck of HMS Association, lost at sea in 1707.

    Sold by Hanson's Auctioneers in Derbyshire the coins were found after the ship, which launched from Portsmouth Dockyard in 1697 and fought at capture of Gibraltar,  was dredged up 300 years later in 1967.

    One was a 17th century ‘COB,’ a Spanish currency.

    Unusually shaped, this coin details the history of Spain, as this currency was cut crudely into shapes of an accurate weight, in preparation for its melting down and using in jewellery.

    Also uncovered from the wreck was an example of the infamous pieces of eight. As the world’s first global currency these were used across the vast Spanish Empire.

    Full article...


  • Sunken Spanish treasure found off Florida Keys enlivens auction

    The emerald jewel of the lost Atocha treasure, discovered in a Spanish shipwreck. Estimate: $150,000 to $250,000

    By Katy Mantyk - The Epoch Times

    Two Spanish ships, loaded with the belongings of nobility returning to Spain with the armada in 1622 never made it past the Florida Keys.

    It is believed that at least one of the ships was sunk by a storm.

    Fast forward nearly 400 years. The sunken ship was found by a team of divers hunting for shipwrecks. Only in their dreams could they imagine what they found inside the ship when they swam upon the hull.

    A Colombian emerald set in gold, dating back to the Renaissance period, was recovered from the shipwrecked Spanish galleon, Nuestra Señora de Atocha.

    It will be among the fascinating, history-rich offerings at Sotheby’s sale of Masterworks on Friday Feb. 1 in New York during Old Masters Week. The treasure is estimated to sell for between $150,000 and $250,000.

    The ship Atocha was commissioned by the Casa de Contractación, a Spanish government agency which attempted to regulate Spanish exploration and colonization efforts, and was named for Our Lady of Atocha, whose shrine in Madrid was regularly visited by Spanish kings.

    The ship was constructed in Cuba and, after ill-fated attempts to depart the shipyard due to needed repairs, she finally crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Spain late in 1620.

    Next, in Cartagena, Colombia and Portobelo, Panama, the galleon was loaded with the belongings of the noble families and other passengers making the return journey to Spain with the armada.

    The fleet set sail for Spain with goods and passengers on September 4, 1622 in the midst of hurricane season.

    Both the Atocha and the Santa Margarita only sailed as far as the Florida Keys before they hit a squall and sank along the reefs.

    Full article...

  • Captain James Cook's pistol to auction for $209,000 ?

    The sale is set to take place on the 234th anniversary of Cook's death

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    A fascinating, early 18th century Continental Flintlock Holster pistol, which was previously owned by British explorer Captain James Cook (1728-1799), is to auction in Australia on February 14.

    The Godefroi Corbau Le Jeune-made gun is estimated to achieve between A$100,000 and A$200,000 ($104,565-209,057) ahead of the highly anticipated sale.

    A fascinating, early 18th century Continental Flintlock Holster pistol, which was previously owned by British explorer Captain James Cook (1728-1799), is to auction in Australia on February 14.

    The Godefroi Corbau Le Jeune-made gun is estimated to achieve between A$100,000 and A$200,000 ($104,565-209,057) ahead of the highly anticipated sale.

  • Deep-sea treasures of Vietnam

    Nearly $4 million from artifacts in the shipwreck in Ca Mau province

    From Vietnam Net

    The information on antiques in the sea always attracts the attention of antiques collectors and traders, as well as fishermen.

    There were treasures worth of millions of USD found, making the hunt for antiques under the sea never end.

    76,000 items including bottles, kettles, cups, plates, spoons, statues ... made of ceramic were brought from Vietnam to auction in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2007.

    These are the artifacts that were excavated in 1998 and 1999 from an ancient sunken ship in Ca Mau waters. The antiques are defined to be produced in the Qing Dynasty, China, between 1662 - 1722.

    Through the broker Unicom Corporation (USA), the auction of the huge number of antiques from the Ca Mau shipwreck was mandated to the Sotheby’s International Auction Company. After the 3-day auction, the entire antiques were sold.

    The number of antiques from Vietnam startled the world.

    There were lots of antiques that were paid ten times more than expected: 69 plates and tea cups with the buffalo boy pattern were sold for 49,200 euros, 12 times higher than expected, or the set of 74 tea cups with the Chinese tent pattern was bought by a Russian for 31,200 euros, 10 times higher than the expected prize.

    However, in the end, the 76,000 antiques only grossed $3.9 million.

    After deduction of income tax in the Netherlands, the sum was only $3.25 million. That amount continued to decrease by 20 percent of the remuneration for the company to stand up for the auction – the Sotheby’s and the cost of underwater archaeological excavations, preservation costs, etc.

    Finally, the real figure was just $1.3 million.

    Full article...

  • Two rare Titanic menus bring major world records at auction

    Titanic's menu

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    Two rare menus from the Titanic have sold at the head of an auction dedicated to the ill-fated ship's memorabilia, which took place in the UK on Saturday (November 24).

    The first of the menus was for a first class lunch held on the Titanic's maiden voyage, and sold for £64,000 ($102,500).

    The second, which came from a VIP meal held in Belfast to mark the launch of the liner, achieved £36,000 ($57,631).

    Dated April 10, 1912, the menu for the first class lunch - which featured hodge podge, lobster and ox tongue - was taken as a memento by passengers Richard and Stanley May.

    The fishmonger brothers travelled with first class tickets and used the Titanic to cross the Irish Sea, departing as the ship called at Queenstown in Ireland.

    The price achieved was the highest ever seen for a menu of that date. In April, a first class menu from the last lunch ever eaten aboard the Titanic, on April 14, sold for £76,000 ($121,634), almost 100 years to the day since the Titanic sank off the coast of Newfoundland.

    The second menu sold in the auction was for an exclusive VIP meal held on May 31, 1912, which was given as the ship launched in Belfast.

    The illustrious guests, who would have watched as the Titanic first took to the water, were presented with a luxury selection of fois gras, turtle soup and champagne at the city's Grand Hotel.



  • Titanic auction includes sextant owned by rescuer

    Sextant - Titanic

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles


    A unique sextant owned by the captain of the first ship to respond to the Titanic's distress signals is to be sold at auction on November 24.

    Estimated to achieve £70,000 ($111,368), the historically significant object was previously owned by Sir Arthur Rostron - captain of the Carpathia at the time of the Titanic's infamously ill-fated maiden voyage - and is thought to have been used by him as a navigational aid on the night the Titanic sank.

    The auction house believes Rostron acquired the sextant in 1883. Having remained in the Rostron family subsequent to his death, according to his great-granddaughter Janet Rostron, "it would certainly have been the instrument he used to navigate through the icy floes."

    2012 marks the centenary of the Titanic tragedy; a tragedy somewhat alleviated by Rostron's navigational expertise, whose efforts helped to recover 705 people.

    Along with Rostron's sextant, the sale will also feature an extensive catalogue of Titanic, ocean liner and transport memorabilia

    Collectible artefacts and memorabilia related to the Titanic have performed superbly this year.

    In the US, letter written by the Titanic's band leader sold in April for $154,974, while a deck chair from the ship (thought to be only one of seven still in existence) also achieved $65,351.


  • Revealing Titanic safety documents to auction for $48,000 in UK

    Weary survivors arrive at the HMS Carpathia on April 15, 1912

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    A set of revealing documents that raise concerns about safety equipment aboard the Titanic have been consigned to a November 24 auction in the UK.

    The documents originate from the collection of Captain Maurice Clarke, who served as the Board of Trade's emigration officer in the early 1900s. Clarke's duties concerned the safety of emigrant passengers and he made several inspections of the Titanic before its doomed voyage.

    The documents have not been seen for more than a century and are now being offered for £20,000-30,000 ($32,000-48,000).

    The most damning of the documents relate to Captain Clarke's inspections of the Titanic on April 4, 9 and 10 1912, the day it set sail from Southampton.

    Providing a detailed catalogue of all safety equipment onboard, the papers include a number of shocking revelations, including the fact that there were only six life buoys to cater for 3,000 passengers.

    Among accounts of the lifeboat drills, safety tests and distress signals, Clarke makes a suggestion that the ship should be equipped with 50% more lifeboats before departure.

    These suggestions were ignored by the White Star Line and, as Clarke's notes suggest, it is likely that the company pressured the Board of Trade into allowing Titanic to sail with fewer lifeboats.

    Full article...

  • Daniel Frank Sedwick Treasure and World Coin Auction #12

    Auction news

    By Daniel Frank Sedwick - coin Week

    With a pre-auction low estimate of over $1.5 million, this is our highest-value auction to date.

    As you browse the 1884 lots, you will see trophy after trophy (MANY “finest knowns”) interspersed with solid material in gold and silver coins and ingots, plus all kinds of artifacts.

    The catalog starts with a bang, featuring a collection of 24 Lima, Peru, 8 escudos among the 85 total gold cobs, most of them from shipwrecks and many in Mint State grade, with lots of rare dates (be sure to read our article enumerating all the dates and varieties known).

    The World Gold Coins section after that features significant selections from Brazil, including an 1827 Pedro I 6400 reis in AU-55 grade (lot 114), plus an MS-63 dobrão (20,000 reis) of 1726-M (lot 102).

    All of the Spanish colonies and Latin American republics are well represented, one highlight being a very rare Popayán, Colombia, 10 pesos of 1870 in AU condition (lot 160).

    The highest value items, however, are in the Shipwreck Ingots and Shipwreck Artifacts sections: the former includes the largest gold bar (over 2.5kg) we have ever offered from the Atocha (1622) (lot 294), and the latter features several gold chains and an ornate gold vase from the 1715 Fleet (lot 1797) that we believe was meant for anointing the new Queen of Spain !

    Full article...

  • SS Central America ingot up 4.6% on estimate at Bonhams

    Gold ingot

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    A gold ingot that was salvaged from the SS Central America has returned to California after selling as top lot in Bonhams' Coins & Medals auction on September 2.

    The ingot was recovered from the wreckage of the famed 280 foot sidewheel steamer, which was sunk by a hurricane in 1857.

    At the time of sinking the "Ship of Gold" was weighed down with 10 tonnes of gold prospected during the California gold rush.

    The 40.56 ounce bar, which is stamped: "No.648 Kellogg & Humbert Assayers 40.56oz 8.87 Fine", sold for $146,900. The sale saw the bar achieve a 4.6% increase on its high estimate of $140,000.

    Since being located in 1987, and following an intense legal battle for ownership, the treasures of the wreck have been achieving outstanding results at auction.

    Another, larger ingot sold for $891,250 at the 2012 ANA World's Fair of Money on August 9.

    An 80 pound ex-SS Central America ingot was once recognised as the most valuable piece of currency in the world after selling for $8m in 2001.



  • SS Central America ingot sells for $891,250 at World's Fair

    Gold ingot

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    A Harris Marchand & Co gold ingot recovered from the wreckage of the SS Central America has sold with strong results, topping the Rarities Night at the 2012 ANA World's Fair of Money on August 9.

    The ingot was described as an American numismatic treasure by the auction house, as a unique example weighing 174.04 ounces of extraordinarily fine gold.

    Attributed to the Marysville, California office of Harris and Marchand (whose main office was in Sacramento), it sold for $891,250 as top lot in the sale.

    It originates from the SS Central America, a sidewheel steamer wrecked during a hurricane off the southern part of Virginia in 1857.

    The ship was carrying over $100m in coins and ingots from the California Gold Rush, which was only recovered in the 1980s and made available following an intense legal battle in 1996.

    Of the 500 ingots recovered from the ship, the most valuable is an 80 pound example that sold for $8m in 2001 to become the world's most valuable piece of currency. 



  • SS Central America ingot to make $140,000 at Bonhams' coin auction ?

    Another ingot from the wreck sold for $8m in 2001

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    A gold ingot salvaged from the wreckage of the SS Central America is to star at Bonhams' Coins & Medals auction in California on September 2.

    Also known as the Ship of Gold, the SS Central America was a 280-foot sidewheel steamer that was sunk by a hurricane off the east coast of the US in 1857.

    At the time of sinking, the ship was weighed down with 10 tons of gold prospected during the California gold rush.

    The worth of the gold carried aboard the Central America was valued at approximately $2m, which shook public confidence in the economy and contributed to the panic of 1857.

    The ship was eventually located in 1987, when a group of divers was sent to recover the gold, coins and various artefacts that had sank with it.

    After an intense legal battle, 92% of the gold was awarded to the discovery team in 1996.

    A gold ingot weighing 80 pounds was sold in 2001 for $8m and was recognised as the most valuable piece of currency in the world at the time.

    The ingot at auction weighs considerably less - 40.56 ounces - and is stamped: "No.648 Kellogg & Humbert Asssayers 40.56 oz 8.87 Fine".

    Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the group that discovered the wreckage and a custom made presentation box, it is expected to bring $120,000-140,000.



  • Carpathia gold Titanic medal up 13.8% on estimate

    Gold medal - Carpathia

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    A gold medal awarded to an officer from the Carpathia, the first ship to reach survivors of the Titanic disaster, has beaten its estimate at a UK auction.

    The gold medal awarded to Second Officer James Bisset sold for £41,000, 13.8% up on the £36,000 high estimate.

    The "unsinkable" Molly Brown, who would later be portrayed on the big screen for her efforts to rescue passengers, was among a group of first class passengers from the Titanic who decided on awarding Carpathia crewmembers medals.

    "Carpathia gold medals are some of the rarest pieces of Titanic memorabilia to exist today; this is only the second gold Carpathia medal to be offered in the last 25 years and is thought to be the most senior officer's medal to ever to go under the auctioneer's hammer," the auction house said, helping explain its strong performance at the sale.

    A bronze medal awarded to a lower ranking Carpathia crew membermade $2,000 last year.

    Full story...

  • Champagne sells for $156,000 after 170 years under water

    Champagne submerged

    From Fox News

    Eleven bottles of some of the world's oldest champagne found on the bottom of the Baltic sold for more than $156,000, with a single bottle of 200-year-old Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin champagne going for for $18,600.

    AFP reported that the organizers of the auction, which was held in Finland this week, got less than half what they had hoped.

    "We are quite happy about the money raised although we expected a new world record," Rainer Juslin, an Aaland provincial government official, told AFP.

    In 2010, divers exploring the wreck of a schooner sunk in the Baltic waters between Finland and Sweden discovered a total of 162 bottles of champagne.

    The bottles were part of the booty from a shipwreck dating from between 1825 and 1830. Of these, 79 were drinkable.

    The nearly 200 year old champagne auctioned off this week were in such perfect condition because they were lucky to land horizontally, under pressure, at a low temperature and in the dark.

    In 2011 a bottle of Veuve Clicquot raised from the same shipwreck was auctioned for a record-setting $37,000.

  • Veuve Cliquot shipwreck champagne headed for new world record ?

    Will a new record be set today ?

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    11 bottles of Veuve Cliquot could break the current world record for champagne at auction, in a Finnish sale today (June 8).

    The 200-year-old bottles were salvaged from a wreck in the Baltic Sea by diver Christian Ekstrom, who immediately surfaced and tasted a bottle with his fellow divers.

    The 140 bottles were found to be in excellent condition, as confirmed by champagne expert Richard Juhlin, who helped identify the bottles. It is said that the precious cargo, discovered in 2010, was intended for the court of Russian emperor, Nicholas I.

    The Veuve Cliquot lots are the oldest champagne bottles ever discovered. Made between 1782 and 1788, they significantly pre-date the 1893 Veuve Cliquot bottle which is currently on display in the Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin visitor centre in Reims.

    The bottles, which are being sold individually, could break the record price set last year by another bottle of Veuve Cliquot from the same shipwreck.

    In June 2011, a single bottle from the wreck sold for $43,630, smashing the world record previously set in 2008 by a bottle of 1959 Dom Perignon.

    Full story...

  • 200-year-old champagne to be sold at auction in Finland

    Bottles of Veuve Clicquot 
    Photo Neilson Barnard

    From AFP

    Eleven bottles of 200-year-old champagne salvaged from a Baltic Sea shipwreck will be auctioned off this week in Finland, as officials said Monday they hoped for a new record for the price of a bottle.

    Expectations were running high in Finland's autonomous province of Aaland, where the bottles were found in 2010, after a bottle of Veuve Clicquot from the same shipwreck was auctioned last year for a record-setting 30,000 euros ($37,400).

    That "encouraged us to organise a new auction," Rainer Juslin, an Aaland provincial government official, said in a statement.

    The bottles are part of the booty from a shipwreck dating from between 1825 and 1830, and discovered in July 2010 on the sea floor near Finland's autonomous Aaland archipelago.

    A total of 145 bottles from the distinguished champagne houses of Veuve Clicquot, Heidsieck & Co and the now-defunct house of Juglar were rescued from the wreck, according to the Aaland Islands provincial government.

    Six bottles of Juglar, four bottles of Veuve Clicquot and one bottle of Heidsieck & Co will be auctioned off on Friday.

    Champagne expert Richard Juhlin, who tasted and helped to identify the salvaged bottles, has attested to the high quality of the champagne, which has preserved its taste thanks to ideal conditions at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

    The Aaland government designated one of France's leading auction houses, Artcurial, to organise the auction, which will take place at the Congress and Cultural Centre in Mariehamn on Friday at 3:00 pm (1200 GMT).

    The profits generated by the auction will go to a variety of charitable causes.

  • Bonhams Titanic ticket reaches $56,250 in New York

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    The R.M.S Titanic: 100 Years of Fact & Fiction sale at Bonhams saw a ticket to the launch of the ill-fated vessel reach $56,250.

    The auction on Sunday (April 15, 2012) was held to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the ship. It saw some of the most important and rare Titanic memorabilia go on sale, crowned by the launch ticket.

    The ticket, which admits one to the launch of the ship at Belfast, allowed the holder to witness the ship roll into the sea before being towed to the fitting out berth. Noted for its rarity, the item is unused with the perforated admission stub still attached.

    A First-Class menu from the ship brought $31,250. It shows the dinner listings from the first night of the voyage, which included Surrey Capon & Ox Tongue as a main course. A First-Class menu from the last night of the ship's journey sold for £76,000, reaching huge figures due to its date of April 14.

    A Marconi message from the Titanic reading: "WE HAVE STRUCK AN ICEBERG", sold for $27,500 at the New York auction.

    This chilling message was sent from the ship to R.M.S Olympic shortly after distress calls were sent out. The Olympic was 505 miles from the ship when the message was received.

    Titanic auctions have reached fever pitch due to this month's 100 year anniversary.

  • The top 5 most expensive items of Titanic memorabilia

    The set of Titanic Crow's Nest keys

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    April 15 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The tragedy, in which 1,522 people lost their lives, has remained a powerful part of our cultural fabric through films, books and television shows ever since.

    The market for historic Titanic memorabilia goes from strength to strength each year, and 2012 has recently seen numerous relics and artefacts sold at auction.

    Here we present a list of the five most expensive items ever sold.

    5) Master key for cabins E1-E42

    Edmund Stone was a First Class Steward on the Titanic, responsible for cabins E1 - E42. He lost his life in the disaster, but his memory lived on through the artefacts recovered from his body which were sent to his widow in Southampton.

    This collection of his personal affects was sold at auction in October 2008 through the U.K auction house Henry Aldridge and Son, specialists in Titanic memorabilia.

    His set of master keys for cabins E1 - E42 was purchased by a U.S collector for a price of £84,000.

    4) Last Titanic Lunch Menu

    In April 2012, a First-Class menu from the last lunch ever served on the Titanic was sold by Henry Aldridge and Son.

    The menu illustrated the luxury of the liner, offering 40 different options for the sitting. It survived in the handbag of Ruth Dodge, a First-Class passenger and wife of the prominent San Francisco banker Dr Washington Dodge, who survived the tragedy along with her son.

    Menus from the Titanic have proven highly popular with collectors and this example was particularly prized, as it bore the fateful date 'April 14'.

    It was sold for a record price of £76,000.

    Full story...

  • Auctions feeding interest in shipwreck

    By Randy Boswell - Windsor Star

    Relics from doomed ship hit the auction block on Wednesday in the biggest sale ever from 'Titanic'.

    There's a ghostly deck chair and a heart-wrenching locket, a poignant last letter to a young man's parents, a White Star Line candy dish and a massive hunk of the doomed vessel's hull - anything and everything with a genuine link to the world's most famous shipwreck catastrophe seems to be up for grabs in time for the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic's first and last voyage.

    But would-be buyers harbouring hopes of owning a piece of Titanic history might find their plans going the same way as the great luxury liner itself - lost in a sea of competitive bidders.

    And given the feverish interest in Titanic-themed auctions ahead of Saturday's centenary of the April 1912 tragedy, it may be the bank accounts of winning bidders that are ultimately headed for a shocking plunge.

    The biggest sale ever of Titanic relics is set to take place Wednesday in Richmond, VI., where more than 5,000 objects retrieved from the Atlantic Ocean seabed since the wreck's discovery in 1985 are to be auctioned by Guernsey's as a single collection - as ordered by a U.S. court - to preserve its historical integrity.

    "Titanic is slowly being consumed by iron-eating microbes on the sea floor and, at some point in the not-too-distant future, it will be only a memory," Premier Exhibitions and RMS Titanic Inc.'s Mark Sellers, chairman of the firms that controversially plucked objects from the wreck site and later toured them at commercial exhibits, said in announcing the sale earlier this year.

    "Many of the artifacts we've brought up from the site would have disintegrated and been lost forever had this company not risked life and limb, and spent millions of dollars and countless hours to raise and rehabilitate them using cutting-edge conservation techniques," Sellers said.

    "After all of these efforts, we have determined that the time has come for us to transfer ownership of this collection to a steward who is able to continue our efforts and will preserve and honour her legacy."

  • Is this the iceberg that sunk the Titanic ?

    Original unsigned vintage first generation photo of the Titanic wreck site, 5.25 x 3.5, taken aboard the Carpathia on the morning of April 16, 1912

    By Mike Schuler - gCaptain

    Auctioneers have unearthed an original photograph of the gigantic iceberg that sunk the Titanic nearly 100 years ago, or at least so they claim.

    The photo was taken just hours after the ship went down by a passenger aboard the RMS Carpathia, a Cunard Lines transatlantic liner made famous after rescuing over 700 survivors from their lifeboats.

    Now, whether or not the iceberg is the actual iceberg responsible for sinking the unsinkable can be debated, but how many massive icebergs were in the immediate vicinity of the scene and large enough to do the duty?  Judging from the photograph, not many.

    The photograph, along with other Titanic memorabilia, is being auctioned off on April 19th as part of RR Auction’s 100-Year Anniversary Titanic auction Bidding for the photo starts at $300.

  • Titanic band leader letter has $200,000 estimate ahead of auction

    Titanic Band letter

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    A letter from the leader of Titanic's band, which played on as the ship sank, is coming for auction in the US next month.

    Survivors in lifeboats are said to have recalled the band playing Nearer, My God, to Thee, before being swept into the icy waters.

    The letter, written by band leader Wallace Hartley to his parents in England, is dated April 10, 1914, five days before the ship sank in the Atlantic.

    "Just a line to say we have got away all right," it reads.

    "It's been a bit of a rush but I am just getting a little settled. This is a fine ship & there ought to be plenty of money on her.

    "We have a fine band & the boys seem very nice."

    It's expected to realise between $100,000-200,000 at an online auction ending on April 26.

    Hartley's body was found many weeks after the tragedy. More than 40,000 people lined the route of his cortege.

    Titanic artefacts have a strong history of performing well with collectors.

    A two-page handwritten letter written aboard RMS Titanic achieved $40,700 at a New York auction house earlier this month.

    The fascinating tale of the band is likely to push the price of this piece much higher.

    Full story...

  • Captain Scott photographs set for $63,400 Bonhams auction

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles


    Photographs of Captain Scott's tragic expedition to the south pole are set to auction at Bonhams in London later in the month.

    Herbert Ponting's documentation of the 1910-1913 expedition will go under the hammer on March 30 to mark the 99th anniversary of Captain Scott's death.

    An album of 68 images is expected to achieve around £40,000, in addition to a number of single photographs which have valuations ranging from £600 to £8,000.

    The photographs offer a haunting record of the expedition, which successfully reached the south pole, but some five weeks after Norwegian rival Amundsen.

    The five-man party failed to return, as frostbite, hunger and exhaustion overtook them. Ponting's photographs document 14 months at Cape Evans, between 1911 and 1912, where the expedition prepared for the march on the pole.

    He left the expedition in February 1912 along with eight others, as the rest of the party headed further south.


  • The Titanic up for auction

    RMS Titanic


    By Jessica Dickler - WPBF

    The most famous shipwreck of all time is on the auction block, including passengers' personal belongings and even salvage rights to the wreck site at the bottom of the North Atlantic Sea.

    The collection includes video footage of the ship and recovery effort, as well as more than 5,500 artifacts recovered from the wreck. The artifacts consist of fine china, silverware, clothing, diamond jewelry and other personal items, decorative items from the boat, and even pieces of the ship itself.

    The auction, near the shipwreck's centennial, marks the first time artifacts collected from the Titanic during salvage expeditions will be available for sale, although items gathered from the ocean surface or from survivors have been sold in the past -- for a pricey sum.

    In 2004, Guernsey's auctioned off memorabilia from the Titanic and a few artifacts that had been passed down through the families of survivors from the ship. An original menu sold for about $100,000, according to Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey's auction house in New York.

    All the artifacts and intellectual property in this auction will be sold as a single lot by Guernsey's.

    In a previous appraisal, the collection was valued at $189 million altogether. There will be a reserve, although it has not been disclosed, Ettinger said.

    Full story...

  • Salvaged Ming and Qing Dynasty porcelain from Chinese shipwreck

    Jason and Amanda Stout hold a porcelain vase with five false spouts that is an alleged Qing Dynasty artifact Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Garret Ellison - Mlive


    A little bit of Imperial China is up for grabs in West Michigan this week.

    Starting today, a collection of porcelain Ming and Qing Dynasty artifacts salvaged about 20 years ago from a shipwreck in the South China Sea is available for the public to view at Auction Michigan LLC in Wyoming.

    The seventeen pieces come from an unidentified, foreign-born collector who was present when they were brought up from the bottom, said Soneya O’Bryant, with Auction Michigan, located at 4393 Clay Ave. SW.

    The business, started in 2011, is owned by Jason Stount. This is its first fine art auction.

    Online bidding for the pottery collection began last week, but interested parties can view them at the auction house until Thursday, when the bidding closes.

    The pieces come from an unnamed shipwreck, said O’Bryant. The vessel was exporting porcelain and other goods during the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial Chinese dynasty which ruled from 1644 to 1911, immediately preceding the Republic of China.

    The pieces likely originated in Changnanzhen, later renamed Jindezheng — aka the "Porcelain Capital" — which has been a global center of pottery production for 1,700 years, said Peter L. Combs, an Asian art dealer in Gloucester, Mass., and past partner at Landry Auctions.

    Full story...

  • RMS Titanic rare manuscript sells in UK

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    A lot of buzz surrounds rare manuscripts from RMS Titanic at the moment. Recent sales have included the auctioning of two important letters in Oceanside, New York, US, on March 2.

    Now a UK auction house is following suit.

    Included in its April 4 auction is a letter written by Charles Morgan. Mr Morgan was from Birkenhead, UK, and worked aboard Titanic. But, like 1,157 of his fellow passengers, Charles didn't survive the sinking.

    His letter did, however. The note was among a cache of letters sent from RMS Titanic as she passed Queenstown in Ireland, today known as Cobh.

    As with the two letters mentioned above, Morgan's note is scribed on Titanic-headed paper.

    The note, written by 41-year-old Charles to his mother, is headed "April 11 near Queenstown". He writes: "We have had a nice run so far but have been terribly busy but it will be easier when we settle down."

    "There are about 1000 passengers 1st 2nd 3rd which is not too many for a ship like this she is simply magnificent."
    Tragically, Charles ends the letter with the words "Best love to everybody, Charlie ... Due back in Southampton 27th April."



  • Liverpool shipwreck bottle of wine may keep its secrets in auction

    By Peter Elson - Liverpool Daily Post

    A tantalising mystery surrounds a  bottle of wine about to be auctioned  after lying lost in the wreck of a  Liverpool liner for 121 years.

    If the bottle’s provenance as one of  the celebrated 1870s Chateau Latour  wines is proven, it would have a value  of about £15,000.

    But if not, it is likely to be sold for a  more sober £250, at the sale next  Wednesday. The bottle is one of 12 salvaged from  the wreck of the Liverpool & Great  Western Steam Navigation’s SS  Dakota.

    The Victorian liner set sail from   Liverpool for New York on a fine  evening on May 9, 1877.

    While sailing two miles off  Anglesey at 9.30pm, an officer’s  order to change direction was  misunderstood by Dakota’s  helmsman.
    Instead of turning right and  steaming further out to sea, the  helmsman turned left.

    Realising the blunder, the  ship was put full astern, but  hit East Mouse rocks, near  Amlwch.

    All 218 passengers and 109  crew safely reached shore, but  the ship, filled with 1,800 tons  of cargo, broke in two and was a total loss.

    The wreck lay on the  seabed undisturbed for  121 years, until the 12  bottles of wine were  salvaged in 1998.



  • Indonesian sunken treasure up for sale again

    This photo taken on April 30, 2010 shows ancient gold handle of a dagger with an Arabic inscription is displayed together with other gold jewelries and coins, garnet stones on a shell and other precious items at a showroom in south Jakarta

    From Jakarta Globe

    Ancient treasure worth an estimated $80 million dollars (Rp 733.9 billion) which was found in a ship that sank off Indonesia 1,000 years ago is up for sale again, the head of the excavation team said Monday.

    The “Cirebon treasure” was discovered in a wreck off the port of Cirebon on Indonesia’s Java island and contains about 250,000 precious objects, including crystal, pearls and gold.

    “(The haul) is certainly the largest ever found in Southeast Asia in terms of both quality and quantity,” Luc Heymans, the Belgian director of Cosmix Underwater Research Ltd., the Dubai-based firm that excavated the find, told AFP in an email.

    The treasure was recovered from the wreck of a merchant ship — nationality unknown — that dates back to about 960 A.D and was first spotted by Indonesian fishermen 187 feet under the sea.

    It took some 22,000 dives between April 2004 and October 2005 to excavate the find, which was privately funded under an agreement with Indonesian authorities.

    The treasure shows objects being traded between the Far and Middle East, including carved rock and crystal typical of the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt, Mesopotamian drinking glasses, pearls from the Gulf, bronze and gold from Malaysia and exquisite Chinese imperial porcelain.

    Full story...

  • Memorabilia from Titanic's rescue ship Carpathia set to impress at Bonhams

    An RMS Carpathia bronze medal (not the one for sale) in its original box

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    The Titanic's rescue ship yields its own memorabilia including a Carpathian crew member's medal.

    Just a few days ago we were reiterating how coveted Titanic collectibles are, and how excited bidders are likely to be at an upcoming auction which is offering a first class passenger's menu and a set of keys from the ship.
    That is not to be missed, and of course it is nearly 100 years since the fateful night when HMS Titanic struck the iceberg, that being on 14 April 1912. It resulted in the death of 1,157 passengers.

    But of course it isn't just items which were on board the Titanic itself which have value. In their upcoming Marine Sale, Bonhams is offering a series of collectibles relating to the RMS Carpathia - the ship which did a lot to prevent the disaster being even worse than it was.

    Shortly after midnight on the night of 14/15 April 1912, the Carpathia's Harold Cottam picked up a radio distress call and woke his Captain Arthur Rostron.

    The Carpathia arrived two hours after the Titanic sank and picked up many survivors. On arrival back in New York, the Officers and Crew of the Carpathia were awarded medals for their actions, including on which is offered in this sale, estimated at £2,000 - 3,000.

    Full story...

  • Profit or preservation ? Debate rages over Titanic treasures

    By Ty Steele - KVAL

    The Titanic captivated the world when it sank in 1912. And it’s continued to fascinate for generations.

    Now, $200 million-worth of Titanic treasures are up for auction April 15th—100 years to the day after the ship set sail.

    But as the centennial approaches, a Eugene archaeologist, said he strongly objects to the removal and auction of the artifacts from the ship.

    “I don’t think the site has been treated properly,” said archaeologist Richard Pettigrew, at his home office in Eugene on Friday.

    “It hasn’t been treated scientifically, or with the kind of respect that it should be treated with, and that’s why I’m objecting to it.”

    Pettigrew said for-profit removal of Titanic artifacts was flawed from the get-o.

    “Imagine a crime scene: when police arrive on the scene they section if off to prevent people from disturbing the evidence. Right ?” said Pettigrew, as he sat in his chair with a picture of the Titanic on his desk top computer behind him.

    “Well, that’s what an archaeology site is.”

    Pettigrew said scientists, archaeologists and historians should be in charge of the removal and preservation of artifacts from the Titanic site—not private companies.

    "The Titanic is in fact a grave site where more than 1,500 people died," he said. RMS Titanic Inc., the company collecting the artifacts since 1987, did not respond to KVAL’s request for comment.

    Full story...

  • Artefacts from wreck sold off

    From This Is Cornwall

    The original lifebelt from the shipwreck of the Flying Enterprise and the captain's life jacket have been sold at auction.

    The Second World War American Liberty ship was wrecked in late December, 1951, 42 miles off Falmouth.

    It remained afloat, although listing heavily, until January 10, 1952.

    It made headlines at the time when skipper Kurt Carlsen remained on board in a dramatic attempt to save the ship and tow it to safety.

    It was 500 miles off Fastnet Rock when a 30ft wave cracked the hull and knocked out the engines.

    A total of 40 crew and ten passengers jumped to safety and were picked up by SS Southland.

    Ken Darcy, mate of the tugboat Turmoil, jumped to the deck to attach a tow line and both men remained with the vessel for the 15 days of towing until it sunk, less than 50 miles from the safety of Falmouth.

    Full story...

  • RMS Titanic collectibles action marks Centenary of doomed ship's launch

    These 'RMS Titanic' silver plated cutlery pieces will boast unusual provenance

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    One hundred years have passed since the doomed launch of RMS Titanic.

    To mark the occasion, a UK auctioneer is offering collectors a chance to own exceptionally rare memorabilia artefacts and collectors' pieces in a sealed bid auction.

    Among the commemorative items for sale are a number of silver plated cutlery pieces.

    Each has been reproduced and hand-finished to the standards enjoyed by passengers in RMS Titanic's first class accommodation.

    These items are very limited and will auction in a presentation wooden canteen with a signed certificate of authenticity and a reserve price of £12,000.

    Why are they so expensive ? Well, the answer is as novel as it is unexpected...

    The auctioneer is teaming up with Deep Ocean Expeditions to submerge the silver plated cutlery pieces 2.5 miles beneath the ocean, to Titanic's final resting place.

    The pieces will then be brought back up to the surface and delivered to the winning bidder.

    It will be interesting to see if collectors are drawn to this unusual idea. Also for sale in the auction is a copy of the Daily Sketch tabloid newspaper first published on 16 April 1912.

    The issue recounts the sinking of RMS Titanic on her maiden voyage.

    These collectibles will undoubtedly prove of interest to some. But, if you're on the lookout for some high-end Titanic collectibles, Paul Fraser Collectibles recommends that you search for genuine items from RMS Titanic herself.

    The greater the story attached to the collectible, the better. Past RMS Titanic memorabilia sales have included the auctioning of the keys from Titanic's Crow's Nest - the very keys which could have helped save the ship from disaster.

    Full story...

  • Titanic diver Carl Spencer's rare memorabilia auction

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles


    Rare watches and memorabilia items from the estate of legendary UK deep sea diver Carl Spencer are auctioning in Birmingham, England on Monday 23 January.

    Walsall-born Spencer is well-remembered as a talented technical diver and for his dives during various famous expeditions. He lead a modest life which included his day job as a heating and air conditioning engineer.

    As Spencer himself used to tell people, he was "just a plumber from Cannock."

    Highlights in the sale include Spencer's Rolex Sea Dweller watch with an estimate of £3,000 - £4,000.

    Two limited edition Doxa diving watches will also be auctioned, each with an estimate of £1,000 - £1,500.

    One of Spencer's famous expeditions was in 2000. He joined the Bluebird project to locate and recover the body of the world water-speed record holder, Donald Campbell, from the waters of Coniston.

    A few years later, in 2003, Hollywood came knocking. Famous film director James Cameron asked Spencer to join his team to dive to the wreck of R.M.S Titanic (pictured top right) as part of a Discovery Channel expedition.



  • Sunken Treasure of 1622 Set for Philadelphia Auction

    An emerald ring found by the Fisher crew

    From Online.wjs

    The 1622 wreck of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a Spanish ship laden with New World gold, became the fixation of a chicken farmer turned deep-sea diver named Mel Fisher. He searched doggedly for the treasure for 16 years (and tragically lost his son and daughter-in-law when a salvage boat capsized during the search).

    In 1985, the Fisher team came upon a large portion of the wreckage. The treasure they've extracted since then is worth some $500 million, the Fishers say. A fraction of that is about to go under the hammer at a Philadelphia auction house.

    Three large silver bars, two small gold "finger" bars and one gold disc that went down with the Atocha will be featured in Freeman's Jan. 25 Fine English & Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts sale. (Items from the sale are on view at the auction house's Philadelphia headquarters starting Friday).

    The silver bars range in weight from 39 to 87-plus pounds, $15,000 to $45,000 in price. The gold is far lighter, ranging from four to 14.5 ounces at an estimated $8,000 to $30,000 apiece. The items were sold once before: In 1988, Christie's auctioned off part of the Atocha treasure, raising $2.6 million.

    In the early 1600s, the Spanish monarchy dispatched armadas regularly to stock up on gold, silver and gems from the Americas to help fund its army. The Atocha was one of several ships that fell prey to Caribbean hurricanes en route home from Cuba and sank off what would become Key West, Fla. On the Atocha, 260 people drowned and about 70 tons of treasure were lost. (The other ship, the Santa Margarita, ran aground.)

    Mel Fisher's heirs have stayed in the family business and continue to mine the Atocha wreck and several others. Two Florida museums, the Mel Fisher Center and Museum in Sebastian and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, always have Atocha objects on display. In June, the Fisher crew came ashore with an emerald ring that Mel Fisher's grandson Sean says was recently appraised at $1.2 million.

    Full story...

  • Titanic artifacts set to go up for auction

    A woman examines the Titanic's crows nest bell in an exhibition of artifacts recovered from the wreck of the Titanic on November 3, 2010 in London

    By Chris Isidore 

    The owner of more than 5,000 artifacts recovered from the Titanic intends to auction them off in April on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the famous ship.

    But don't expect to be able to bid on any one item from the ship. The artifacts will only be sold as a single lot, according to a filing by Premier Exhibitions (PRXI), an Atlanta-based company that now exhibits the artifacts at various locations around the world.

    Premier Exhibitions, the owner of the artifacts which disclosed the sale plans in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, was not available for comment Thursday.

    Its New York auction house, Guernsey's, did not have a comment. 

    The filing from Premier said that the collection had an appraised value in 2007 of $189 million. It said it has added to its collection since that time.

    Full story...

  • Deep rift over Titanic treasure

    A china cup from the first-class section of the Titanic, part of a collection that has been kept in a secret hiding place in Atlanta, Georgia. This and other items from the wreck are

    By Rhys Blakely - The Australian

    A planned auction of Titanic treasures could finally settle the matter of who owns the fortune yielded by history's most beguiling wreck.

    More than 5500 items would be offered in one single lot, according to plans submitted to US stock market regulators. The items on sale would range from jewels and fine china to a 15-tonne portion of hull.

    In 2007 the collection was valued at $US189 million and some have claimed that artefacts worth billions remain on the seabed. For years, however, the treasures have been at the centre of a legal storm and the fate of the latest planned sale now rests in the hands of a US judge.

    The auction would coincide with the centenary on April 12 of the sinking of the "unsinkable" Belfast-built steamship, an event that has cast a morbid spell on generations. The anniversary will be marked by the screening of a 3D version of James Cameron's Oscar-winning film and a big-budget ITV drama by Julian Fellowes, the writer of Downton Abbey. There will be festivals on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Investors in RMS Titanic, the company that acquired the salvage rights in 1994, have squabbled over how to maximise returns from the public's fascination with a wreck that has spawned at least 17 movies, 18 documentaries and 130 books.

    In 2002, the salvagers had wanted to sell more than 1000 small items, such as recovered toiletries, to help recoup expenses running into tens of millions of dollars. Instead, after a US court stymied the scheme, they were reduced to flogging recovered lumps of coal, which are not considered artefacts under law, for $US25 each.

    A fresh set of court judgments means that new auction plans stand a chance. If the sale goes ahead, buyers will be offered a trove amassed during seven trips to a site about 4km under the North Atlantic.

    The recovered treasures have formed an exhibition that has been viewed by more than 20 million people worldwide. The show is currently at the giant Luxor casino in Las Vegas, where visitors pay $US28 each to view items ranging from soap dishes and spittoons to passenger papers and decorative sections from Titanic's famous Grand Staircase. The crown jewel of the collection is regarded to be the so-called "Big Piece" - a section of hull that weighs 15 tonnes and is more than 9m long.

    Full story...

  • New Orleans Auction to offer gold relics from shipwreck

    From Auction House PR 


    On September 4, 1622, two Spanish fleets set sail from Havana harbor under the command of Marquis de Caderieita, their holds laden with the richesse of the New World. The first fleet (or “flota”), the Tierra Firma, had picked up treasures at Columbia, Panama and other ports in South America.

    The other, the New Spain flota, had collected its cargo along the coast of Mexico.

    The two convoys gathered in Cuba to make the return trip together, accompanied by heavily armed warships to protect the fleet against pirates and privateers.

    Bad weather and other problems delayed their planned July 1st departure until late in the season.

    The 28 ships started on their usual route: through the Florida Straits, up the east coast of Florida to the latitude of Bermuda, then eastward home. Barely one day out, however, on September 6th in the Straits of Florida, disaster struck in the form of a massive hurricane.

    The ferocious storm scattered the fleet, capsizing some ships, slamming others into the Keys.

    Three galleons, five merchant naos and one patache were lost on the Keys, with two (or three) others lost in deeper waters.>

    When news of the disaster reached Spain, authorities sent another five ships to Florida in attempt to salvage two of the galleons, the Atocha and the Santa Margarita. Over a period of about 10 years, Spain was able to recover about half the treasure of the Santa Margarita, which was in shallow enough water to allow some salvage by breath-holding divers.

    Recovery from the Atocha, which had sunk in 55 feet, proved more difficult, and the rest - those private vessels lost in the deep waters of the Keys -were considered lost forever.

    In the late 1960s, shrimpers working around the Dry Tortugas brought up in their nets a large ceramic amphora, later identified as a colonial-era Spanish olive jar.

    The location of the site was noted, but once again the cost of recovery at such a depth – 1300 feet - made futher exploration impractical. Not soon after, treasure hunter Mel Fisher (1922-1998) began his 16-year search for the Atocha, which he discovered on July 20, 1985 on the coral reefs 35 miles from Key West.

    The salvage produced a staggering amount of treasure: 40 tons of gold and silver bars, over 100,000 gold coins and precious Muzo emeralds. The discovery prompted a surge of interest in shipwreck salvage and advancements in the technology of deep-water recovery.

    The olive jar dredged up in the '60s was remembered, and on June 6, 1989, about 50 miles southwest of the Atocha site, an 83-foot, 190-ton deep-sea diving research vessel, the R.V. Seahawk (a one-time shrimp boat seized by the Coast Guard and sold in 1987 for $50,000 to ad and P.R. man Greg Stemm), used its video- and sonar-equipped unmanned Phantom DHD2 remotely-operated recovery vehicle to retrieve a 4.1 kilogram bronze bell from the ocean floor.

    It was labeled artifact number 89-1A-00001 and enabled Stemm and his partner John C. Morris to establish an admiralty claim for the site and allow their company, Seahawk Deep Ocean Technology Inc. (which went public in 1991), to begin salvaging the wreck, now called the 'Dry Tortugas.'


  • Titanic letter and archive will 'go under' the hammer at Philip Weiss

    The Snyder letter on RMS Titanic paper

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    John and Nelle Snyder survived the Titanic tragedy and held an archive of material including letters.

    We've commented before on our blog about the unique allure of collectibles returned from the sea, and of course no greater draw than memorabilia connected with the more famous sinking of all time, RMS Titanic.

    Now in their Transportation, Aviation, Maritime, Military & Posters, Philip Weiss Auctions is offering a range of Titanic memorabilia as a key part.

    This is a part of the Maritime and Nautical Material section from the Bushnell Estate with Additions including an incredible Titanic archive directly from a family member of John & Nelle Pillsbury Snyder who were rescued when the Titanic sunk.

    The archive includes a letter on Titanic stationary dated April 10, 1912, photos of the Snyders, another letter dated April 18th which tells of the confusion from news sources and the White Star Line at the time of the sinking.

    "Here we are again both safe and sound" wrote John Snyder to his father, "I can only tell you that I have a mighty fine wife and she is the one you must thank - besides our Lord" and later "We were both asleep when the boat hit.

    "... When we reached the top deck only a few people were about and we all were told to go down & put on our life belts"...

    Then there is a group of original photos taken from the Carpathia showing lifeboats rowing towards the Carpathia and other original photos of what appears to be the Californian steaming towards the Carpathia.

    Full story...

  • Sedwick Treasure and World Coin Auction #10 Opens for Bidding

    Brazil, Serro Frio gold ingot

    By Daniel Frank Sedwick - Coin News

    The coin lots for this auction will be available for viewing at the A.N.A.’s National Money Show in Pittsburgh, PA, October 13-15, with private viewing at Sedwick’s office in Winter Park (by appointment only) before and after the show.

    Of the 1400+ lots in Sedwick’s latest auction, more than 240 lots are gold coins from around the world. Over 100 of these are gold cobs, most of them comprising The Santa Fe Collection of dated Bogotá cob 2 escudos, a landmark reference collection of over 50 different dates, showing changes of styles and assayers over the 130 years of their production, including several "first and finest knowns."

    "The Santa Fe Collection was carefully formed within the past decade with an emphasis on clearly visible dates," says firm owner Daniel Sedwick. "Misreading partial dates has created much confusion in this series, which this educational collection will serve to clear up."

    But the single most important gold item in the sale is a Brazilian gold monetized ingot of 1832, cast at the Serro Frio foundry under Emperor Pedro II, a very late and exceptionally rare example with its original foundry certificate (known as a guia).

    "Every time one of these Brazilian ingots comes up for sale it is a major numismatic event, and ours has reason to be even more so," says Sedwick’s assistant Agustín (Augi) García, emphasizing that less than 10% of the known ingots still have their original guias.

    Other significant pieces of gold in the auction include: a gold bar from the "Tumbaga" wreck (ca. 1528), one of only a handful known, cast from the first spoils of New World conquest; a high-grade emerald cross from the Spanish 1715 Fleet; a filigree devotional scapular from a ca.-1800 wreck (unidentified); and the ornate gold ring embedded in debris from the Spanish 1733 Fleet that was featured on the cover of Flash of Gold, a classic treasure-huntingbook written by Marty Meylach in 1971.

    Full story...

  • Letters about RMS Titanic sinking will cross the auction block in New York

    Historically significant archive of material pertaining to the doomed ocean liner Titanic

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles


    A historically significant, museum-quality archive of material pertaining to the doomed ocean liner the RMS Titanic will be offered on the first day of a three-day multi-estate sale planned for October 21-23 by Philip Weiss Auctions.

    The event will be held in the firm's gallery facility in Oceanside, New York.

    "It's rare when anything Titanic-related comes on the market, and when it does it's often a minor item," said Philip Weiss of Philip Weiss Auctions.

    "But this is an incredible archive that came to us directly from a descendant of John and Nelle Pillsbury Snyder, who were rescued when the Titanic sank on the morning of April 15, 1912. This is sure to generate great interest."

    Included in the archive is a letter written on Titanic stationery (and dated April 10, five days before the sinking); another letter, dated April 18, that talks about the confusion from news sources and the White Star Line (which built the Titanic) at the time of the sinking; and original photos taken from the rescue ship the Carpathia, showing lifeboats headed towards survivors.

    Also included will be a group of possibly the only photos in existence of the steamship Californian, shown sailing toward the Carpathia in a belated rescue effort.

    An inquiry at the time revealed the Californian was actually closer to the Titanic than the Carpathia, and even saw the rocket flares indicating a ship in distress, but for a variety of reasons it was slow to respond.

    Full story...

  • A 104-year-old biscuit from Ernest Shackleton

    Ernest Shackleton

    By Alasdair Wilkins - IO9

    Ernest Shackleton earned his place in history as the leader of the ill-fated Endurance expedition, when he braved 920 miles of Antarctic waters to save his stranded crew. Now, for just $2500, you can commemorate Shackleton's heroic biscuit form.

    Below you can see a biscuit - or, as we uncouth Americans would more likely call it, cracker - from Shackleton's 1907 Nimrod expedition. Shackleton (who is second from the left in the photo up top) undertook three expeditions to the South Pole.

    Considering he died of a heart attack during the third expedition and the second expedition was abruptly cut short when the Endurance got trapped in pack ice - albeit with no loss of life, thanks to Shackleton's incredible journey to find help - the first expedition really has to be considered his most successful foray to the South Pole, if only by default

    Indeed, while the Nimrod Expedition didn't feature the raw awesome of taking a lifeboat 920 miles over stormy freezing seas and then climbing through uncharted mountain terrain to find help and save his men, it still accomplished plenty.

    On this 1907 expedition, Shackleton made it to within 112 miles of the South Pole, by far the closest approach until Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott finally made it all the way there a few years later. The Nimrod expedition also carried out extensive scientific research and managed the first successful of Antartica's second highest volcano, Mount Erebus.

    And the biscuit you can see on the left is a perfectly preserved relic of the Nimrod Expedition. Made by Huntley & Palmers, the foodstuff was meant to provide energy and protein. It was far from a delicacy - it likely didn't have much taste to it at all - but it was an effective, if imperfect means of keeping these early Antarctic explorers going.

    Thanks to the cold, dry Antarctic climate, this particular biscuit was found perfectly preserved in the hut at Cape Royds, which served as Shackleton's base of operations during the Nimrod Expedition.

    Full story...


  • Painting of lost Arctic vessel sold for $60,000 at auction

    Painting by 19th-century Royal Navy artist and expedition commander George Back showing HMS Terror alongside an iceberg near Baffin Island in July 1836. The painting was sold Tuesday to an unidentified Canadian institution for nearly $60,000

    By Randy Boswell - Vancouver Sun

    Although the Canadian government failed to find the sunken HMS Terror during its high-profile search last month for the fabled Arctic shipwreck, an unidentified Canadian institution has secured an impressive consolation prize for the country: a historically significant and long-forgotten painting of the vessel that was auctioned this week in Britain.

    A 175-year-old watercolour depiction of the ship, painted by the 19th-century artist and Arctic explorer George Back when he was commanding HMS Terror in 1836, sold at a Bonhams art auction on Tuesday to an unnamed Canadian museum or gallery for nearly $60,000 — more than double the expected price.

    The picture shows the ship alongside an enormous iceberg in waters off Baffin Island, with one of Terror's lifeboats being rowed in the foreground close to a group of walruses.

    Back's sketches and paintings of scenes observed during several 19th-century British expeditions to the Canadian Arctic are among the most important sets of visual documents of the country's early history.

    The painting of the Terror emerged recently from a British family of Back's descendants, and experts were not previously aware of its existence.

    A Bonhams spokesperson told Postmedia News that the painting was purchased for $58,000 by "a Canadian institution" at the firm's maritime art sale in London.

    The painting had been expected to sell for between $15,000 and $25,000.

    HMS Terror and its sister ship, HMS Erebus, have been in the news this summer because of a Parks Canada-led search for the wrecks of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition.

  • Unique Harris & Marchand Bar from S.S. Central America

    Gold for sale !

    By Stacks Bowers

    The finding of treasure is everyone’s dream. However, treasure is elusive. Of the many thousands of ships that have been lost in the world’s lakes, rivers, and oceans, those few that have been recovered nearly all have lacked rare coins of significance.

    The most important treasure ever found was that of the S.S. Central America.

    Lost in the Atlantic on September 12, 1857, the ship went down with several hundred passengers and a king’s ransom in United States gold coins and ingots from the Gold Rush, in an era in which gold was valued at $20.67 per ounce. No greater or more important American numismatic treasure will ever be found, as no greater treasure was ever lost !

    In the 1980s the wreck of the S.S. Central America was located in 7,200 feet of water off the coast of North Carolina and recovered by the Columbus-America Discovery Group. Most national treasures cannot be owned.

    There is only one Star Spangled Banner, and it is in the Smithsonian Institution. There is only one Declaration of Independence, and it is in the National Archives.

    While many historical artifacts, accessories, ship components, and other items recovered from the S.S. Central America have been preserved for study by institutions and others, over 5,000 freshly minted 1857-S double eagles, over 500 gold ingots from Gold Rush assayers, and other coins were made available for public purchase by collectors, investors and museums from around the world beginning in 1999. A national treasure to be shared!

    One very important example, a unique Harris & Marchand bar attributed to Marysville, California, with a special double stamping of the “all seeing eye” hallmark, was initially purchased by a knowledgeable collector as “first pick” from the entire treasure.

    The Harris & Marchand ingots remain among the rarest recovered, with only 37 known in total and ONLY ONE from the Marysville office, making this giant gold brick a significant and important rarity. This impressive ingot has been in private hands since that time.

    Full story...

  • 'Mutiny on the Bounty' captain's medals are set for $273,000 auction

    Captain Bligh's Naval Gold Medal could make $218,000

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    Two medals awarded to Captain Bligh, who survived the 1789 mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty, are coming to auction this week.

    The medals, which postdate the mutiny, are estimated to achieve a combined $273,000 when they appear at Noble Numismatics in Melbourne, Australia on Thursday, July 28.

    The first, estimated to make $55,000, was awarded to Bligh by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce for successfully bringing back breadfruit from Tahiti in 1794.

    The second, known as a Naval Gold Medal 1795, was awarded following Bligh's successful 1797 Battle of Camperdown against the Dutch. It has a $218,000 estimate.

    The medal features an inscription which reads: "William Bligh esquire the Dutch fleet defeated".

    The fame attached to Bligh, who managed to return to England via Timor after he and several others had been set adrift in the Pacific Ocean by 18 mutinous crew members, should ensure that these medals from his later career are valued highly by collectors.

    "You'll never see the likes of the Bligh medals again. They're so historical," a spokesman for Noble Numismatics said.

    "He's one of the most famous sea captains in history and I doubt there would be many other gold medals around from that period."



  • 200-year-old shipwreck bubbly sold for 'record' price

    A special box was made for the Veuve Clicquot bottle

    BBC News

    A bottle of nearly 200-year-old champagne has been sold for 30,000 euros ($43,900; £26,700) at an auction in Finland - in what is believed to be a new world record.

    The Veuve Clicquot bubbly was bought by an anonymous bidder from Singapore, auctioneers in Mariehamn said.

    The same buyer paid 24,000 euros for another bottle of champagne, which was made by the now defunct Juglar house.

    They were found in a shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea last year.

    In all, more than 140 bottles were discovered by divers, and the wine is said to be in "exquisite" condition.

    Friday's auction at Acker Merrall & Conditt took place in Mariehamn, the capital of the autonomous Aaland Islands between Finland and Sweden, near to the place where the bottles were found.

    "This is an emotional bottle, because this is the wine of Madame Clicquot herself," Veuve Clicquot historian Fabienne Moreau told the AFP news agency, referring to Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin - the woman who ran the famous house in the 19th Century.

    Experts believe that the booty from the shipwreck dates from about 1825-1830.

    The auctioneers said the previous record was set in 2008, when a bottle of 1959 Dom Perignon Rose sold for 27,600 euros. This has not been independently confirmed.

    However, Mr Moreau, who had sampled the champagne, said the price "proves the value of the wine and the prestige of the house".

    Full story...

  • World Record $366,000 Titanic plan marks doomed ship’s 100th anniversary

    No second or third class passengers were asked to attend the inquest

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    Commemorative events are taking place in Belfast today to mark the 100th anniversary of RMS Titanic's launch. The ship left Harland & Wolff shipyard on May 31 1911, 11 months before its fatal maiden voyage.

    Meanwhile, a plan of the Titanic used in the inquest into its sinking sold for £220,000 at a nicely-timed auction over the weekend...

    The document brought well above its £150,000 estimate and a World Record price for a Titanic artefact at auction - evidence, if any were needed, that the tale of the Titanic continues to enthrall alternative investors.

    The 33-foot long technical drawing is marked with arrows and notes, depicting where survivors of the disaster thought the iceberg had struck.

    It was used during the British Board of Trade's 36-day inquiry between May and July 1912, which took place just weeks after the disaster.

    Ninety-six witnesses were called to the investigation, including crew members and maritime experts. It concluded that excessive speed was to blame for the disaster.

    Only three passengers were questioned - all of them first class travellers.

    Alan Aldridge of auctioneer Henry Aldridge & Son commented: "The plan is one of the most important pieces of Titanic memorabilia ever sold and this price reflects it."

    Full story...

  • Bottoms up ! 170-year-old bottle of bubbly could fetch $70,000 at auction


    By Lesley Ciarula Taylor - The Star

    The best thing the winning bidders for two bottles of the world’s oldest champagne can do is pop the cork and drink it.

    Sheltered 50 metres deep in a shipwreck in the chilly, dark Baltic Sea for nearly two centuries, the 170-year-old champagne is still in perfect condition, auctioneer John Kapon told the Star on Monday from Estonia en route to tiny Mariehamn, the capital of the Aland islands.

    Likely destined for the Imperial Court of Tsar Nicholas I in St. Petersburg, Russia, the liquid history could still conjure up the very different tastes of the early 19th century, said Rainer Juslin, Permanent Secretary of the Government of Aland Department of Education and Culture and host of Friday’s auction.

    “It is quite different from the modern product, but characteristic of the times,” he said. “More like a dessert wine, much more yellow coloured. Very sweet, but still very good.”

    But it won’t last.

    “The champagne after a couple of years will be destroyed,” explained Juslin,

    “It was produced to drink.”

    Juslin was among the select few who had a taste from one of the 145 bottles discovered and brought up last year from the shipwreck.

    The bubbly remains “phenomenally youthful,” said Kapon, who represents the auction house Acker Merrall & Condit, one of the oldest wine auction houses in the world.

    Pronounced still fresh and ready to savour by Swedish champagne expert Richard Juhlin, the two bottles represent the defunct Champagne house Juglar and the still-thriving Veuve Clicquot, which is a partner in the auction and will bring some of its own rare vintages to the block.

    Investigators are still trying to pinpoint the history of the wreck, a two-masted schooner that likely sank in one of the Baltic’s ferocious storms in the early 1840s. Plates found on board date from the Rorstrands porcelain factory between 1780 and 1830.

    Full story...

  • Titanic captain's $40,000 cigar box beats estimate at Liverpool auction

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    The power of Titanic collectibles is again in evidence, this time at Cato Crane.

    A cigar box that once belonged to the captain of the Titanic has sold for £25,000 in Liverpool. Bearing the mark of the White Star Line shipping company and the initials of captain Edward John Smith, the box far surpassed its £20,000 high end estimate at Cato Crane Auctioneers.

    The walnut box incorporates a cigar cutter and locking mechanism.

    It is unknown how it made its return to the UK. Captain Smith went down with his ship on the fateful voyage in April 1912, just six days after guiding it out of Southampton docks.


  • Valuable Titanic memorabilia washes up at Heritage

    Once invaluable, now $12,000-18,000 - RMS Titanic lifebelt

    From Paul Fraser collectibles

    A fragment from the hull of the doomed vessel and a pair of Titanic lifebelts are up for sale

    An actual 7 x 4 inch section from the hull of the doomed ship R.M.S. Titanic, modern history's most famous shipwreck - consigned by famous author, Hollywood consultant and deep sea archeologist Charles Pellegrino - is expected to bring $4,000+ as part of Heritage Auctions' May 21 Americana & Political Memorabilia event. A minimum of 10% from proceeds will be donated to the Firefighter's Burn Centre.

    "This is the first time these relics have ever been offered," said Tom Slater, Heritage's Director of Americana, "Pellegrino, one of the world's foremost experts on the doomed ship, has chosen now to share this treasure with the world, and we expect that collectors will be clamoring for a chance to make this theirs."

    The actual wreck of the Titanic is, of course, strictly protected, making portions of the ship itself virtually unavailable in the private market (and a strong investment).

    This section, however, was part of the "crackage" of the great boat, which sheared away from the vessel as it broke in half, and was recovered from the ocean floor some distance from the wreck.

    A semicircular depression in one corner of the piece is evidence of the force with which the ship cracked, sufficient to pop a rivet completely away from the hull. It has become essentially fossilized after the bio-absorption.

    Also included in Pellegrino's consignment is a fossil impression of rope from H. M.S. Titanic measuring 1.5" x 2", in which original rope strands became imbedded, found inside rusticle formations growing around the davit bit (the rib or buttress-like appendage from which lifeboats were suspended) that was used to lower the #8 lifeboat, expected to bring $4,000+, along with a 2.5" sample from the railing of the Titanic's "#8 Lifeboat" davit, also estimated at $4,000+.

    A minimum of 10% of the proceeds of these lots will also be donated to the Firefighter's Burn Centre.

    "The #8 Lifeboat railing is particularly significant," said Slater. "The Titanic's band played near this location and this is also where Mrs. Isador Strauss gave her maid, Ellen Bird, her fur coat, saying she would not be needing it, then stepping away from the boat and joining her husband behind the rail saying, 'Where you go, I go.'"


  • 'World's oldest champagne' to be sold at June auction

    From Google News

    Two bottles of 200-year old champagne recently salvaged from a Baltic Sea shipwreck will be auctioned off in June, the local government that owns the bubbly said Wednesday.

    Finland's autonomous province of Aaland "has decided that two bottles will be sold at an exclusive champagne auction held in (the capital) Mariehamn on June 3, 2011," it said a statement.

    One of the auctioned bottles will be from the house of Veuve-Clicquot and the other from the now extinct house of Juglar.

    They are part of a batch of around 150 champagne bottles divers stumbled upon last July in a two-masted schooner which had run aground sometime between 1825 and 1830.

    Salvaging of bottles -- preserved in ideal conditions at the bottom of the Baltic Sea -- began in August and authorities identified the bottles as the world's oldest Juglar and Veuve Clicquot brands.

    In January, they announced Heidsieck champagne bottles were also in the lot.

    "These bottles are unparalleled in the market. You can only speculate on what the end price will be, but it will probably be at record levels," champagne expert Richard Juhlin said in the statement.

    In November, when the champagne was uncorked for the world's media and wine experts to taste, Juhlin told AFP that either bottle could fetch 100,000 euros ($144,925).

    "Ah!" he had let out in appreciation when tasting the two-century-old bubbly, describing the Juglar as "more intense and powerful, mushroomy," and the Veuve-Clicquot as more like Chardonnay, with notes of "linden blossoms and lime peels".

    Aaland officials announced at the tasting event the province would auction off one bottle of each make, but no date had been made public until now.

    The designated auction house is Acker Merall and Condit.

    The Aaland archipelago at the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia belongs to Finland, though it enjoys autonomy from Helsinki and locals speak Swedish.

  • “Et Tu Brute” Coin … And Money From Deepest Known Wreck Site

    Roman consul, Brutus, in center, standing left, accompanied by two lictors, each with sceptres or baton over shoulder. Rev: no legend, eagle standing left on sceptre, wings open, raising wreath in left foot

    From Time Line Auctions Limited

    A gold stater struck by Brutus, one of Julius Caesar’s infamous assassins, together with two Spanish pieces-of-eight recovered from the world’s deepest known wreck site, are among more than 250 coin lots in Time Line Auction’s London sale scheduled for Friday, March 18th at the prestigious Swedenborg Hall, Bloomsbury, just around the corner from the British Museum.

    Brutus issued the stater, which depicts him standing with two of his officers, when he was Roman consul in Thrace in the mid-1st century BC. The reverse shows an eagle holding a wreath in its clawed foot.

    The silver pieces-of-eight came to light during a search in 1992 for the US space capsule, Liberty Bell 7, which sank in a sea test during which space pilot Gus Grissom almost died.

    An unidentified anomaly at a depth of 16,300 feet turned out not to be the space capsule but a wooden sailing ship.

    Exploring the wreckage with a robot arm, salvors discovered a chest containing more than 1300 pieces-of-eight and a small ornate box containing gold coins that had been wrapped in a newspaper dated August 6, 1809.


  • Antique egg cups linked to the Titanic go under the hammer

    White Star Line egg cups

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    Collectors of unique memorabilia from the White Star Line should look to Cuttlestones next month.

    Staffordshire (UK) auction house Cuttlestones' ongoing success is seeing the firm attract lots from across the country. The firm's next Fine Art Sale, set to take place on Friday 4th March, is no exception - and one lot in particular has travelled a considerable distance to be sold at the auction house.

    A set of four rare egg cups branded for the famed cruise line 'The White Star Line', which counted the ill-fated Titanic among its fleet, has been consigned by vendors from Southampton.

    The reason they chose Cuttlestones rather than a more local auction house is down to Cuttlestones' previous success with a range of White Star Line items, including a set of six cups that fetched just under £1,000 ($1,600) in the March 2010 Fine Art Sale.

    The egg cups are a far rarer - and potentially more valuable - proposition. One of the egg cups carries a date stamp for 1912, the year the Titanic sank, and another is stamped for 1908.

    As with the cups, this lot is expected to draw interest from a range of collectors including White Star Line and Titanic specialists in addition to those with a general interest in items from the 'golden age' of cruising.


  • Ocean Liner memorabilia steams ahead at Swann Auction Galleries


    From Paul Fraser Collectibles 

    Featuring the Kristin Johnson Collection, there are some excellent posters and photographs on offer.

    Swann Auction Galleries' sale of Ocean Liner & Transportation Memorabilia begins tomorrow, Thursday Febuary 3rd.

    Featuring the Kristin Johnson Collection the auction is highlighted by collectibles from the opening voyages of the Normandie French line.

    Firstly, there is an official certificate given to maiden voyage passengers, this particular copy given to Marcel Olivier, Gouverneur Général of the French Line, after the blue riband winning westward crossing to New York in a magnificent mat and frame.

    This is truly a choice piece of "Normandie" memorabilia and estimated at $5,000-7,500.

    Secondly, there is a Paquebot "Normandie" Compagnie Generale Transatlantique which is a superb company-issued photo album containing 37 wonderful photos by Byron.

    Containing four full portraits of the ship in New York, two views of the engine room, one view of the wireless room, one view of the hospital, one view of the bakery, one view of the kennel, and the remaining are interior views of public rooms and accommodations in first, cabin, and tourist classes, including three photos of the deluxe suites "Deauville" and "Rouen."


  • Chinese porcelain recovered from sea bed on sale

    Teksing porcelains

    From This Is Douth Devon

    A treasure trove of Chinese porcelain, which lay on the sea bed for more than 100 years after a Titanic-scale shipwreck, is going on sale in Dartington.

    A total of 350,000 items of porcelain were snapped up at a Stuttgart auction ten years ago by a businessman who lives in the Buckfastleigh area and refuses to reveal his identity.

    Now he is planning to put part of the unique collection on sale through the former Cider Press Centre at Dartington — recently re-named The Shops at Dartington.

    The porcelain collection consisting of bowls, plates, saucers, carafes, tea bowls and trinket boxes went on sale at the Home Bazaar shop on Saturday with prices ranging from £45 to £175 per item.

    The sale is set to continue until the end of January.

    The centre's managing director, Barbara King, explained: "We were offered the unusual opportunity to exhibit and sell these beautiful and very collectable antiques and we jumped at the chance.

    "They're a perfect fit for our Home Bazaar store and will make a fantastic Christmas gift."

    The collection of porcelain was on board the huge merchant sailing junk Tek Sing (meaning True Star) in 1822 when the ship ran aground on the Belvedere Shoals in the South China Sea.

    Only 208 people out of the 1,600 on board survived — earning the wreck the title of the Titanic of the East.

    A large cargo of silk and tea went to the bottom along with the porcelain.

    In May 1999, the wreck was discovered by British marine salvor Mike Hatcher and much of the cargo was recovered and later described as the largest sunken cache of Chinese porcelain ever recovered.

    Remarkably, much of the delicate porcelain remained in perfect condition and it was put up for auction in Germany in 2000. A large portion of the recovered porcelain was bought by the Buckfastleigh businessman for an undisclosed price.

    The Tek Sing was a huge ship for her time and weighed more than 1,000 tonnes but when she set sail with her cargo of porcelain she was so overloaded that sections of cargo had been strapped to the outside of her hull.

    Also on board were 1,600 Chinese emigrants heading for a new life in the sugar plantations of Java. Disaster struck when the captain decided to take a short cut through the Gaspar Straits and hit a reef.


    Other link to check

  • £76,000 for a gold coin celebrating a great British victory

    From Paul Fraser Collectibles 

    Dating from Queen Anne's reign, the piece was struck from captured French & Spanish bullion

    Just over a week ago, Baldwin's assisted St James's Auctions in their coin sale with some very successful results, especially in British gold coins.

    It was surprising that Baldwin's had taken the time to be involved, as they had just carried out a two day auction consisting of the last section of The Michael Hall collection of medals and a more standard Ancient, English & World Coins, Commemorative Medals & Orders, Decorations & Medals sale.

    Between them, the two sales offered 2,324 lots. Three stand-out lots were:

    A gold triple unite coin from the reign of Charles I from the Oxford Mint, 1644. Regular readers may remember that there was a Charles I triple unite coin in the St James auction too which also performed well (the basic design is the same, but there are clear differences to the careful eye).

    The coin, displaying a crowned and armoured half-length portrait of the King, left-facing, holding an upright sword in his right hand and a laurel branch in his left has an attractive red tone and achieved £62,000 against a £50,000 estimate.

    A remember that Russian coin collecting is in rude health came in the form of a gold 37½-Roubles coin from the doomed reign of the last Tsar, Nicholas II.

    With light hairlines and marks, but otherwise extremely fine and rare, the piece was pushed up by excited bidders to double its £25,000 estimate, selling for £50,000 exactly.

    However the top lot was a 1703 gold 5 Sovereign piece from the reign of Queen Anne, specifically from the famed Vigo run.

    These were coined from gold captured by Admiral Sir George Rooke from a Franco-Spanish bullion fleet sheltering at Vigo Bay on 12 October 1702.



  • Edmund Fitzgerald artifacts on auction block

    The wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald

    By Peter Passi - Duluth News Tribune

    Collectors of Great Lakes maritime artifacts may want to set their sights on an auction house in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood this afternoon.

    Several items from lakers, including some that appear to be from the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald, will go on the block today at Col. Brent Loberg’s Sellers Auction, 2103½ W. Third St. Loberg is quick to note that he’s not a colonel in the military sense, but wears the title in the tradition of accredited auctioneers across the nation.

    The weekly multifaceted auction begins at 4:30 p.m. and probably will last about four hours. Loberg estimates he’ll get to the shipping paraphernalia about 6:30 p.m.

    The auction features four paddles apparently from a life raft belonging to the Edmund Fitzgerald; an embroidered ship blanket that purportedly belonged to a cook who had to sit out the oreboat’s final voyage because of a fortuitous illness; as well as several clips and photos documenting the vessel’s tragic demise Nov. 10, 1975.

    Loberg said the items came to him by way of the family of a man who worked at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, where the Edmund Fitzgerald was refitted during the 1960s. The family asked Loberg not to release their identity.


  • Back from the depths... The RMS Titanic Collection

    A Third Class Menu from the Titanic

    From Paul Fraser

    Collectibles related to the disaster are greatly coveted, and many are now part of a travelling exhibition

    The RMS Titanic was the largest passenger ship in the world when it set out on its maiden voyage in April 1912. With advanced measures built into the vessel to keep it afloat in the teeth of any eventuality, its sinking caused astonishment and horror round the world.

    The event has passed into public consciousness, and whilst it is no longer in living memory the story of the Titanic holds a continuing fascination for many - not hindered by the multiple Oscar-winning Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet film.

    This fascination can be seen in the tremendous influence the Titanic has on sales of collectibles, with many collectors focussing primarily or exclusively on memorabilia associated with the disaster.

    We told you the story of Millvina Dean, the youngest and last survivor of the Titanic who died last year. A baby when she was on the ship, she never had any recollection of the event, (though it claimed her father's life) but Titanic followers sought her out anyway, and her autograph was and is greatly prized.

    It is almost guaranteed to increase in value now that she and all the other survivors have passed on.

    Items more directly associated with the Titanic are also popular.

    For example, in 2005 Bonhams sold a picture frame made from Titanic driftwood by Bertram T King of the SS Minia, who helped save survivors. It brought $16,450, whilst a rare original White Star Line Titanic Return Poster (cancelled when she did not return) brought $28,200.

    There was even a menu of the meals for third class passengers on board. It survived in the handbag of Sarah Roth, a Third Class Passenger, who was rescued by the Carpathia in lifeboat C. This brought $44,650.

    This week has seen the Carpathia referenced again, with news that one of the medals given to a crewman on the first ship to assist the stricken Titanic is to go under the hammer.

    However, perhaps the most exciting Titanic collectibles are those which actually sank to the bottom with the ship. Some have returned from the watery grave.

    In 1985, a joint American-French expedition finally discovered the wreck, and in 1994 a company named RMS Titanic Inc was awarded ownership and salvaging rights to the vessel and its contents.

    It has since recovered 5,500 historic objects including a 17-ton section of the hull, many or most of which have been included in travelling exhibitions. These have been seen by over 16 million people around the world, everywhere from Manchester in England to Tokyo in Japan, not to mention a swathe of US cities.


  • Medal for a saviour of the Titanic goes under the hammer at Bonhams

    The RMS Carpathia bronze medal in its original box

    From Paul Fraser

    A bronze award for a crew member of RMS Carpathia heads their Marine Sale.

    Tomorrow, Bonhams is holding a Travel and Exploration sale at which they're offering an exceptionally rare signed scrimshawed whale's tooth from Charles Darwin's voyage on HMS Beagle.

    Not prepared to leave it at that, however, the auctioneer is preparing to offer of the largest scrimshaw collections in recent years at their Marine Sale at the end of the month, including a massive English scrimshaw whale's tooth (estimated at £8,000-12,000).

    The sale also includes a hand-drawn invasion landing plan for the British forces at the beginning of the Crimean war (expected to achieve £300-500 - but surely it's worth more than this), and a more sentimental collectible: a rare love token folding comb (listed at £4,000-6,000).

    However, the pieces which will be of most interest to many will be the Titanic memorabilia.

    One of the bronze medals presented to the crew of RMS Carpathia, following their heroic rescue of 705 survivors of the stricken Titanic on April 15 1912 is going under the hammer. The Carpathia was the first ship to reach the survivor's lifeboats, having received an emergency transmission from the Titanic when it hit an iceberg at 11.40pm on April 14 1912.

    Diverted from her passage, RMS Carpathia came to the rescue of 705 passengers and took them to safety in New York.

    On arrival, the Officers and Crew were presented with medals by one of the saved First Class passengers, Margaret (Molly) Brown, to commemorate the rescue: Captain Rostron received a Gold medal and silver cup, the Officers received silver medals, and the Crew received bronze.

    The medal is inscribed: "Presented to the Captain Officers and Crew of RMS Carpathia in recognition of gallant and heroic service From the Survivors of the SS Titanic April 15th 1912." and is estimated at £2,000-4,000.


  • Shipwrecked Madeira to be sold at auction

    Madeira bottle

    By Deidre Woollard - Luxist

    From the depths of the ocean to your wine cellar. Spectrum Wine Auctions, Southern California's leading auction house of fine and rare wine, will hold its first sale of the fall 2010 auction season on September 24 including a bottle of shipwrecked Madeira wine dating to the 1800s.

    The bottle, which is estimated at $1200 was discovered off of the Savannah, Georgia coast by professional diver Bill Kinsey in the late 1970s.

    The lot comes from a collector who bought the only two bottles from the shipwreck in 1980 at The Heublein Premiere National Auction of Rare Wines XII. He tasted the first one on television and noted that it was fantastic and in perfect condition. The thick mud on the ocean floor protected the bottles from worms and water.

    The sale will take place at 6 p.m. PDT at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills and Saturday, September 25 at 9:00 a.m. HKT at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.

    Other highlights from the sale include some of the greatest vintages from producers in Bordeaux, Burgundy and California including 37 lots of Harlan Cabernet Sauvignon, 47 lots of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon and several verticals of Chateau Montelena in magnum, three-liter and five-liter bottles.

    The total pre-sale estimate for the 761 lots on offer is $3.2 million.

  • Double Eagle Gold Coins from the SS Central America

    Coin from SS Central America

    By Greg Reynolds - Coinlink

    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. 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. 

    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.



  • Pistol used to steal coal for RMS Titanic appears for sale


    From Paul Fraser Collectibles

    In 1912, during a national coal strike, the Titanic's owners resorted to desperate measures. Sometimes it's the 'stories behind the stories' which provide the most interesting items of memorabilia.

    Such is the case with the story of the RMS Titanic which, after striking an iceberg four days into its voyage on April 14, 1912, remains one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

    Most people are familiar the story - famously retold in director James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.

    However, less people are perhaps aware of an amazing tale which precedes the Titanic's doomed maiden voyage from Southampton, England in 1912. Britain was then in the grip of a national coal strike, and the Titanic's owners White Star Liner feared that there wouldn't be enough fuel to power the mammoth ship.

    To deal with the situation, George Frederick Bull, a bursar for the company, traveled with his colleague, R McPherson, to Wallasey in Merseyside. There, they stole coal from the striking miners at gun-point.

    Today, almost a century later, the 104-year-old pistol which played such a crucial role in the launching the Titanic has appeared for sale on the collectors' markets.

    The gun is being sold by Antiques Storehouse of Portsmouth, UK, priced £200,000.

    It will be sold in an original flare box from the Titanic and has Bull's initials engraved on its handle.


  • Rare 'Whisky Galore' bottle up for auction

    From Stornoway Gazette

    A bottle of Ballantine's from the "Whisky Galore" ship, The SS Politician, is being offered at Bonhams annual Scottish Sale in Edinburgh between 17 - 20 August.

    It is believed to have been salvaged from the wreck of the ship in the 1950s or 1960s and is being sold with photographs of the salvage operation at an estimate of £1,200 – 1,800.

    In 1941, the SS Politician set sail for Kingston, Jamaica with a cargo which included pianos, motor parts, bedding and 28,000 cases (264,000 bottles) of whisky.

    The ship ran aground in a gale off the Outer Hebrides near the island of Eriskay. Luckily the crew were rescued unharmed; and so, over the next few weeks, was the whisky. Islanders, from Eriskay and beyond, starved of whisky by war time rationing, systematically liberated around 24,000 bottles before the authorities caught up with them.

    Some of the looters were fined; some ended up in jail; few of the stolen bottles were recovered. The hull of the ship was blown up by a frustrated local customs officer to put the whisky beyond temptation, prompting one anguished islander to exclaim, "Dynamiting whisky ! You wouldn't think there'd be men in the world so crazy as that !"

    In 1947 the Scottish author, Compton MacKenzie wrote a novel, Whisky Galore, based on the incident which, two years later, was turned into a successful Ealing Comedy film of the same name.

    Whisky from the Politician rarely appears at auction. In 1987, eight bottles were retrieved from the wreck which still lies submerged off the coast of Eriskay and sold for £4,000. Despite extensive salvage efforts in 1989 only 24 more bottles were recovered.

  • Seafaring bounty goes up for sale

    From This Is Bristol

    Mementoes of one of the most dramatic battles in Bristol's naval history go under the hammer tomorrow.

    In 1745 two of the city's ships plundered 2,381,000 ounces of Spanish silver worth £800,000 from two armed French treasure ships in the North Atlantic. And while most of it was turned into coins, some was melted down and turned into ornaments for the rich and famous.

    Two of these, candelabra bearing the crest of William Murray, the first Earl of Mansfield, go under the hammer at Woolley and Wallis's sale in Salisbury tomorrow with an estimate of £8,000 to £12,000.

    Murray was one of the main supporters of Britain's War of Austrian succession, the conflict that gave the privateer captains James Talbot and John Morecock the right to seize the treasure. Bristol was a major port for privateers – privately owned ships authorised to attack and capture enemy vessels in times of war.

    And it was on July 10, 1745 that Talbot and Morecock, captaining the Prince Frederick and Duke, sighted the Louis Erasmé, Marquis d'Antin and Notre Dame sailing back to France with their hoard from Callao, the port for Lima, Peru.

    One of the enemy ships surrendered after its captain had been killed by a pistol shot, another did so after prolonged fighting and the Notre Dame escaped. The masts of the two captured ships had been shot away, and it took three weeks to tow them to back Bristol with their heavy cargoes of treasure.

    In early October, the fortune – weighing 78 tons – was paraded overland on 45 wagons to the royal mint at the Tower of London. More than 2.6 million silver dollars – pieces of eight – formed the bulk of the booty, along with gold doubloons and pistoles, gold bars – plus 800 tons of cocoa, which in itself was highly prized.

    There was great rejoicing over the capture, and a medal was struck in honour of Talbot and Morecock.

    More to read...

  • Indonesia criticized for murky rules on sunken treasures


    By Putri Prameshwari - The Jakarta Post

    Given the country’s thousands of sprawling islands, key shipping lanes and bounty of shipwrecks, the government should immediately draft legislation on the recovery and management of sunken treasures, stakeholders said.

    Last week’s lack of bidders at an auction of 10th-century ceramics and jewelry recovered from the depths was clear proof that the government had a long way to go toward managing such items, said speakers at a discussion organized by the Indonesian Heritage Trust (BPPI) in Jakarta on Tuesday.

    Ratu Raja Arimbi Nurtina, a spokeswoman for the Cirebon royal family at the Kanoman Palace, said the recovered items had been taken from the waters off Cirebon, West Java, without the involvement of local residents.

    “I regret the decision to take these treasures and put them under the hammer,” she said. “Even though they were, strictly speaking, not ours, it would have been better to consult with us on the matter.”

    The treasures, Arimbi said, could have been used to build a picture of the region’s vibrant trading history.

    “The palace opposes any attempt by the government to auction off the treasure before it is exhibited to the people of Cirebon,” she said, adding that Kanoman Palace needed a say in any decision made by the government or private contractors salvaging sunken treasure in the area.

    Mustaqim Asteja, from the Cirebon-based Kendi Pertula Heritage Society, said a thorough study of the treasure could shed light on the city’s past. “History is a work in progress,” he said. “You can’t categorically rule out these items being related to Cirebon or its development.”

    The Cirebon shipwreck was located 130 kilometers off the north coast of West Java. Under the regional autonomy law, a district’s jurisdiction stretches up to six kilometers offshore, while a province’s jurisdiction extends from six to 20 km. The central government is responsible for anything beyond that.

    Nunus Supardi, the former director for archeology and ancient history at the Kendi Pertula Heritage Society, said government regulations on recovered treasures remained unclear. “No one understands how it works,” he said.

    More to read...

  • Sunken treasure in Morton & Eden London sale

    From News Antique

    Salvaged gold coins and ingots recovered from a Spanish treasure ship which sank in 1752 are among items to be sold by specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden in London on May 20, 2010. The Wallace Katz Collection is expected to raise a total of around £200,000.

    The late Mr Katz, a New York collector was inspired by the romanticism of gold coins and ingots that had been recovered from the seabed.

    In 1993, for example, he was a major purchaser at the Sotheby's New York sale of The Uruguayan Treasure of the River Plate recovered from the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de la Luz.

    On July 2 1752, the Luz was anchored off Montevideo, preparing to sail to Cadiz and waiting for the last of her cargo, passengers, crew and captain.

    She was swept away by a westerly storm of extreme suddenness and violence (known locally as a pampero), and her wreckage was smashed against the northern coast and strewn over a large area. All hands were lost.

    A salvage operation commenced immediately and over 90 per cent of the registered cargo and large quantities of privately owned goods were successfully recovered within the following year. Further modest finds were made during the next 20 years, although the compartment of the Luz's hull in which the ammunition and powder store would have been located, was not found.

    The wreck was discovered in 1992, although the divers at first assumed it was that of El Preciado sunk in 1792. However, during the salvage operations, it became apparent that, due to the large quantities of 8 and 4 escudos dated between 1749 and 1751, most of which were in perfect or near perfect condition, the wreck had to be a ship sunk soon after the date of the latest coins found.

    This pointed to the Luz and almost certainly to the contraband stored in the ship's hull. In addition to escudos coins of various denominations and a quantity of silver coins, the divers also salvaged 40 gold ingots.


  • Can a nation afford its own treasure ?

    By Dina Indrasafitri - The Jakarta Post

    Middle Eastern traders carrying swords with golden hilts sailed a ship filled with goods such as intricately carved ceramics and glimmering green glass wares from the Eastern Mediterranean. Alas, the ship, along with the hundreds of thousands of trade wares, sank in the waters of the archipelago when making its way to the Kalingga kingdom in Central Java. 

    So went one scenario suggested by Adi Agung Tirtamarta, the CEO of one of the private companies involved in the excavation of over 270,000 artifacts from a sunken ship about 90 miles North West from the city of Cirebon, West Java.

    Another scenario suggested that Middle Eastern traders had stopped by in India and China to pick up goods before crossing the Molucca strait and met their final fate in the sea, he said. Romantic as the tale seemed, the story of its finding, up to the recent auction, which attracted no bidders in Jakarta, had been less so, for it revealed that Indonesia’s sunken treasures might be too costly to handle alone.

    Local fishermen were the first to discover the Cirebon wreck, which came to rest more than 50 meters below sea level. They then sold the position to PT Paradigma Putra Sejahtera-Adi Agung’s company.
    What is telling is that they did not report the find to the local authorities.

    “Perhaps they thought reporting to companies wouldn’t get them any compensation, so they asked the government what companies work in the excavation of sunken cargo from ship wrecks,” Adi Agung said.

    The company proposed to the government its survey and excavation plan, which was issued in February 2004. The recovery process, completed in October 2005, took 18 months.

    According to the artifacts’ catalogue, the majority of the ceramics found at the wreck were produced during the Five Dynasties in China’s Zhejiang Province, where an early form of porcelain called the Yue ware were produced.

    History enthusiasts protested the government’s plan to auction some of the discovered artifacts.

    More to read...

  • Indonesia to ease auction rules to lure treasure bidders

    Luc Heymans - Cirebon Treasure

    By Putri Prameshwari - Jakarta Globe

    The government is revising its bidding procedures for a cache of salvaged historical artifacts, following last week’s aborted auction that had aimed to raise $80 million but failed to get a single bid, an official at the maritime affairs ministry said on Sunday.

    The auction flop has polarized the debate on whether such items are too valuable, historically, to be sold off.

    Aji Sularso, director general of supervision at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, said officials would meet on Monday to discuss alternative procedures for the auction of 271,000 pieces of ceramics and jewelry recovered from a shipwreck off Cirebon, West Java.

    “Having learned from the first auction, we’re evaluating the procedures for the next one,” he said.

    Wednesday’s auction of 10th-century treasures was called off after five minutes because there were no bidders. The ministry had required a deposit of $16 million for the right to bid, about 20 percent of the minimum amount it sought to raise.

    “We’ll probably be more flexible on the deposit,” Aji said.

    He added that another problem was that the auction had been announced at short notice, giving potential bidders only a week to register and submit their deposits. Aji said an overhaul of the bidding procedure would be crucial to enabling the ministry to auction off more such items within the country, rather than through auction houses elsewhere. 

    Indonesian waters, historically busy shipping lanes, are believed to house numerous wrecks carrying valuable cargo. Aji put the number at more than 480. The Cirebon haul was recovered by Belgian salvager Luc Heymans’ Cosmix Underwater Research and its local partner, PT Paradigma Putra Sejahtera. 

    Paradigma CEO Adi Agung Tirtamarta welcomed further discussions with the ministry on loosening up the bidding procedure.

    “It’ll be good for Indonesia to get its hands on treasures found in its own waters,” he said, adding that in the past such finds were looted and taken overseas.


  • Controversial sunken treasure auction attracts no bidders

    By Dina Indrasafitri - The Jakarta Post

    The auction of centuries-old artifacts recently discovered on the bottom of Indonesia’s ocean floor opened Wednesday with the attendance of government officials, including two ministers and a pack of journalists — and not a single bidder.

    The seats saved for bidders were left empty, forcing the organizer of the auction to call it a day only minutes after the gavel was banged.

    “There was an auction, but since there were no bidders, it was instantly closed,” said Sudirman Saad, the secretary-general for the recovery and usage of precious goods in sunken ships.

    According to him, the offer to join the auction had been open until 12 a.m., or two hours before the auction, but no registrations had been made. Thus, he said, the auction was recorded as “being conducted, but without any bidders”.

    More than 271,000 historical objects discovered in Cirebon waters in West Java were up for auction.

    The artifacts were excavated from the ruins of a ship in 2005. The value of the retrieved objects was estimated at US$80 million.

    The artifacts included a golden sword with Arabic inscriptions, a large vase from the 10th century Liao dynasty, rock crystals and a 32-centimeter bronze mirror.

    Interested bidders were obliged to deposit 20 percent ($16 million) of the value of the auctioned goods.

    Maritime and Fisheries Minister Fadel Muhammad, who is also the acting chairman of the National Committee for the Recovery and Usage of Precious Goods in Sunken Ships, said it might take weeks or months before the committee could decide what they would do next.

    “We will have a meeting with committee members and then decide what to do. Of course we will also consult with the President,” he said after the auction closed.

    The auction has drawn criticism from academics and history buffs as well as the royal family of the Cirebon Sultanate.


  • Treasure Auction Flops

    Cirebon Treasures

    By Ulma Haryanto - Jakarta Globe

    Going once, going twice, fail.

    The highly anticipated — at least locally — auction of a 10th-century treasure trove valued at around $80 million flopped on Wednesday when not a single bidder bothered to show up.

    Embarrassingly for local officials, the auctioneer was forced to abandon the auction at the Ministry of Fisheries in Central Jakarta just five minutes after it opened.

    Adi Agung Tirtamarta, chief executive officer of PT Paradigma Putra Sejathera, the local partner of Belgian treasurer hunter Luc Heymans, said the failure indicated that it was clearly time for the government to revise its regulation requiring potential bidders to first pay a hefty deposit of $16 million, or 20 percent of the reserve price of $80 million.

    Adi said the deposit requirement was unique to Indonesia.

    The gems, crystal ware, gold and porcelain were salvaged from an unidentified wreck off Cirebon, West Java, in 2004.

  • Cirebon sultanate deplores planned auction of artifacts

    By Nana Rukmana - The Jakarta Post

    The Cirebon Kasepuhan Sultanate has opposed the government’s plan to auction off thousands of historical artifacts recovered from a 1,000-year-old shipwreck in waters off Cirebon, West Java. The artifacts are thought to originate from China and the Middle East.

    The sultanate’s authorities said the artifacts were part of the nation’s history and heritage and therefore too valuable to be sold off to overseas buyers.

    “We urge the government to act wisely and cancel the auction. It would be better if the artifacts remained in Indonesia and became part of the country’s collection of invaluable assets,” said Cirebon Kasepuhan Crown Prince Pangeran Raja Adipati Arief Natadiningrat on Tuesday.

    The auction will be held May 5 under the coordination of the National Committee of Excavation and Utilization of Precious Artifacts from Sunken Ships.

    The collection includes around 271,000 items dating from the 10th century, including pottery, jewelry, gemstones and crystal ware.

    The loot was recovered from a sunken ship in the Java Sea from 2004 to 2005, some 70 miles off the northern coast of Cirebon. The auction’s value is estimated at Rp 1 trillion (about US$100 million).

    Pangeran Arief said the items were part of the country’s history and should be submitted for research rather than auctioned off.


  • Little Interest in Indonesian Treasure

    Belgian treasure-hunter Luc Heymans - AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad

    From AFP

    An auction of a 10th-century treasure trove worth an estimated 80 million dollars was in doubt Tuesday after Indonesian officials said no potential buyers had paid the hefty deposit required to bid.

    The gems, crystal ware, gold and porcelain salvaged from an unidentified wreck off Cirebon, West Java, in 2004 is due to be sold in one lot by the Indonesian government in Jakarta on Wednesday.

    Expressions of interest have come from collectors around Asia but none has paid the 16-million-dollar deposit, or 20 percent of the minimum sale price of 80 million dollars, by Monday’s deadline, officials said.

    “There are 20 interested participants, including some from overseas. Those from abroad come from Singapore, Beijing, Hongkong, Malaysia and Japan,” Maritime Affairs Ministry official Sudirman Saad said.

    “So far none of the interested parties has put down the security deposit but we will still hold the auction tomorrow ... If there are no buyers we’ll propose a second auction.”

    Some 271,000 pieces are on sale including rubies, pearls, gold jewellery, Fatimid rock-crystal, Iranian glassware and exquisite Chinese imperial porcelain dating back to around 976 AD.

    The Indonesian state will take 50 percent of the proceeds and the remainder will be shared among the salvagers, including Belgian treasure hunter Luc Heymans’ Cosmix Underwater Research Ltd.

    Saad said the deposit requirement, the minimum bid or the lack of notice to potential buyers could be reasons that no parties had confirmed their participation.

  • For Sale: Ancient Treasures Dug From Indonesia's Seas

    Cirebon Treasure - AFP   Cirebon Treasure - AFP

    By Stephen Coates - Jakarta Globe

    An ancient treasure trove salvaged from a 1,000-year-old shipwreck found by Indonesian fishermen is set to fetch at least $80 million when it goes under the hammer in Jakarta on Wednesday.

    Belgian treasure hunter Luc Heymans said the haul was one of the biggest found in Asia and was comparable to the most valuable shipwreck ever found anywhere, that of the Atocha, a Spanish vessel that sank off the US state of Florida in 1622.

    It includes 271,000 pieces such as rubies, pearls, gold jewelry, Fatimid rock-crystal, Iranian glassware and Chinese imperial porcelain dating to the end of the first millennium, around 976 AD.

    “At the time there was a lot of trade going on between Arabia and India and coming down to Java and Sumatra,” said Heymans, who led the salvage and subsequent battles with Indonesian officials to recover the treasure.

    Descending for the first time to the wreck site north of Cirebon, West Java, in 2004, the veteran diver said he couldn’t believe what appeared out of the gloom.

    “The site was 40 meters by 40 meters and it was just a mountain of porcelain. You couldn’t see any wood [from the ship],” he said.

    And not just any porcelain. The pieces include the largest known vase from the Liao dynasty (907-1125) and famous Yue Mise wares from the Five Dynasties (907-960), with the green coloring exclusive to the emperor.

    About 11,000 pearls, 4,000 rubies, 400 dark red sapphires and more than 2,200 garnets were also pulled from the depths. It took 22,000 dives to bring it all up, but Heymans said the salvage work, from February 2004 to October 2005, was the easy part.

    “All the major problems began after we got the stuff on shore,” he said.

    The police arrested two divers even though Heymans’ company, Cosmix Underwater Research, and his local partner, PT Paradigma Putra Sejathera, had painstakingly arranged survey and excavation licences.

    The divers spent a month behind bars before the mix-up was resolved. There were also run-ins with the Navy, efforts by rivals to move in on the wreck, a year of litigation and two years of waiting while Indonesia drafted new regulations to govern such work.


  • Harta Karun Berupa Ribuan Keramik China Masih Diteliti

    Dari RRI

    Cirebon, Setelah penemuan Harta Karun Dinasti Ming di Perairan Cirebon yang disita dari kegiatan pencarian ilegal di perairan Blanakan, Kabupaten Subang beberapa waktu lalu, Tim penanganan indikasi Ilegal Barang Barharga Muatan Kapal Tenggelam BMKT dari Kementrian Budaya dan Pariwisata, ke Cirebon untuk melakukan penelitian dan investigasi terhadap penemuan ribuan keramik Cina tersebut.

    Kepada RRI Ketua tim penanganan, Rini Supriyatun yang juga arkeolog dari Dirjen Sejarah dan Purbakala, Direktorat Peninggalan Bawah Air mengatakan, pihaknya belum memastikan nilai dan usia barang-barang antik tersebut karena proses penelitian masih dilakukan.

    Yang jelas tegas RINI sesuai UU No 5 Tahun 1992 tentang Benda Cagar Budaya, penemuan tersebut sudah masuk kategori benda purbakala atau Benda Cagar Budaya BCG.

    Hingga sore kemarin, pihaknya baru menemukan sepuluh jenis keramik yang berbeda dari enam dus harta karun sitaan yang baru selesai diklasifikasi.

    Dari bentuk dan motifnya, kata Rini, keramik Cina yang ditemukan di perairan Blanakan Subang ini mempunyai keunikan tersendiri, selain itu dari sisi usia, Rini memperkirakan benda-benda kono ini tidak lebih tua dari penemuan serupa di perairan Karangsong, Indramayu Pada tahun 2004 yang dipastikan merupakan peninggalan Dinasti Ming sekitar abad ke 10.

    Sementara itu Danlanal Cirebon Letkol Laut P Deny Septiana mengatakan, Periran Cirebon sudah sejak lama dikenal sebagai tempat perburuan liar harta karun atau Benda Berharga Muatan Asal Kapal Tenggelam BMKT. Perburuan tidak hanya dilakukan oleh penyelam tradisional dan nelayan lokal dengan peralatan yang sederhana, tetapi diduga melibatkan sindikat internasional.

    Menurutnya Perairan Cirebon menjadi lahan perburuan bagi pencari harta karun dari seluruh dunia, dari sekira 640 lokasi benda berharga BMKT, 120 titik di antaranya terletak di wilayah perairan Cirebon.

    Dengan potensi yang ada, tidak heran sudah banyak pemburu liar melakukan pengambilan benda-benda antik dari dasar laut. Permasalahan Perburuan Harta Karun yang mencuat akhir–akhir ini dengan disitanya ribuan keramik peninggalan Dinasti Ming ke 10 ini, diperkirakan sudah berlangsung lama.

    Sementara itu, menanggapi permasalahan Ijin Eksplorasi wilayah Laut yang dilakukan oleh pihak swasta, Kasi Perijinan Direktorat Peninggalan Bawah Air, Dirjen Sejarah dan Purbakala, Kementrian Budaya dan Pariwisata, Pahang mengatakan, kalau pihaknya memang telah mengeluarkan Ijin tersebut.

    Pihaknya juga membenarkan banyaknya upaya-upaya pencarian baik yang dilakukan secara legal maupun ilegal untuk mengangkat harta karun yang tersimpan di dasar perairan Cirebon.

    Pahang mencontohkan kasus pencarian ilegal seperti ditemukan dua kapal layar motor KLM Alini Jaya dan KLM Asli tanpa awak yang membawa ribuan harta karun yang jumlahnya mencapai ribuan di perairan sekitar Ciasem, Blanakan, Subang, Jabar yang tertangkap oleh Ditpolair Jabar.

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  • Sedwick Treasure Auction #7 Brings In $1.37 Million

    Treasure sale

    By Daniel Frank Sedwick - Coin Link

    “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.


  • Diver who salvaged £50m of gold from ship puts historical items up for sale

    Many of the items in the sale were bought by Wharton with the proceeds of the salvage, for the home he had gambled to help fund the HMS Edinburgh operation, Midmar Castle, a classic 16th-century Aberdeenshire castle at Inverurie

    By Gillian Bell - The Press and Journal

    Historical objects owned by a diving engineer who salvaged £50million of Russian gold from a wartime wreck will be sold at auction later this month.

    Ric Wharton is selling a selection of the contents of Midmar Castle, near Echt, which was put on the market last year for offers over £3.5million.

    Lots include a deep-sea diving helmet, a large collection of arms and a rare bronze cannon.

    The cruiser HMS Edinburgh was sunk in 1942 after being torpedoed on the return leg of a voyage from the west coast of Scotland to Russia while carrying Soviet gold as payment to the US for military supplies.

    Mr Wharton gambled Midmar to help fund the £3million operation to recover the ship’s treasure from the Barents Sea after rating his diving company’s chances at only 10% to 20%. When the expedition was successful in locating and recovering the haul in 1981, he used his share of the salvage reward to fund the restoration of the 16th-century castle and its collection.

    Campbell Armour, of auction house Lyon and Turnbull, said: “Midmar is known as the first of the five great castles of Mar and contains many treasures collected by the gold bullion adventurer.”


  • Treasure Auction #7: April 7-9, 2010

    Treasure auction

    By Daniel Frank Sedwick -

    Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC is working around the clock to present another big auction with over 2150 lots and a pre-auction estimate of over $1 million. Lots will be online around the first week of March and available for viewing in person at the Baltimore Coin Show March 3-7.

    Also lot viewing in person will be available by appointment at our private office in Winter Park, Florida, March 8-April 1 (weekdays only, 9 am to 5 pm).

    In great deference to the Sedwick patriarch, for the first time ever we will see 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.

    Also in the gold cob category there is a choice Cuzco cob 2 escudos 1698, plate coin in Diving to a Flash of Gold by the legendary Marty Meylach, who found the coin and certified it.

    But perhaps most intriguing in the 1715-Fleet gold cobs this time is a 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 flown medallions made of 1715-Fleet silver are very hot with space collectors, who will no doubt go crazy for this genuine coin as well, but we hope the treasure collectors will win out in the end. And yes. of course we have a full date 1715, probably our favorite so far.

    More to read...

  • Daniel Frank Sedwick -Treasure Auction #6, Oct. 15-16, 2009


    By Daniel Frank Sedwick

    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.

    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.

    “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.

    More to read...

  • Titanic cabin key sold for $88,000 at auction in U.K

    Titanic artefact

    From Novosti

    A key to a first class cabin on the legendary Titanic ocean liner, which sank nearly a century ago, was sold for 60,000 British pounds ($88,000) in Britain, the auction house Henry Aldridge & Son said.

    Henry Aldridge & Son auctions items associated with the shipwreck twice a year in the Wiltshire County in the south-west of England. The latest auction, held on April 18, included about 130 lots with Titanic memorabilia.

    Other items included a collection of belongings of Millvina Dean, the last living survivor from the Titanic disaster.

    The 97-year-old woman, who was rescued from the sinking ship as a two-month-old baby, is trying to raise money to pay her fees at a nursing home in Southampton.

    The ship, carrying 2,200 people, sank in 1912 in the Atlantic Ocean during its maiden voyage between the British port of Southampton and New York, after it struck an iceberg.

    At least 1,496 people were killed in the world's greatest maritime tragedy, and some 306 bodies were recovered.

  • Artifacts From Titanic's Rescue Ship: the Carpathia

    From Science Museum of Minnesota

    Carpathia, one of the most famous ships in the Cunard line, was 58 miles from Titanic when its crew received the distress call.

    In response, Carpathia raced through the icy waters of the North Atlantic to help. It arrived on the scene after Titanic had foundered, but the crew managed to rescue the 705 survivors of the disaster and carry them to their New York destination.

    After the historic rescue, Carpathia returned to transatlantic service and was sunk by a German torpedo during World War I. Her wreckage was discovered in September 1999, approximately 185 miles off the southwestern coast of England.

    The world premiere Carpathia artifacts will be displayed in a brand new Rescue Gallery within the Titanic exhibition. Dramatically retelling the story of Carpathia's heroic crew, this specially designed gallery will contain nearly half of all artifacts that were recovered from the ship's wreck site.

    In addition, the gallery will highlight many elements of Titanic's rescue, including historic photographs, wireless telegraph messages, and the stories that led to Carpathia's moniker "The Ship of Widows."

    Highlights of the Carpathia Rescue Gallery include:

    - A flask, one of only five personal items found during the recovery efforts. Made of sterling silver and glass, this flask was recovered with a protective leather covering. The leather did not survive the conservation process, but its loss revealed an engraved stag's head and wine glass on the metal surface.
    - A porthole, which weighs over 50 pounds and has its original glass and wood still intact. Visitors will also see two clamps/locks that would have kept the porthole closed during rough weather.
    - A telegraph top which, because of its size and position, proved to be the most difficult item to recover from Carpathia's wreckage.
    - A tiny cosmetics jar from the United Kingdom's Boots Pharmacy. Measuring at just 3 inches tall, this jar was recovered with its contents -- a yellow cream -- still intact. Floor tiles, glassware, china, and more.

  • Interest galore as shipwreck whisky sells for £2,200

    From The Press and Journal


    A bottle of whisky recovered from the wreck of a cargo ship which inspired the film Whisky Galore ! sold at auction yesterday for £2,200 to a teenager fascinated by its remarkable story.

    The bottle of Ballantine Scotch whisky was expected to fetch about £1,500 but strong competition from bidders pushed its price up.

    The bottle was one of around 240,000 which sank with the SS Politician after she ran aground off Eriskay in 1941.

    The sinking inspired the novel Whisky Galore ! and the 1949 Ealing comedy of the same name, ensuring the tale of how the islanders raided a shipwreck for her cargo of whisky entered into legend.



  • Offbeat investments on rise amid stock concerns

    From Wesh


    With the stock market struggling, some people have found new ways to invest their money.

    Daniel Sedwick is a rare coins and artifacts dealer in Winter Park. He said business is good, despite the recession. He specializes in artifacts and shipwreck coins.

    Sedwick said that the sinking economy is making some people turn to more offbeat investment options because specialty items tend to hold their value.

    "It’s dangerous to think of it as an investment, but the fact is, it’ll never be worth zero," Sedwick said. "It’s not like stock -- where you invest in it and one day you wake up to find the markets crashed and you have nothing."

    Financial planner Jason Chepenik said he has heard of people investing in rare artifacts, but he does not recommend it. He said people must continue to think long-term with their investments.

  • World's Most Expensive Champagne at $275,000 a Bottle


    By Jared Paul Stern

    Some vintage 1907 Heidsieck champagne that's been sitting on the bottom of the ocean for the past 80 years is being sold for $275,000 a bottle at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow. 

    Over 200 bottles of the long-lost, perfectly-preserved bubbly were salvaged from a shipwreck off the coast of Finland, Russian newspaper Komersant reports.

    At the time of the accident in 1916 the wine was on its way to the Russian Imperial family. 

    The Ritz-Carlton, where top suites go for upwards of $15,000 a night, is now offering them at $275,000 a bottle, making it the world's most expensive champagne. Sounds like the perfect drink for all those oligarchs.

  • Slower coin sales at Tampa treasure hunter Odyssey Marine

    From Tampa Bay

    Tampa treasure hunting company Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. said slower sales of gold and other coins from shipwrecks it has discovered reduced its revenue for the second quarter. 

    Revenue fell to $1.1-million from $1.7-million in the same period of 2007, and Odyssey reported a quarterly loss of $5.4-million in the latest quarter compared with a $6.3-million loss in the same three-month period last year. 

    Odyssey said it continues to work on several potential shipwreck sites and is helping to develop an 11-episode primetime TV series for Discovery Channel scheduled to air in early 2009.

  • £220,000 for scuttle relics

    Relics from German battleships sunk after the First World War were among a treasure trove that made over £220,000 at an auction yesterday.

    A ship's telegraph, clock, searchlight and parts of a porcelain dinner service salvaged from Kaiser Wilhelm II's fleet were sold in Edinburgh.

    They were among items from a huge collection of antiques housed on Orkney by Norris Wood and sold by Bonhams.

    The total of 580 lots went for around £223,680 - more than double the estimated proceeds. Seventy-four German ships were scuttled at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands in June 1919.

    Some salvaged items were stored by Mr Wood at his 17th- century home, Graemeshall House, overlooking Scapa Flow.

  • Sunken treasure for sale on TV

    By Alan Sayre

    The Franklin Mint has purchased about 360,000 coins recovered from the wreck of El Cazador, a Spanish brig-of-war that sank in early 1784 during a storm in the Gulf of Mexico as it attempted to reach then-Spanish-controlled Louisiana.

    The cache will be offered for sale over a cable TV shopping network by the company, which usually produces its own lines of collectibles.

    Fishermen discovered the wreck off the state's coast in 1993 when coins were snared in a trawl. Franklin Mint acquired the coins from the salvagers.

    "Tales of shipwrecked treasure and dead man's gold have always fascinated us," said M. Moshe Malamud, chairman of Aston, Pa.-based Franklin Mint.

    The trove mostly consists of silver coins denominated in reales, commonly regarded as the predecessor to the peso. In their time, reales coins were an international currency, 8 reales trading equivalent to a U.S. dollar until U.S. currency laws of the 1850s banned them as legal tender.