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.