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.


Wallace Katz Collection London auctioneers Morton & Eden Nuestra Señora de la Luz Montevideo