S.S. Central America
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.