Infamous Shipwreck Coins

For collectors, some of the most infamous and sought after coins are those rumored to have been recovered from shipwrecks. Intrigue and legend greatly increase the interest in such coins. The coins are no longer simply beautiful artifacts or pieces of history, they are sunken treasure.

The thought of owning something that ended up at the bottom of the sea after a tragic and dramatic occurrence appeals to many. Countless shipwrecks are rumored to have gone down with invaluable coins. For instance, the Civil War Era's S.S. Republic sunk in the Atlantic Ocean during a hurricane in 1865, Amongst the cargo were thousands of U.S. coins. Some of these coins will go for over $100,000 each at auction.

Spanish coins are some of the most commonly found coins originating from shipwrecks. This is because many Spanish galleons were lost at sea in the process of bringing silver and gold from the New World to Spain. The most infamous of these ships, the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, sunk off the coast of Florida in 1622.

Care must be taken in purchasing sunken treasure coins. Not all are as valuable as those from the S.S. Republic. In fact, some actually are worth less than what they were worth at the time of issuance. The short-term excitement that goes along with the discovery of sunken treasure often causes prices to be temporarily inflated. Oftentimes the surfaces of these coins have been so corroded that they are rendered worthless. Expert coin collectors become quite adept at identifying and purchasing sunken treasure coins that hold great value, as well as knowing when to ignore those that will quickly lose their worth.

The US is host to a number of excellent museums that contain authentic shipwreck plunder. The El Cazador Museum in Grand Bay, Alabama sells sets of Spanish gold coins recovered from the infamous wreck. The displays also contain glimpses of the ship's fittings and items from everyday life at the time of the wreck.

Located on Fenwick Island in Delaware, the Discover Sea Shipwreck Museum features artifacts from some of the wrecks that occurred in the DelMarVa peninsula area. They also offer some great information on the so-called "coin beaches" in the area, on which coin collectors often find artifacts from shipwrecks of long ago. Highlights include a blown glass hourglass salvaged from a two centuries old shipwreck in the Bermuda Triangle.

Authentic 1715 coins can be purchased from the Atocha Treasure Company in Key West. Among the items available are jewelry made from the coins. The company also offers an appraisal service for Atocha shipwreck plunder.

The Internet is a great source for shipwreck coins too, and brokers abound offering authentic shipwreck booty. But use care when dealing with online brokers, or mail order companies, and check to be sure that the dealer is reputable and reliable. The Professional Numismatic Guild is a non-profit organization whose goal is to protect coin collectors from fraud and misrepresentation. Their member dealers must have a verified amount of over $100,000 in numismatic assets before they can join, and all members are full-time coin dealers with an average of more than 25 years of experience in the field. A great advantage to finding a dealer through the PNG is their arbitration process; an unbiased third-party arbitrator will handle any disputes arising from a purchase from one of their members. View their complete member list settle any at the Guild website at And remember before parting with your hard earned "gold," know the value of what you are buying so you don't end up being pirated!