Treasure coins popular
By Steve Roach
discovery of the SS Central America in 1987 with
tons of gold coins and ingots made some coins
more accessible to collectors and created new
objects for collectors to enjoy.
For example, more than 5,200 1857-S Coronet gold
$20 double eagles were recovered from the SS
Central America, many in Mint State.
These coins were conserved by the salvors,
graded by Professional Coin Grading Service,
marketed by the California Gold Marketing Group
and sold through a network of authorized
dealers. The marketing effort emphasized the
coins' storied past and was structured to
attract buyers from far beyond the numismatic
Prior to the wreck's discovery, the majority of
1857-S Coronet double eagles in the marketplace
were in Very Fine to Extremely Fine grades with
Mint State examples coming to market very
infrequently. Today, with the shipwreck coins on
the market, gem examples are plentiful and PCGS
has recorded 907 submissions that have received
grades of MS-65, 182 at MS-66 and 11 at MS-67.
The market has absorbed the vast quantity of
coins, and prices are starting to rise for the
issues at auctions. In 2001, MS-63 examples sold
at auction for $5,000 to $5,500. At a January
2010 auction, one realized $7,475.
Along with coins, large gold ingots were
discovered. In part because of the difficulty of
finding buyers for the mega-sized gold ingots
(for example, the "Eureka" bar weighs 933
ounces), replica pieces were made out of gold
from some of the large old assayer ingots, while
the faces of the bars were carefully cut and
milled to preserve them. Large, 2.5-ounce gold
J.G. Kellogg 1855 "commemorative restrikes" were
produced using transfer dies made from the
The restrike pieces carry the inscription s.s.
central america gold, c.h.s. on the reverse
ribbon, and an incused mark of the date each was
struck. These replicas have recently hovered at
the $3,000 to $3,500 level at auction. The
original release price was $5,000.
Perhaps most popular are the pieces struck on
Sept. 11, 2001, – the date of the terrorist
attacks against the United States, and the
anniversary of the date that the SS Central
America first began to founder.