Shipwrecked “Supernova” 1857-S Double Eagle Consigned to Legend Auctions

by CoinNews.net on March 6, 2019 · 23 comments

The spectacular 1857-S Double Eagle, recovered in 2014 from the fabled S.S. Central America and now nicknamed "Supernova" because of its amazing, unique natural toning, will be offered to the public for the first time through Legend Rare Coin Auctions (www.LegendAuctions.com).

Supernova 1857-S Double Eagle PCGS MS67


The amazingly toned S.S. Central America “Supernova” 1857-S Double Eagle. (Photo courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Service, www.PCGS.com.)

Graded PCGS MS67, the coin displays a mixture of vibrant red and deep blue hues over much of its lustrous gold obverse surface as well as remarkable blue and red toning on the reverse.

"I was beyond thrilled when the coin was consigned to Legend Auctions. When it arrived, the magnificent colors were so overwhelming that my hands started shaking holding the coin! This is by far the best toned gold piece I have ever seen," stated Legend Auctions President Laura Sperber.

It will be displayed at the upcoming PCGS Members Only Show at The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, March 20-22, and then offered by Legend in their Regency 32 auction at the PCGS show in New Orleans on May 16.

"It is the most beautifully toned gold coin ever seen! It has amazing blasts of colors, so we named it ‘Supernova’ after something truly cosmic," explained Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group (CGMG) which consigned the coin to Legend.

"This 1857-S $20 has been talked about more than any of the other S.S. Central America coins," said Manley. "I chose Legend to auction the ‘Supernova’ because of their unequalled success in auctioning beautifully toned coins. They’ve become the number one dealer for these unique wonders."

CGMG acquired it and other sunken treasure brought up in 2014 from Ira Owen Kane, Receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership and Columbus Exploration, LLC in a court-approved transaction. CGMG earlier acquired all of the available treasure that was recovered in the late 1980s.

Known as the "Ship of Gold," the S.S. Central America sank in a hurricane in September 1857 off the coast of North Carolina while carrying tons of California Gold Rush coins and gold ingots. There were 578 passengers and crew onboard, but only 153 survived.

The "Supernova" Double Eagle and all the other S.S. Central America coins recovered over the decades have been authenticated and certified by Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com).

"PCGS was tremendously honored to examine and grade this particular coin MS67. Like the cherished ‘Heart of the Ocean’ diamond in the famed movie, Titanic, this coin represents the crown jewel of the S.S. Central America treasures," stated PCGS President Brett Charville.

The coin was discovered more than 7,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in the commercial shipment area near the stern of the shipwreck. It was among piles and stacks of coins that originally were in boxes of Double Eagles being shipped to New York by San Francisco businesses.

For additional information about the coin, contact Legend Rare Coin Auctions at 732-935-1168 or by email at info@LegendAuctions.com.

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Jay m d
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Jay m d

Very cool!

Seth Riesling
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Seth Riesling

This is a cleaned, sea saltwater damaged coin! Pretty colors, but should not be graded Mint State since the coin has copper in it & the surface molecules of the coin’s gold & copper alloy have been altered due to it being in a marine environment with sea water & debris removed from its surface. It is amazing how these auction companies try to make lemonade out of a lemon! Buyer Beware! lol

NumisdudeTX

Dwight M
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Dwight M

This wonder coin was never “cleaned”. This is exactly how it was found. It has zero salt water damage and has full 100% luster. I personally discovered it in a tube of twenties in front of Bob Evans and David Hall in the PCGS building. PCGS published an entire scientific explanation of how this toning occurred, written by Bob Evans, a legitimate scientist and SSCA expert. It is truly one of one from the 6,500 1857-S 20’s that were recovered, and among all 20 Liberty gold coins ever graded.

Jason
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Jason

Thank you for that great information Dwight! Any idea the price estimate?

Dwight M
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Dwight M

Jason, That is a great question. It’s so hard to price a unique item. Especially when I was just told by a top dealer in baseball cards that a “10” 1952 Mickey Mantle can be sold for $10,000,000!! And there are 3 of those !!
I can tell you that the other MS-67 1857-S 20’s from the SSCA sold recently for 175,000-225,000; And in the world of eye popping colorful silver coins, they auction for 5-100 times the value of untoned coins of the same grade.
Obviously, the more valuable something is, the lower the premium will be, but if I was the cataloguer and was forced to put an estimate at the bottom, I would say $350,000 and up.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Respectfully disagree. When the weathering and toning is done naturally it’s not what you call a cleaned/damaged coin. The marine environment is what’s unique about it. How many gold coins do you have that were recovered from a shipwreck and were underwater for over 150 years and have a beautiful tone? I’ll venture to say zero because there aren’t many of them in existence.

larry Goldberg
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larry Goldberg

Join the discussion…I viewed this coin when it was at PCGS. I have been a coin dealer since the late 1950’s. Probably have seen more coins then you have. I have auctioned and sold many great coins in my 60 years plus in the Coin Business. These coins were 1.5 miles deep in the bottom of the sea. Nothing moves around that deep and there cannot be any sea water damaged. The colors are natural and took about 150 years to develope. Not done by any coin dealer just time and where it sat for all that time.By the way the toning can come off the coin with the solution that Bob Evans uses. I saw the way it works and it does not harm the surfaces. Again I believe a coin that sat for over 150 years at the bottom of the sea where nothing moves around there is… Read more »

larry Goldberg
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larry Goldberg

Join the discussion…Another thing I forgot to say the coins were 1.5 miles deep where nothing will move around. Again they sat there for over 150 years. I was also there when some of the coins were conserved and I can tell you that this 1857-S was left just like it was found. Nothing done to it. Too bad you were not there at PCGS when the coins were sorted . I saw it and will never forget this special event . Seth hopefully you will be able to view this coin in person. The photos are nice but not the same as looking at the coin in person. Larry

Seth Riesling
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Seth Riesling

Mr. Manley, We all know these coins were cleaned in a laboratory, no matter what the method. Gold coins of this era and alloy with copper that have never been in the dirty ocean water sometimes have “copper spots” due to the alloy not being mixed sufficiently at the Mint. Just because it has been “curated” in a laboratory doesn’t mean it is the same as a similar 1857-S $20 gold double eagle that has never been in the ocean for nearly150 years. The “pretty rainbow toning” is also technically oxidation damage to the surface molecules of the metal alloy. You are simply trying to market these coins as someone who tries to put lipstick on a pig. I realize it is your job to do that, but it doesn’t change the science of chemistry & metallurgy & the science of numismatics. I just hope the PCGS label has the… Read more »

Dwight M
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Dwight M

This coin has never been curated, cleaned, or even rinsed in water.
Yes, toning is oxidation, and is the same thing could be said of all silver coins . If you think its not your cup of tea, so be it. But it is hands down the most beautiful natural gold coin I’ve ever seen…

Seth Riesling
Guest
Seth Riesling

Yes I have seen displays of these “shipwreck effect” coins at ANA shows. I am not impressed, even after talking to Bob Evans at a show & buying Q. David Bowers 12-pound book (his opus) on California gold history. He & Evans signed the book for me at the coin show. Toning is a very contentious subject I agree. Dark tarnish on silver coins is not preferred by most collectors, but the same oxidation process that causes that “ugly” toning also causes rainbow toning which some collectors like. I just hope consumers know the real story behind the change by the marketing companies from the word “cleaned” to “curated” (both terms mean the same result) in recent years to help sell these coins. Also, it is interesting that if these “super coins” are so great, why do you have to take years to disperse them into the marketplace? It is… Read more »

Seth Riesling
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Seth Riesling

Also, if I owned such a shipwreck coin decades ago and sent it in to PCGS for grading, it would have been returned to me in a “body bag” as ungradable (nowadays they simple say “Unc. Details” without a numerical grade). Such a game!

NumisdudeTX

larry Goldberg
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larry Goldberg

Join the discussion…One more thing. I believe this 1857-S $20 gold coin PCGS MS-67 has a CAC sticker. The CAC sticker means that CAC has approved this grade. Larry G

Seth Riesling
Guest
Seth Riesling

Mr. Manley,

With all due respect, it was in dirty saltwater! The container was not waterproof for about 150 years. If I cracked out of the slab & put one of my MS-67 Morgan silver dollars or an older classic gold alloy coin in a glass of saltwater for some time & sent it in to PCGS or NGC for grading, I hope to G-D they would recognize the fact that the surface, viewed under magnification, had been altered. Your “Monster” coin is a Frankenstein Sir!

NumisdudeTX

Dwight M
Guest
Dwight M

Your commentary is far off base. SSCA gold coins have been cracked out of holders by the hundreds, and upgraded by NGC and even PCGS years later, and never are returned in “body bags”. You have no idea what you are even talking about, but that is what blog forums allow, and every thread has a half baked character like yourself spewing nonsense. Dave Bowers always says don’t get in a fight with a skunk, and this is why. But I am willing to stand up for the truth even if I have to be subjected to comments like yours, which are thoroughly false.

Seth Riesling
Guest
Seth Riesling

Mr. Manley,

That is exactly the type of response I expect from a fellow Public Relations professional protecting his turf. Protecting your dealer network, and the lies you spew, like police officers protect & cover for each other for good or bad. It shows your childish disrespect for a fellow experienced serious numismatist of 43 years and former Public Relations Manager at Heritage. I will not respond further to your disrespectful comments about a contentious subject in the science of Numismatics.

NumisdudeTX

joera
Guest
joera

Seth,
I agree with you. If I had something going on the market I would also say nothing but the best about it. Kinda like a car dealer in one of those whacky car commercials. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this coin I’m sure has many ways of being seen.

Greg Rohan
Guest

Nobody named Seth Riesling has ever worked for Heritage.

Seth Riesling
Guest
Seth Riesling

joera – You are so right! This date & Mint mark is actually a fairly common gold coin. The U.S.Mint struck 970,500 of the 1857-S $20 gold Liberty double eagle coins. Heritage Actions sold a same grade specimen as the coin in this article, MS’67 in January 2012 for just $138,000 ! (And that coin had not sunk with a ship in the nasty, dirty, bacteria, and other organic matter sea saltwater in the ocean & sat in the mucky sea bottom for over 150 years).Is the so-called “pretty” rainbow oxidation damaged surface really worth an approximately estimated $200,000 premium as was quoted here in a response??!! And, PCGS is supposed to be unbiased & impartial on the coins they grade. So why is PCGS President Brett Charville (with only 13 years experience in numismatics) making a public statement included in this press release basically praising how nice this coin… Read more »

Dwight M
Guest
Dwight M

Is every post you make untrue? You claim the MS-67 HA sold in 2012 was not from the ocean? yes it is in a gold SSCA 1 holder with a CAC sticker, as well as thither that HA sold in 2014 for $154,000 with a CAC sticker. Every gem uncirculated 1857-S came from the SSCA, as there were none known prior.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Ignore this clown. Seth we get it you hate the coin. If only there was a block button.

Greg Rohan
Guest

Nobody named Seth Riesling has ever worked for Heritage. I’m the President of Heritage and I’ve been here 32 years.

DWIGHT MANLEY
Guest
DWIGHT MANLEY

Thank you Greg. Wow.