Ship of Gold Exhibit Draws Record Crowd

by on March 2, 2018 · 10 comments

The "Ship of Gold" exhibit, with $40 million of never-before-displayed California Gold Rush sunken treasure recovered in 2014, attracted record-setting attendance during the February 22-24, 2018 Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp & Sports Collectible Expo.

Dwight Manley, Christina Pascucci, Bob Evans

Dwight Manley, KTLA-TV reporter Christina Pascucci (peering from behind the display) and Bob Evans at “Goldhenge,” a display of 35 of the 45 retrieved SS Central America gold ingots from the 2014 recovery mission. (Photo courtesy of Dwight Manley.)

The exhibit of gold and silver coins, nuggets and California gold dust was housed in a 40-foot long re-creation of the hull of the legendary SS Central America that sank in 1857, and sponsored by California Gold Marketing Group, owner of the trove.

"The three-day February 2018 Long Beach Expo set an overall attendance record for any Long Beach Expo since Collectors Universe, Inc. acquired the show a decade ago, and also set daily attendance records for Thursday, Friday and Saturday visitors. Overall, attendance at the February 2018 show was 43 percent higher than in February 2017," said Cassi East, President of the Long Beach Expo (

"Many members of the public told me they came to see a part of history, and many dealers told me that this was the coolest thing they’ve ever seen," said East.

Some SSCA gold coins

A sample of the gold coins recovered from the SS Central America in 2014 filled one of the display portholes in the Ship of Gold exhibit at the February 2018 Long Beach Expo. (Photo courtesy of Dwight Manley.)

Los Angeles area television stations and TV networks covered the exhibit, and earlier there were stories by Associated Press and CBS This Morning about the treasure and the display. Crowds lined up to view the exhibit each morning when the Long Beach Expo doors opened to the public.

"We had visitors from across the United States and overseas.  One collector told me he came from London, England just to see the exhibit," said Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group.

This was the first public display of a portion of the historic gold and silver coins, gold ingots and gold dust recovered during the 2014 expedition to the Atlantic Ocean site where the Gold Rush-era cargo was lost at sea 161 years ago. The California Gold Marketing Group LLC acquired the treasure from Ira Owen Kane, Receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership and Columbus Exploration, LLC in a court-approved transaction this past November.

"The exhibit included a new type of historic SS Central America item never before seen or displayed: leather satchels (pokes) filled with more than 1,000 ounces of gold bounty mined from the California Gold Rush," exclaimed Manley.

"The gold dust, mother lode quartz gold nuggets and other treasure have been in the original pokes since before Abraham Lincoln was president," he said.

The ship sank 160 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina during a hurricane on September 12, 1857 while carrying tons of gold. There were 578 passengers and crew onboard, and 425 of them perished in the tragedy.

Ingot, pokes, dust, nuggets

Highlights of the February 2018 Ship of Gold exhibit included miners’ pokes unopened since 1857 displayed on a bed of gold dust along with an assayer’s ingot and assorted gold nuggets. (Photo courtesy of Dwight Manley.)

Bob Evans, the chief scientist and historian who has been on all three SS Central America recovery missions dating back to 1988, met with visitors during each day of the show and conducted two standing-room-only seminars about the treasure and its retrieval.

He created a prominent display at the Ship of Gold exhibit by stacking 35 of the 45 recently recovered assayers’ ingots, ranging in size from 7.54 to 319.22 Troy ounces. He dubbed the display "Goldhenge."

Feb 2018 Ship of Gold crowd

A record crowd attended the February 2018 Long Beach Expo to see $40 million of recovered SS Central America treasure in the “Ship of Gold” exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Dwight Manley.)

Evans now is curating and cataloging more than 15,000 U.S. and world gold, silver, and copper coins. A portion of the hoard is currently being certified by Professional Coin Grading Service ( The first of the treasure items are expected to be made available in the marketplace by selected dealers in April.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Mouse March 2, 2018 at 4:34 pm

I would love to have seen those pieces of treasure and history. gold is gold, but those pieces have history. What a find.


Seth Riesling March 2, 2018 at 7:00 pm

I would love to be the Captain of that mock-up ship of gold! lol


Old Collector March 3, 2018 at 2:04 am

The greatest value in this literal “treasure trove” of gold coins, ingots and dust is not that of the metal itself but the priceless historically intriguing, fascinating tale of when and where and how it came to be.

Mouse March 3, 2018 at 8:05 am

Old Collector – Seth – what a job, those who salvaged the historical treasure. As a healthcare professional for more than 27 years, I would give it up in a heartbeat to become a salvage / treasure hunter. Not only for the excitement of the hunt but also unearthing history for the masses.

You all have in going on down south, up here coin shows are a flea market compared to what you all get to experience lol Gotta save my bucks so I can travel to a US show, not only to net work but to hopefully see such a historical treasure trove.

My savings account is for next years Berlin money festival, never been to Germany, and to network and meet the international market / community will be exciting.


Old Collector March 3, 2018 at 10:25 am

I’m sure I mentioned I lived in (then) West Germany for nine years after the same amount of time in post WWII Allied-Occupied Austria. The only Berlin I’ve ever seen is the one that was a divided enclave deep in the Eastern part of a divided Germany. I remember taking the bus tour from West into East Berlin; the entire scene around us was as if we had suddenly gone from 1963 back to 1953 just by crossing the (heavily-guarded, walled-off) border. What was especially interesting was that the Vopos (East German Volkspolizei [People’s Police], who served as the border guards) didn’t care what was brought INTO East Berlin, but on the way back to West Berlin did those goose steppers ever check each and every nook and cranny – including a thorough examination of the underside – of that tour bus to be absolutely sure no one from the Eastern side – the so-called “Workers’ Paradise” – was trying to slip OUT and away from that “glorious socialist lifestyle”!

Mouse March 3, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Old Collector – you have definitely seen and experienced some amazing world history. Could just imagine the coinage you have acquired along the way / precious metals or not – all historical. While in Berlin, I will plan to tour the land and take in the history…and the awesome money festival.


Old Collector March 3, 2018 at 1:17 pm


Yes, I have indeed been fortunate in that regard. Of course, I have to credit my father and his U.S. Military service in wartime and post-war Europe from just after D-Day until his retirement over there in 1980; thirty-six years with the U.S Army in France, Austria and West Germany.
As to my accumulated coinage from those days, it’s most unfortunately long gone. I was foolish enough – the price of immaturity and short-sightedness – to sell my glorious collection in the late 1960’s when I hit a low point in my finances, and regardless of how hard or how long I try I will never be able to assemble the likes of anything even close to it again. It is what it is.
You will love being in Berlin. It is without a doubt one of the world’s great cities for a plethora of reasons, and besides that, do they ever know how to put on fairs and exhibitions, so I have no doubt you are in for a major treat. With the possible exception of Paris’ International Air Show, no other city in Europe can claim to have as many and as rich a selection of massive expositions of any kind as Berlin does!

Seth Riesling March 3, 2018 at 6:53 pm

Mouse –

I attended my first 3 years of high school at the USA Department of Defense Munich American High School in the capital city of the German state of Bavaria – Munich. I lived 1 hour bus ride south in a valley on our smallest & most secret National Security Agency (NSA) base which Hitler built in 1936 outside a small spa town just 20k from the last mountain of the German Alps & on a clear day could see from our apartment the first mountains of the Austrian Alps 45 minutes drive away. I speak German as my second language (my German teacher at MAHS for those 3 years was a Norwegian Governess living in Germany teaching at an American high school! LOL). It was 1976-1979 & I toured Berlin by traveling on the ” troop train” through communist East Germany to West Berlin & had the time of my life! Everything you could want in a large city with a very special history. I bought some coins at a dealership & at a flea market in the old subway tunnels with old subway boxcars converted to little antique stores! I had the best Chinese food outside of The Hague, Netherlands in Berlin! And we stayed just 2 blocks off the main strip with a widow who ran a bed & breakfast in her 3 story row house. Simply an amazing 4 days, 3 nights. It was expensive then & even more so now I hear as Germany is the powerhouse of the EU. High standard of living & high wages = expensive for tourists! Check out the youth hostels for affordable accommodations. You will have a great time in a great metropolitan city for sure Mouse (almost all Germans now speak English since it has been mandatory for all their 4 years of high school since at least when I lived there).


Old Collector March 3, 2018 at 10:52 pm

Seth Riesling,

The world is indeed a small place, and synchronicity so often appears out of nowhere. My high school over there was Heidelberg American, Class of 1965. From there and our previous base in Stuttgart we often ventured down to Berchtesgaden and Garmisch-Partenkirchen for some very enjoyable, relaxing stays during summer vacations. Das waren doch wirklich gute Zeiten. 🙂

Old Collector March 4, 2018 at 11:16 am

Seth Riesling,

Some further thoughts on the prior exchange:

I thought my 45 minute bus ride to middle school (1957-1960) in Stuttgart was long, but your 1 hour ride to school in Munich has that beat.
German is my native tongue, and English is my second language, learned at the American Elementary School in Vienna. I did take two years of Russian at Heidelberg High, taught by an East European German who had fled from the Soviets at the end of WWII.
I took that sealed troop train from West Germany to West Berlin in 1963, and I remember how they had to exchange the locomotive four times for the journey: Once at the BRD-
DDR border, a second time at the DDR-West Berlin border, and the third and fourth times making those same transits in reverse. Just a silly game the East Germans and their Soviet masters played to make our trip through their territory as difficult, annoying and tedious as possible. God bless Communism…not!

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