The latest recovery of sunken treasure from the legendary "Ship of Gold," the SS Central America, includes six coins that now comprise the finest known "San Francisco Mint denomination set" for $1, $2.50, $3, $5, $10 and $20 gold pieces, according to the California Gold Marketing Group (CGMG).
The Double Eagle in the recently assembled set is graded PCGS MS67+, the highest grade ever given to any 1857-S $20 by Professional Coin Grading Service.
"It’s the King of Siam set of the SS Central America," declared CGMG Managing Partner Dwight Manley, referring to the coveted special set of United States coins presented in 1836 to the King of Siam (now Thailand) as a diplomatic gift on behalf of President Andrew Jackson.
"Just like they assembled the crème de la crème of coinage from a youthful America for that presentation gift, this stunning San Francisco Mint type set from the California Gold Rush we’ve assembled from the sunken treasure is the greatest set of all the finest known coins. And they all were discovered during the most recent recovery expedition. Some were found securely wrapped inside a ship’s safe," said Manley.
The six coins will be publicly displayed for the first time at booth #225 during the American Numismatic Association 2018 Philadelphia World’s Fair of Money®, August 14-18.
A total of 3,134 gold federal, private mint and world coins from the SS Central America were carefully retrieved from various debris fields and miners’ pokes on the Atlantic Ocean seabed during the last recovery expedition in 2014.
"We now know that dozens of those coins are either the finest known of their kind or tied for finest," said Manley. "Among the best-of-the-best are five exceptionally special 1857-S coins and a stunning 1856-S that are the crème de la crème of all San Francisco Mint coinage, surpassing even the coins in the famous Clapp and Eliasberg collections."
These are the six superlative San Francisco Mint coins recently examined and cataloged by CGMG and will be in the upcoming World’s Fair of Money display:
- 1856-S Type II Liberty Head $1, graded PCGS MS65+, the finest known.
- 1857-S Liberty Head $2.50, PCGS MS64+, tied for finest known.
- 1857-S Indian Princess $3, PCGS MS67, the finest known of all San Francisco Mint $3 gold coins.
- 1857-S Liberty Head $5, PCGS MS66, finest known.
- 1857-S Liberty Head $10, PCGS MS64+, finest known of all San Francisco Mint No Motto variety Eagles.
- 1857-S Liberty Head $20 Spiked Shield variety, PCGS MS67+, with an original, gorgeous red glow luster, and the finest known of any Liberty Head Double Eagle.
"If we’d seen just one gem 1857-S $20 in the 1970s, it would have been the talk of the coin show! The SS Central America treasure is probably the greatest numismatic discovery of all time," asserted PCGS Co-Founder and Collectors Universe, Inc. President David Hall.
"All of these finest knowns and the rarities galore are one of the greatest things to happen in the coin market."
In addition to the San Francisco Mint gold denomination set, CGMG will exhibit other SS Central America treasure, including historic assayers’ ingots as well as California Gold Rush era Fractional and Territorial coins recovered during the 2014 expedition.
Bob Evans, the chief scientist on the 1980’s mission that first located and recovered a portion of the fabulous sunken treasure and who assisted with the 2014 recovery, will be at the exhibit each day during the show to meet with visitors.
At 11 am on Friday, August 17, he will present a lecture, "The Many (and New) Treasures of the SS Central America: Revelations & Stories from the 2014 Recoveries," in room 121B of the convention center.
"This certainly will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many people to see an important portion of America’s greatest sunken treasure," said Manley.
The SS Central America was a 280-foot long, three-masted side-wheel steamship carrying tons of California gold that had been shipped from San Francisco to Panama when she sank in a September 1857 hurricane during a voyage from Aspinwall (now Colón), Panama to New York City.
The loss of the gold cargo was a major factor in the economically devastating financial panic of 1857 in the United States.
The California Gold Marketing Group LLC of Brea, California acquired the 2014 treasure from Ira Owen Kane, Receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership and Columbus Exploration, LLC in a court-approved transaction in November 2017. In 1999, the group acquired all of the available treasure that was recovered in the 1980s.