To mark the 35th anniversary of the historic 1988 discovery of "the greatest treasure ever found," a $15 million Ship of Gold sunken treasure exhibit will begin a nationwide educational tour with its first port-of-call at the Long Beach Expo (www.LongBeachExpo.com) collectibles show in Long Beach, California, June 22–24, 2023.
The display of recovered California Gold Rush treasures from the 1857 sinking of the fabled S.S. Central America will feature gold coins, assayer’s ingots, gold nuggets, and gold dust.
There will also be a bank treasure shipment box, items from the ship, and recovered passengers’ artifacts including 166-year-old Cuban cigars and the world’s most valuable jeans — gold prospector’s heavy-duty work pants that sold at auction for $114,000 this past December.
"Many of the artifacts in the updated display have not previously been publicly exhibited. But we also will have the return of the mammoth ‘Eureka Bar’ which is considered by many to be a priceless national treasure," said Adam Crum, president of Finest Known (www.FinestKnown.com) in Torrance, California.
"The centerpiece and highlight of the exhibit, the assayer’s ingot nicknamed Eureka is the single largest gold artifact in existence from the California Gold Rush and the most famous and desirable artifact from what Life magazine called ‘The Greatest Treasure Ever Found.’ After its upcoming first public viewing in over 20 years, it will be toured around the globe in a Treasures From The Deep exhibit," he said.
"The Eureka Bar weighs 933.94 Troy ounces, a little over 64 pounds. The ingot’s value in 1857 was stamped by San Francisco assayers Kellogg & Humbert as $17,433.57, but today it’s insured for $10 million," explained Crum.
The Ship of Gold touring exhibit is being organized by Finest Known, Argos Gold Group, and National Treasures I, LLC. The exhibit is housed in a 40-foot-long recreation of the famous ship’s hull.
"The S.S. Central America was a 280-foot long, three-masted side-wheel steamship carrying tons of California Gold Rush treasures from Panama to New York City that sank in the Atlantic Ocean 150 miles off the North Carolina coast during a hurricane on September 12, 1857. It was discovered about 7,200 feet below the ocean’s surface in 1988 by a scientific expedition using a six-ton remote-controlled submersible vehicle," explained Bob Evans, the chief scientist and historian on the recovery missions.
"The tragedy of the S.S. Central America sinking took the lives of 425 of the ship’s 578 passengers and crewmembers, and the loss of the gold cargo was a major factor in the economically devastating financial Panic of 1857 in the United States," said Evans who will be at the Long Beach Expo to meet with visitors and answer questions about the S.S. Central America.
The exhibit also includes a prospector’s recovered saddle bag that contained gold coins, nuggets and gold dust.
Visitors can see the only known complete treasure shipment box from the 1850s California Gold Rush period. An embossed wax seal on the box is still easily readable as "Alsop & Co.," renowned merchants and gold treasure shippers of the era.
The record-setting miner’s pants in the display were discovered in the submerged trunk of first-class passenger John Dement of Oregon, a merchant and military veteran.
The display will also have items found in the trunk of first-class San Francisco "royalty" passengers, Ansel and Adeline Easton, who were on their honeymoon trip to New York.
"After the steamship was overwhelmed and crippled by a hurricane, the captain, Commander William Lewis Herndon, ordered the lifeboats to be launched and the women and children, including Adeline, evacuated to a ship passing nearby. Ansel clung to debris in the water for hours after the ship sank until the crew from another vessel rescued him. Captain Herndon went down with the ship," said Evans.
The Eastons were reunited eight days later when the rescue ships reached port at Norfolk, Virginia.
"It has been years since the Ship of Gold exhibit has been in public, and we are delighted to present both returning and never-before displayed historic California Gold Rush sunken treasure artifacts for people to see in person," stated Crum.
For additional information about treasure from the S.S. Central America, visit www.FinestKnown.com.
The June 22-24, 2023 Long Beach Expo will be held in Hall C of the Long Beach Convention Center at 300 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach, California. For additional information, visit www.LongBeachExpo.com.
Someone paid $114,000 for a pair of pants? I sure hope it was imbued with at least a pound of gold dust. Am always amused at the things people feel they have to own and the ridiculous prices they pay for such items. I wonder what condition the 166 year old cuban cigars were in.
Craig, I too am amused at soggy cigars & rotten jeans called “treasure”… Lol. That man on the sinking ship lost his pants in the shipwreck, but he lived. He was in first class, so why did he have a pair of hard labor worker’s denim jeans in his suitcase in which they were found? Was he mining gold as a side hustle? Also, this press release says that “Life” magazine called the items found in this shipwreck debris area “The Greatest Treasure Ever Found,” but I believe that is hype for sure, as King Tut’s tomb had more than… Read more »
I have the feeling, Seth, that Life, even in its heyday, was in fact never the most reliable of sources and as such was rather easily given to hyperbole.
True, Kaiser, And the guy who bought all this shipwreck booty all at once early on, a one Mr. D.M., probably paid “Life” magazine to say that, & 35 years later he & his cohorts are still marketing the dregs of the mucky & salty underwater tomb…he would probably sell the skeletons of the many deceased passengers in this tragedy if he could… Did you notice that NGC gave him a Mint State 66 with Star grade on the $20 gold coin pictured…90% gold & 10% copper that is environmentally damaged & obviously cleaned. He sold almost all of his… Read more »
Thanks for the overview of this overblown and overhyped treasure saga, Seth. As for the cleaned $20 gold coin, I recently watched an inadvertently hilarious “How to clean your coins video” on Youtube; practically the only treatment they didn’t recommend was a plasma torch.
I hear you on the coin cleaning issue. Some companies are still selling coin cleaning solutions in bottles labeled as such which are just weak acid chemicals & harsh detergents… The number one rule in numismatics is never clean a coin!
The coin grading services, internally, call these cleaned coins by the slang words “dipped” & “whizzed” & label them in the slabs without a numerical grade as “Details” designation (one example on the label would read: “Unc Details – Cleaned”, and therefore a coin worth tons less.
Seth, With all that I know about not cleaning coins, a while ago I proceeded to rather vigorously use a silver polishing cloth on a Mexican 100 Peso silver coin and brought it right up to a glittering and likely essentially worthless shine. It had been given to me over thirty years ago by my since then long departed best friend on the occasion of my second marriage. I often wonder if the gods have a great big laugh at our expense when we do something so stupid that it literally beggars the imagination. In my opinion, it is my… Read more »
At least it still has its intrinsic silver value & much more as a nice memento from your friend. And, at least you didn’t dip it in an acid bath like some have unaware of the damage till they try to sell a cleaned coin.
Cuban cigars!! It would be interesting to see if they were still held their shape and if the wrapping style has changed over the years. After that… smoke’em if you got’em!!
For sure, East Coast Guru, and have a blowtorch at hand to keep them fired up.
I hope, Craig, the buyer will report on the flavor of saltwater taffy Havana tobacco.