S.S. Central America Sunken Treasure World Gold Coins in Goldberg Auction


First offering of these historic coins retrieved in 2014 from Atlantic Ocean site where fabled “Ship of Gold” sank in 1857

Two of the finest known, very rare 1855 and 1856 Australian sovereigns as well as an interesting mix of 74 other sunken treasure gold coins from Europe and South America that were also recovered from the fabled “Ship of Gold,” the S.S. Central America, will be offered in an auction by Goldberg Coins & Collectibles (www.GoldbergCoin.com). The auction will be conducted in Los Angeles and online, June 13-16, 2021.

“These 76 gold pieces were among 82 world gold coins retrieved during the 2014 recovery expedition to the Atlantic Ocean site where the legendary ship sank during a hurricane while sailing to New York City in 1857,” said Larry Goldberg, co-owner of the auction company. “This is the first time these recovered sunken treasure coins from Australia, Bolivia, Costa Rica, France, Great, Britain, Netherlands, Peru, and Spain have been offered.”

The Australian 1855 Sydney Mint gold sovereign, Fr-9, KM-2, now graded PCGS MS62+, was made during the first year of that mint’s operations. An 1856 Sydney Mint sovereign, Fr-9, KM-2, now graded PCGS AU58, also was incredibly recovered.

1855 Australia Sovereign 1855 Australia Sovereign

“It is fascinating to think how these coins got to San Francisco where their journey to New York began. Were they carried by an Aussie miner seeking his fortune during the California Gold Rush or acquired as winnings in a gold camp poker game? Those two coins were onboard when the S.S. Central America went down 164 years ago,” said Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group, which consigned the 76 recovered world gold coins to the Goldberg auction.

Among the other especially notable world coins recovered in 2014 and in the auction are:

  • Great Britain 1852 Queen Victoria Sovereign, S.3852D, Fr-387e, KM-736.1, PCGS MS63+;
  • Great Britain 1855 Queen Victoria Sovereign, S.3852D, Fr-387e, KM-736.1, PCGS MS62;
  • Costa Rica 1855 JB 1/2 Escudo, Fr-10, KM-97, PCGS MS63;
  • France 1855-A Napoleon III 20 Francs, Fr-573, KM-781.1, PCGS MS61;
  • Netherlands 1840 (Utrecht) King Willem I 10 Gulden, Fr-327, KM-56, PCGS MS63+; and
  • Spain King Ferdinand VII 1809 (Seville) Draped Bust 2 Escudos, Fr-304a, KM-456.1, PCGS AU50, the oldest-dated gold piece recovered from the famous ship.

Each of the PCGS-certified world coins is encapsulated in a specially produced and labeled holder that contains a pinch of recovered S.S. Central America gold dust in a separate compartment. The insert labels include a statement of authenticity hand-signed by Bob Evans, the chief scientist on the 1988-1991 missions that first located and recovered portions of the fabulous treasure and assisted with the 2014 recovery. Evans wrote the introduction to the auction catalog’s section on these coins.


“The S.S. Central America treasure is a remarkable time capsule of economic practices in 1857, representing a specific, important moment in United States and world history: the outflow of wealth from Gold Rush California along the commercial artery that was the Panama Route. The treasure illustrates that world gold coins were an integral part of California and international trade during this exciting decade of burgeoning commerce in the 1850s,” explained Evans.

The S.S. 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 on September 12, 1857, in a hurricane during the final leg of a voyage from Aspinwall (now Colón), Panama, to New York City. The tragedy took the lives of 420 of the ship’s 578 passengers and crew members, and the loss of the gold cargo was a major factor in the economically devastating financial panic of 1857 in the United States.

The treasure was recovered from the seafloor of the Atlantic, 7,200 feet down, about 150 miles off the North Carolina coast.

For additional information about the auction, contact Goldberg Coins and Collectibles by phone at (310) 551-2646; by email at info@GoldbergCoins.com; and online at www.GoldbergCoins.com.


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