first majestic silver

"Ship of Gold" on the History Channel July 16th

July 14, 2000

Ordinarily, the Atlantic Ocean off of the coast of the Carolinas is a beautiful place enjoyed by millions for recreation, commerce and industry. However, each year, from June through November, the seas off of the Carolina coast can become a treacherous area for mariners. Over the past 200 years, this area has been victimized dozens of times during what has only relatively recently been known as the Atlantic hurricane season. The year 1857 was one of those times.

In September 1857, a massive hurricane plowed through the Atlantic off of the Carolina coast and left America's worst peacetime maritime disaster in its wake. In this tragedy 425 innocent passengers and crew of the steamer SS Central America perished in the huge waves of a forever-unnamed hurricane.

In addition to the immeasurable human costs, there was also a large economic cost associated with the wreck of the Central America; $1.6 million in gold bullion and coins went to the bottom of the sea on board the ship. That loss of gold contributed to the financial panic of 1857.

In 1981, marine biologist Tommy Thompson and a group of highly trained associates set out to find the Central America. After years of diligent research, an effort was made to see if her resting place could be found.

The search began in 1986 and encompassed a search area off of the Carolina coast larger than the state of Rhode Island. In 1987, Thompson's team, now called the Columbus America Discovery Group, investigated a promising site 8,500 feet down. After just 3 hours, an unmistakable image filled the video screens from a camera attached to an underwater robot: a rusting sidewheel lying flat on the bottom of the ocean. Shortly thereafter, the robot discovered the ship's bell from the Central America, confirming the wreck's identity. And so began one of the most sophisticated salvage operations in history.

The Greatest Treasure Ever Found

The coins of the SS Central America are unique in terms of their quality, availability and pedigree. Never before in the history of rare coins has such an offering occurred.

The surviving gold pieces of the SS Central America treasure came to rest 8,500 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. If these coins could talk, what tales they could tell! These were the coins saved and spent by the men and women who carved a young nation out of an untamed wilderness--hardy pioneers who marveled at the gleam of a freshly minted gold piece. These heavy, gold-rich coins were struck from gold strikes on America's western frontier.

These gleaming keepsakes from America's past remain a tangible reminder of our rich heritage. During the more than 130 years that they were hidden at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, America was transformed from a frontier nation to an industrial world power. This historic treasure is a touchstone of the values and ideals that built our great nation.

The inspiring legend of the SS Central America, combined with the awesome beauty of the coins themselves will make these Double Eagles among the most desirable collectibles ever. Each is a stunning piece of American history that will be treasured for years to come. One hundred forty three years after they were struck, these coins still boast sculptured details, golden luster and bold, full strikes that will make them desired by collectors around the world. They will forever remain valuable American reminders of our rich and glorious past.

This is the story of the SS Central America and now it is being told on theHistory Channel. The History Channel will air a one-hour show entitled "Ship of Gold" about the SS Central America on Sunday, July 16th at12:00 Noon Eastern/Pacific.


July 14, 2000

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