Divers Uncover Rare Gold Coins on Shipwreck Site

SourcingOct 08, 2019

Divers Uncover Rare Gold Coins on Shipwreck Site

The SS North Carolina sank in 1840, leaving its cargo and passengers’ belongings behind.

Blue Water Ventures International’s divers recovered several $5 gold pieces dating from the mid-1830s from the shipwreck site of the SS North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Blue Water Ventures International’s Facebook page)

Jacksonville, Fl.—The Steamship North Carolina sank in 1840 after colliding with its sister ship the Governor Dudley, sending its passengers fleeing to safety and their belongings down into the depths.

Nearly 180 years later, divers have recovered some of those belongings, specifically, several $5 gold pieces dating from the mid-1830s, according to Blue Water Ventures International and its partner Endurance Exploration Group.

The September 2019 find is the result of months of archaeological field work, said the Florida-based company, including magnetometer surveys.

BWVI estimated the hard currency lost on the ship would be worth “many millions of dollars” in today’s value.

Some gold coins may have been from the US Mint in Dahlonega, which opened in 1838, two years prior to the ship’s sinking.

Coins from the Georgia-based mint, which was only open for 24 years, are “extremely valuable in today’s collectors’ market,” said the company., a site run by Georgia-based gold buyers Hancock & Harwell, says that “Regardless of denomination, any high grade Dahlonega gold coin with a good strike and excellent eye appeal is a real treasure and based on past history has been a blue chip coin investment.” 

Blue Water Ventures’ recovery vessel, the Blue Water Rose, and its dive team uncovered the coins as well as marble, dinnerware, and brass spikes said to be part of the ship’s construction.

“After working the first half of the 2019 dive season on several wreck sites, some famous, some not, with the goal of future admiralty claims, it’s great to be back in recovery mode on the SS North Carolina, especially when you see gold coins the very first day on site!” said company president Keith Webb in a press release.

The company plans to continue recovery efforts during the months of October and November, as long as weather permits.

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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