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Hefty, Historic Gold Bar Highlights November Auction

by Heritage Auctions

Published on October 28, 2020

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Heritage Auctions will be selling a great piece of shipwreck history as part of the November US Coin Auction #1321. The S.S. Central America shipwreck occurred in the 1850s and forever changed numismatic history.

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Heritage Auctions will be selling a great piece of shipwreck history as part of the November US Coin Auction #1321. The S.S. Central America shipwreck occurred in the 1850s and forever changed numismatic history. This 280-foot sidewheel ship regularly operated between Central American and the eastern coast of the United States in the 1850s until a hurricane in 1857 sunk the mighty boat, weighed down heavily with a huge treasure of gold coins and bars.

Rather than these pieces arriving to their destination and being used in commerce, they sat for years at the bottom of the ocean--primarily in uncirculated condition but covered in corrosive seawater. Thanks to careful expeditions of divers with new technology and gentle conservation, these coins and bars were eventually recovered and made available to the collecting public. Many of the coins and bars are actually in amazing condition today, after conservation, because they were never spent and used in commerce.

Pieces that were rescued from the S.S. Central America are very popular with collectors today. Some of the most impressive items of all from this shipwreck were the massive gold bars that survived their watery journey in surprisingly excellent condition.

The lot up for bid in the November auction is a hefty 46.53 ounce gold bar, created by Kellogg & Humbert Assayers. The bar is stamped with what it would have been worth in terms of 1857 prices, or $887.79 in gold. Today, however, the bar will sell for over $100,000 today--a huge increase in price over the last 150+ years!

This bar, along with several other pieces of shipwreck history, was put together by a coin collector, scuba diver, and American patriot who became fascinated by the story of these coins' and bars' recovery from the watery depths. He pursued several top examples and is now sharing his collection with bidders as part of John's SS Central American Collection.



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