SS Central America dive yields 60 pounds of gold for explorers

Explorers have retrieved 60 pounds of gold from the legendary "Ship of Gold", the SS Central America, which was wrecked in a storm in 1857.

SS Central America ingot
One ingot from the ship was once the world's most valuable currency, selling for $8m in 2001

The wreck, which lies off the coast of South Carolina, has long been known to collectors, with ingots selling for thousands at auction to numismatists.

The sunken hoard was first plundered by Tommy Thompson in 1988, who was paid up to $13m by investors to do so. However, Thompson ran off with $57m in ingots, and has been a fugitive for nearly two years after failing to show up to court.

A court ruling in March allowed the current exploration to go ahead, with Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa, Florida in charge of the search. Its first voyage to the sea bed yielded 60 pounds of gold, including two $20 Double Eagle coins, minted at San Francisco in the year the ship sank.

The original investors in Thompson's exploration will get more than half the proceeds of the search, with some estimating that more than $86m of gold has yet to be brought to the surface.

The SS Central America was a steamship that ran between Panama and New York, and was frequently used by prospectors and banking companies to transport their gold. At the time of sinking, the commercial gold on board was valued at $93,000, while passenger gold was worth up to $1.2m.

The sinking caused alarm in New York's banking institutions, contributing to the Panic of 1857.

With the market price of gold at around $1,300 per troy ounce, it may be more profitable to sell the ingots to collectors, meaning many could be seen on the market in years to come.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a fantastic selection of rare gold coins for sale - discover the next addition to your collection today.

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