A gold ingot salvaged from the wreckage of the SS Central America is to star at Bonhams' Coins & Medals auction in California on September 2.
Also known as the Ship of Gold, the SS Central America was a 280-foot sidewheel steamer that was sunk by a hurricane off the east coast of the US in 1857. At the time of sinking, the ship was weighed down with 10 tons of gold prospected during the California gold rush.
The worth of the gold carried aboard the Central America was valued at approximately $2m, which shook public confidence in the economy and contributed to the panic of 1857. The ship was eventually located in 1987, when a group of divers was sent to recover the gold, coins and various artefacts that had sank with it. After an intense legal battle, 92% of the gold was awarded to the discovery team in 1996.
A gold ingot weighing 80 pounds was sold in 2001 for $8m and was recognised as the most valuable piece of currency in the world at the time. The ingot at auction weighs considerably less - 40.56 ounces - and is stamped: "No.648 Kellogg & Humbert Asssayers 40.56 oz 8.87 Fine". Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the group that discovered the wreckage and a custom made presentation box, it is expected to bring $120,000-140,000.
Also featuring from the wreckage will be an 1857-S $20 coin, which has been graded MS66. Before the treasure was discovered, the 1857-S double eagle was a highly coveted piece for US collectors. The dispersal of the ship's cargo has since seen thousands made available to collectors; however few of the recovered coins match the condition of the example at auction. It will sell for $30,000-35,000.
Collectors will have the chance to bid on more coins recovered from the SS Central America wreckage on August 4, when the Pueblo Collection of US Gold Coins appears in the ANA World's Fair of Money auctions.
Paul Fraser Collectibles has a superb range of investment-grade rarities currently on offer, which is led by our stunning collection of Italian gold coins. See the incredible highlight of the collection here.