Collect Shipwreck Coins
One of the neat things about numismatics is that it brings the coin collector in confluence with history. Most collectors are aware that the images on coins commemorate different people, ideas, circumstances and events. If you are one of the few who actually collect shipwreck coins, you are keenly aware of the history with which you are in tune. If you don’t collect shipwreck coins, you may wish to become aware of this amazing numismatic niche. Shipwreck coins from the ill-fated S.S. New York, S.S. Central America, S.S. Republic, and the S.S. Yankee Blade are all examples of coins that are coveted by many collectors.
The beauty of this arena is that many shipwrecks of yesteryear were carrying valuable cargo. Indeed some of this cargo was gold and silver coinage. Before modern times, sailing was a perilous endeavor. Many a vessel found itself on stormy seas, no recourse to GPS or modern weather reporting, and was sunk by foul weather or some other misfortune. Not to mention the ships with valuable cargo lost in the 20th century during WW I and WW II.
The interesting thing is that today, the location of many old shipwrecks are well known, especially those off the East Coast of the US and in the Gulf of Mexico. Many treasure hunters look for this data and conduct their own quests for fame and fortune. Across the globe, many other wrecks have occurred throughout the centuries, and for many of these their locations still remain a mystery. Even today, ancient coin treasures are found…and are available to collectors.
Some recent shipwreck coins in the news
Perhaps amazingly, discoveries of old coins are rather commonly found in or from shipwrecks even today. Earlier this year, Israeli divers came upon a trove of gold coins from a 1000-year-old shipwreck in the harbor of the biblical city of Caeserea. In another recent case, a British-led team recovered a $50m treasure of silver coins from the SS City of Cairo, a steamship en route from Bombay to England, that had been stranded on the seafloor since being sunk by a German U-boat in World War II.
Where to obtain and collect shipwreck coins
Have a look on Amazon and eBay for old shipwreck coins. In many cases, you’ll have to search carefully, because this is not a major search term, and some of these coins may escape easy detection, even on these sites. Nonetheless, the thrill of the hunt can be fantastic!
This is a coin collecting niche that is somewhat obscure, but the historical and monetary rewards can be great for those who look into it. Be sure to visit the recent article on collecting shipwreck coins by Rick Bretz in Coin Week. You will learn a lot from him.
Here’s an interesting book that will get you up on the learning curve:
Numismatic Finds of the Americas: An Inventory of American Coin Hoards, Shipwrecks, Single Finds and Finds in Excavations