BREA, CA.- The S.S. Central America, the famous Ship of Gold that sank in 1857 carrying tons of California Gold Rush-era treasure, continues to reveal astonishing numismatic surprises. The latest find is an extremely rare, mint condition Liberty Seated design silver dime struck in 1856 at the San Francisco Mint and now valued at $75,000.
Recovered in 2014 with thousands of other dimes in the ship pursers iron lock box but only recently examined and cataloged by experts, the coin now has been authenticated and certified by Professional Coin Grading Service as Mint State 65 (on a 1 to 70 scale). It is one of only two known at that high grade and with none higher.
The 1856-S dime has an incredibly rare mintage of only 70,000; a mere $7,000 in face value. This example stayed pristine with full luster after a century and a half in the ocean environment, said Dwight Manley, Managing Partner of the California Gold Marketing Group (CGMG) in Brea, California.
We will publicly display this top rarity for the first time at the American Numismatic Associations 2019 Chicago Worlds Fair of Money®, August 13-17, announced Manley.
CGMG acquired all the coins retrieved in 2014 from the fabled S.S. Central America as well as most of the coins found in 1980s recovery expeditions. The group took possession in January 2018 of the sunken treasure recovered in 2014, and a meticulous coin-by-coin examination has continued since then.
During the 2014 recovery expedition, two canvas bags were found in the bottom of the pursers lock box, and one bag contained more than 8,000 dimes.
It quickly became obvious that this was the cash box of the ship, a truly marvelous historical find, said Bob Evans, the chief scientist on the 1980's mission that first located and recovered a portion of the fabulous sunken treasure and who served in that same role with the 2014 recovery.
I saw the 1856-S after I already had examined around 4,000 other dimes from the pursers bag. That big bag sat in the dark, cold, swampy, anaerobic (lack of oxygen) interior of an iron safe for 157 years. But when I first saw it, I could see this dime was mint state, explained Evans.
The S.S. Central America was a 280-foot long, three-masted side-wheel steamship carrying tons of California gold that had been shipped from San Francisco to Panama when she sank in a hurricane on September 12, 1857 during the final leg of a voyage from Aspinwall (now Colón), Panama to New York City. There were 578 passengers and crew on board, but only 153 survived.
The loss of the ships gold cargo was a major factor in the economically devastating financial panic of 1857 in the United States.