The allure of coveted treasure from the fabled “Ship of Gold”, SS Central America, resulted in record bids of up to eight times pre-sale estimates for 76 world gold coins in an auction conducted by Ira and Larry Goldberg in Los Angeles and online on June 15, 2021.
“This was the first time these treasure coins recovered from the SS Central America in 2014 were offered in the marketplace. All sold without reserves to different buyers from all over the world. The sale was like the old days: bidding from all over the place and very strong prices, including record prices for date and grade for every coin,” said Larry Goldberg, President of Goldberg Coins and Collectibles, Inc.
“The bidding was over the top with collectors and dealers competing to buy these coins from the famous shipwreck,” Goldberg added.
Among the highlights of the “Treasure from the SS Central America – World Gold” auction:
- Australian 1855 Sydney Mint gold Sovereign, Fr-9; KM-2, graded PCGS MS-62+, made during the first year of that mint’s operations, sold for $55,200 against a pre-sale estimate of $25,000.
- An 1856 Sydney Mint Sovereign, Fr-9; KM-2, PCGS AU-58, brought $31,200 compared to its $12,500 estimate.
- Estimated at $500, a Costa Rica 1855 JB 1/2 Escudo, Fr-10; KM-97, PCGS MS-63, sold for eight times that amount at $4,080.
- Great Britain 1852 Queen Victoria Sovereign, S.3852D; Fr-387e; KM-736.1, PCGS MS-63+; estimated at $1,250 sold for $4,080.
- Netherlands 1840 (Utrecht) King Willem I 10 Gulden, Fr-327; KM-56, PCGS MS=63+, sold for $3,120 against an estimate of $1,000.
- The oldest-dated gold piece recovered from the famous ship, Spain King Ferdinand VII 1809 (Seville) Draped Bust 2 Escudos, Fr-304a; KM-456.1, PCGS AU-50, was estimated at $600 but brought $3,600.
The prices realized include a 20 percent buyer’s premium. Certified by PCGS, the coins were each encapsulated in specially-produced and labeled holders that contain a pinch of recovered Central America gold dust in a separate compartment.
The coins were consigned by California Gold Marketing Group, which purchased the rights to all of the SS Central America treasure recovered in 2014 as well as more than 90 percent of the treasure retrieved during expeditions decades earlier.
“The SS Central America pedigree is perhaps the single most important pedigree in numismatics, covering coin collecting, the Old West and the California Gold Rush, as well as the lure of the sea and sunken treasure,” stated Dwight Manley, Managing Partner of California Gold Marketing Group.
“Combining that with the Goldberg’s exquisite, award-worthy catalog with its unparalleled descriptions and an introduction by Bob Evans, the chief scientist on the 1988-1991 missions that first located and recovered portions of the fabulous treasure and led the 2014 recovery, resulted in such a fantastic sale,” said Manley.
SS 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. The tragedy took the lives of 420 of the ship’s 578 passengers and crew members, and the loss of the gold cargo was a major factor in the economically devastating financial Panic of 1857 in the United States.
The treasure was recovered from the seafloor of the Atlantic, 7200 feet down about 150 miles off the North Carolina coast.