Recovered gold from SS Islander up for sale for $4 million

Shipwreck salvage in 2012 yields 1,200 ounces
By , Coin World
Published : 03/07/16
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Twelve-hundred troy ounces of Alaskan Gold Rush gold recovered in 2012 from the 1901 shipwreck of the SS Islander is being offered for $4 million exclusively through private treaty by Fred N. Holabird from Holabird Western Americana Collections LLC

The gold is unrefined placer gold contained in five original leather pokes, all sealed, and the contents of a sixth leather poke that broke open during the recovery process, according to Holabird. Holabird is acting as the exclusive agent for the salvors.

Placer gold is often found in alluvial deposits of sand and gravel in modern or ancient stream beds.

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The Islander, a 240-foot-long steamship owned by the Canadian-Pacific Navigation Co., was bound from Skagway, Alaska, to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in the early morning hours of Aug. 15, 1901, when the vessel struck a submerged iceberg in Stephens Passage, next to Douglas Island, shearing the port bow.

The ship sank in 20 minutes, claiming the lives of 40 among the 107 passengers and 61 crewmembers reported aboard.

Records suggest that gold valued then at $275,000 was aboard the Islander, a total that subsequently was quickly reported in news accounts as high as $2 million to $3 million. The gold was in the form of placer gold that was secured in either locking leather mail sacks or gold pokes — elongated leather sacks containing the unrefined gold from Alaska’s Klondike.

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Holabird, mining geologist and owner of Holabird Western Americana Collections LLC in Reno, Nev., says the fineness of the gold discovered in the Alaska-Yukon region varied significantly, from .770 to .900 fine.

A 2015 assay of a sample of the gold recovered in 2012, by American Assay Labs in Sparks, Nev., indicated the fineness of the gold at .800 fine, according to Holabird. 

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