Researchers chart discovery of coins from 1785 shipwreck

Philadelphia-bound Faithful Steward sinks along Delaware coast
Published : 11/08/11
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In the fall issue of The C4 Newsletter, a quarterly publication of the Colonial Coin Collectors Club, Roger A. Moore and Wayne H. Shelby explore the discovery of coins that turned up on the beaches of Rehoboth Beach, Del., some years after the Sept. 2, 1785, wreck of the Faithful Steward during a hurricane.

The vessel, sailing for Philadelphia from Londonderry, Ireland, on July 9, 1785, was believed to have been carrying as many as 360,000 halfpence, “most thought to be light-weight counterfeit Irish and British coins, as well as an assortment of silver and gold coinages,” according to Moore and Shelby. The vessel sank after being driven onto the shoals of the Indian River off the coast of Delaware.

Eventually, coins carried in the hold of the vessel began to be washed up on shore, in an area that came to be called “Coin Beach.” “The timing of the finds is not well documented but evidence points to the late 1800s to early 1900s as the time coins were actively collected,” according to the writers.

After subsequent storms over the decades, additional coins washed up on the beach front.

Evidently, Delaware’s Coin Beach continued to yield coppers and artifacts, as well as some gold and silver coins, according to Moore and Shelby. “Most of the silver coins were evidently Spanish reales and pillar dollars, while the gold coins were English Rose Guineas.”

Shelby noted that during a coin show in Wilmington, Del., in January 2011, a show attendee was trying to sell a group of the coins his grandfather had recovered during walks on “Coin Beach” during the 1930s. The group of 25 coins comprised English and Irish King George II and III halfpence, some of them counterfeit, others indiscernible due to corrosion, according to the writers.

In another article, Leo Shane addresses whether tale coins from China circulated in Colonial America. William Gleckler looks at the differences between die varieties and die states when examining Connecticut coppers. Buell Ish analyzes die clashes on a variety of 1787 New Jersey copper, Maris 43-Y (cataloged in The Coins of New Jersey by Edward Maris).

John Kraljevich reviews summer 2011 auctions. Jeff Rock contributes information about fixed-price lists for Rosa Americana coinages and the collectibility of the lists themselves.

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Checks for dues payments should be made payable to Colonial Coin Collectors Club or C4 and mailed to Charlie Rohrer, C4 Treasurer, P.O. Box 25, Mountville, PA 17554. Rohrer can be reached by email at The website is at ■

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