Joe O

Money Bytes

Joe O'Donnell

Joe O’Donnell, digital content producer, joined the Coin World editorial staff in 2014. Joe writes web content, manages Coin World’s social media accounts, compiles content for daily digital eNewsletters, and contributes on occasion to the print magazine. He has enjoyed interacting with Coin World readers while covering the sale of coins from the Saddle Ridge Hoard and the 50th anniversary Kennedy half dollar releases.

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The £34 million worth of silver coins from SS City of Cairo wreck have been melted

We reported last week on the remarkable recovery of £34 million in silver rupees from the site of the SSCity of Cairo shipwreck that took place 500 miles off the coast of St. Helena in the south Atlantic in 1942.

With good reason, people and media members like me were excited that $50 million worth of silver coins were pulled up from 17,000 feet under the surface of the ocean, a record depth according to Deep Ocean Search, the firm that carried out the recovery that received online publicity from Daily Mail,Reuters and CNN, among many others.

After all, these are coins with a great story: the 296-passenger SS City of Cairo was bound for England from Bombay with its 100 tons of silver belonging to the UK Treasury when it was sunk by a Nazi U-boat.

One might assume they would make for a great auction items or museum exhibit, right?

Wrong.

Here's an excerpt from The Guardian's coverage:

"The salvage was completed in September 2013, but Deep Ocean Search has only now been given permission by the Department for Transport to announce it. The coins have since been melted down in the UK and sold, with the undisclosed sum divided between the Treasury and the salvagers."

Melted? Undisclosed sum divided up?

Buzzkill.

Bill Gibbs, Coin World's senior news editor, was not surprised.

"Well, the coins were probably mostly common and silver tends to deteriorate when exposed to saltwater," Gibbs wrote in an email to me.

So I guess that's where the story ends. SS City of Cairo silver rupees, we hardly knew ye.

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