World Coins

Atocha silver bar among Sedwick's May auction lots

The search for sunken shipwreck treasure often takes decades, high tech equipment and lots of money.

In an upcoming auction, however, only the latter is required, because once again Florida auction house and coin dealer Daniel Frank Sedwick LLC offers items recovered from shipwrecks among their marquee lots.

The firm’s Treasure, World, U.S. Coin & Paper Money Auction No. 21 is scheduled to be conducted on May 3 and 4.

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Leading the sale is a pair of items related to one of the most famous and fantastical shipwrecks of all time, the 1622 Nuestra Señora de Atocha, which wrecked west of the Florida Keys on Sept. 6, 1622, during a fierce hurricane.

A large silver bar, weighing 83 pounds, 7.52 ounces in the troy weight system has an estimate of $35,000 and up. 

The silver bar is among perhaps 1,000 silver bars recovered from the shipwreck, according to the firm. 

One month after the sinking, a second hurricane scattered the wreck, preventing the Spanish authorities from recovering its treasure. 

The silver bar was minted at Potosi, in what is modern-day Bolivia, and features a foundry or assayer mark of MEXIA in a cartouche. 

Five tax stamps (of two different designs, three with lions and castles and two with monogram) appear on the silver loaf-shaped bar. The .9875 fineness is indicated in Roman numerals translating to 2370 (out of 2400). The manifest No. 932 indicates its inclusion in the Atocha’s cargo. 

The bar measures 13.75 inches long, 4.75 inches wide and 3.75 inches tall. 

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Most of standard tax stamps appear to be more complete than usual, according to the auction house. The middle of the top of the bar contains the usual peanut-shaped assayer’s “bite.” 

“The surface of this bar is relatively uncorroded, with a couple small pits on top that existed before sinking and mostly contain small pieces of coral now,” according to the auction house.

A numbered photo-certificate as issued by treasure hunter Fisher accompanies the lot.

Another treasure find from the Atocha appearing in the auction is a gold and red-coral rosary. The rosary was featured in the June 1976 issue of National Geographic and is pedigreed to a 1988 Christie’s auction. The rosary is estimated at $25,000 and up.

A full catalog of all lots in the auction will be posted in early April to the firm's website

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