Precious Metals

New reference details gold, silver recovered in 2014 from SS Central America

An extensive history behind the 2014 recovery of gold and silver coins, gold ingots and other artifacts from the 1857 shipwreck of the SS Central America is the focus of a recently released reference book.

America’s Greatest Treasure Ship: the S.S. Central America – the Second Treasure-Finding Journey, is written by noted numismatic researcher and author Q. David Bowers with Dwight N. Manley, and contains a foreword by Bob Evans.

“I wanted to have a book that was easy to reference, almost like a Photograde of the best of each item found,” Manley said. 

“We de-emphasized the people that pulled it up and focused more in the rich history and amazing new numismatic discoveries. The creme de la creme set will be a forever icon in coins,” Manley said.

Manley is the managing partner for California Gold Marketing Group, and secured the rights not only to market the treasure recovered during the initial salvage operations in the late 1980s, but retaining those rights for the 2014 recovery and any subsequent salvage efforts.

Evans served as the chief scientist and historian for the SS Central America Project and curated the treasure from all of the recovery efforts.

The 224-page, hard-cover book is profusely illustrated with more than 500 illustrations.

The reference incorporates a complete accounting of each coin and ingot recovered totaling more and 15,000 U.S. and world gold and silver coins and 45 assayers ingots.

The coins are listed by date, Mint mark and type, the number of each recovered and illustrated with the finest recovered example of each.

In addition to the federal coins from the U.S. Mint, large numbers of privately produced gold coins, including California fractional gold, were recovered. 

All of the coins were graded and encapsulated by Professional Coin Grading Service after Evans curated each piece to remove encrustation without disturbing the surface metal.

The book contains a passenger and crew manifest with mini biographies on each individual aboard the SS Central America when it sank off the North Carolina coast on Sept. 12, 1857, during a hurricane.

The book also includes excerpts and multiple photographs from Coin World’s February 2018 visit to PCGS headquarters in California to document Evans’ curating process.

The SS Central America was a 280-foot-long side-wheel steamship carrying tons of California gold when it sank off the coast of North Carolina in a September 1857 hurricane during a voyage from Aspinwall (now Colón), Panama, to New York City. There were 578 passengers and crew on board, but only 153 survived.

The loss of the gold cargo more than 7,000 feet below surface of the Atlantic Ocean contributed to the economically devastating financial panic of 1857 in the United States that had begun in New York City in August.

The just-released reference is intended to be a companion to Bowers’ 2002 book, A California Gold Rush History Featuring Treasure from the S.S. Central America.

America’s Greatest Treasure Ship: the S.S. Central America – the Second Treasure-Finding Journey is available for $49.95 (plus taxes and shipping) from: Blanchard & Company (; Finest Known (; Goldberg Coins & Collectibles (; and Universal Coin & Bullion (

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