World Coins

Swedish copper plate money from wreck in auction

A piece of copper 1750 Swedish plate money, bound for India in 1783 before a storm sent it to the ocean floor, is offered in Stephen Album Rare Coins’ sale No. 28, on May 18 to 20.

Coin image courtesy of Stephen Album Rare Coins.

When thinking of coins found in shipwrecks, the mind likely wanders to silver and gold. 

But one lot from the Stephen Album Rare Coins May 18 to 20 auction is evidence that coins of other metals are sometimes recovered from the sea.

The auction includes a piece of copper plate money, denominated 2 dalers. The Swedish money was issued in 1750, late during the reign of King Frederik I. 

The plate money was recovered from the wreck of the Nicobar, which went down in a July storm in 1783, off the coast of False Bay (Valsbaai), South Africa. The wreck was rediscovered in 1987 by local fishermen, who salvaged some 3,000 copper plates. 

The wreck is one of just a few famous shipwrecks of the Danish East India Company. 

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The Nicobar was outbound to India with a load of Swedish copper plate money. Demonetized in 1777, these plates were being shipping to India for manufacture into Danish Indian coinage. According to research cited by the auction house, most plates known of this type are from the wreck. 

This example measures 190 millimeters wide and 165 millimeters tall. Though the plate is corroded, the central stamp and one corner stamp remain readable. 

According to the auction house, the example is in Very Good condition.

It has an estimate of $100 to $150.

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