FUN 2017: Huge gold ingots recovered from the SS Central America still making a splash

The item pulled from the famous shipwreck topped Heritage’s Platinum Night auction on Jan. 5
By , Coin World
Published : 01/06/17
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The following is part one of our 2017 FUN Platinum Night auction coverage. Links to additional coverage can be found at the bottom of this post.

A huge gold ingot recovered from a famous shipwreck topped Heritage’s Platinum Night auction on Jan. 5 at the Florida United Numismatists show in Fort Lauderdale.

The 327.97-ounce gold ingot emerged from the wreck of the SS Central America nearly 30 years ago and was produced during the California Gold Rush by Justh & Hunter, a company that was little-known until 86 of its gold bars were discovered on the Central America.

While the bar is not dated, Justh & Hunter began advertising in California newspapers in May 1855 and the ship sank in a hurricane in September 1857. To put its size in perspective: it weighs 20.49 pounds and at its time of casting had a value of $6,162.78. At the FUN auctions it sold for $564,000.

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The “heavy metal” came from the Arizona Treasure Collection, a consignment that included several other important bars from the California Gold Rush. Perhaps the most handsome was a beautifully crusty 179.5-ounce gold Justh & Hunter ingot that realized $376,000. All six sides showed evidence of its time in the rusted iron hull of the SS Central America via reddish-brown color, adding character and reminding its owner of its long, undisturbed time in the Atlantic Ocean.

2017 FUN Convention: Check out the full schedule!

The leading gold coin in the auction, at $352,500, was also from the California Gold Rush era — an 1851 RE Humbert 887 THOUS. gold $50 pioneer “slug” graded Mint State 63 by Professional Coin Grading Service.

It’s the finest example certified of the enduringly popular type by PCGS. Heritage writes, “the importance of the 1851 fifty dollar gold coins can scarcely be overemphasized. Ask any advanced collector of Territorial gold to name the most significant and memorable coinage design from the early California Gold Rush period, and the Humbert-U.S. Assay Office octagonal fifty dollars will likely be the first named.”

More 2017 FUN Platinum Night coverage:

1792 Silver Center pattern centFUN 2017: The high-priced rarities that fell short of their minimum bids: A number of the anticipated top lots at Heritage's FUN 2017 Platinum Night auction failed to meet their reserves set by consignors.

1802 Draped Bust half dime'FUN 2017: The early U.S. numismatic treasures that headlined the year's first major sale: There were no million dollar standouts in this year’s offering. But that does not mean there weren't any notable coins exchanging hands..

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