World Coins

Sedwick auctions restrike of 1687 silver shipwreck medal

A modern restrike of a classic 1687 medal for an earlier shipwreck has sold at auction.

Images courtesy of Daniel Frank Sedwick.

A modern restrike of a classic medal for a famous shipwreck has sold at auction. 

The 1971 silver medal from the Turks & Caicos Islands realized a $325 hammer price against an estimate of $225, during Daniel Frank Sedwick LLC’s Nov. 1 and 2 auction.

The medal replicates the 1687 medal issued by Great Britain for the salvage of the Nuestra Señora de la Limpia y Pura Concepción, a Spanish treasure ship that wrecked in 1641 northeast of Hispaniola. 

The 1687 medal was struck from metal that early salvors recovered from the wreck’s cargo, making it a relic medal (the modern replica is not a relic medal). 

The Concepción was one of the most significant Spanish wrecks of all time, serving the Spanish with a loss of more than 100 tons of silver and gold treasure, according to the auction house.

The Concepción was already compromised when it got caught in a storm on the way to Europe, becoming grounded on a reef in an area that became known as the Silver Shoals. Most of the sailors drowned or eventually starved, but the admiral and some of the officers escaped via longboat. 

The wreck was lost until New England’s William Phips (or Phipps) found it in 1687 and recovered tons of silver and some gold, to the delight of his English backers (Phips was knighted for his efforts).

King James II and his wife, Mary, the queen, appear on the obverse of the medal, designed by engraver George Bower. A salvage scene is on the reverse.

The 1971 replica medal weighs 102.42 grams, measures 55 millimeters in diameter and is edge numbered, and it was presented in a box with a matching certificate number. 

The offered medal is “Bright UNC with prooflike luster and deep rainbow toning throughout (with a 3D ‘sunrise’ effect on reverse), some wispy hairlines in fields,” according to the auction firm, and is scarce in its own right due to silver melting in the 1970s, according to the firm. 

“Popular opinion is that the Turks & Caicos struck this medal to stake their claim on the wreck, which is nearby, but in the end the Dominican Republic had the gunboats to enforce their own claim instead,” the firm said.

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