SS Central America

The largest known transaction for a numismatic item recently shattered the previous $4.1 million record sale of the 1804 Silver Dollar. A private collector made numismatic history acquiring the “Eureka” bar, which is the largest and heaviest gold numismatic item known to exist, a nearly 80 pound gold monetary ingot pedigreed to the “Ship of Gold.” Finest Known Financial was involved in the placement of the assay ingot, which is now owned by a Forbes 400 business executive who will include it in his own “personal museum.”

The gold bar was fabricated by the assayers of Kellogg & Humbert who was the most successful assayer in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush. Just over 300 never-before-seen Kellogg & Humbert monetary ingots were recovered from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean after resting there for 131 years. This bar, dubbed the “Eureka” bar, was the largest of the ingots and is the largest numismatic artifact known to exist.

The “Eureka” bar was the centerpiece of a $20 million “Ship of Gold” exhibit that traveled the country for 18 months during 2000 and 2001, attracting tens of thousands of viewers. I was personally amazed at the number of people who came to the Long Beach Coin Expo and stood in line just to view these amazing rarities. It was like being at the Smithsonian watching peoples reaction to the “Hope Diamond.” I saw some of the biggest named rare coin dealers in the business come by two or three times a day just to stare!

The “Eureka” bar measures approximately 3 inches by 4.5 inches and 10 inches high. It is stamped with the serial number 1003, weighs 933.94 troy ounces and has fineness of .903. It had a face value in 1857 of $17,433.57. To put that amount into perspective, the Irvine Ranch was purchased for $41,000 in the 1850s. Today that piece of property is known as Orange County, California and ranks among the most valuable property on the face of the planet, worth billions of dollars! In the 1850s, was a sum of money that only a handful of people could have ever hoped to amass in their lifetime. The amount of gold that this historical artifact contains probably would have taken a dozen miners more than a year to find.

If not for the tragic sinking of the SS Central America on September 12, 1857, this bar would have been melted and turned into coinage at the Philadelphia Mint. An incredible set of circumstances subsequently occurred to allow this magnificent rarity to be enjoyed today. After 130 years at a depth of nearly 8,000 feet in the Atlantic Ocean, the “Eureka Bar” and more than 5,000 pioneer gold coins, U.S. gold coins, monetary ingots, nuggets and gold dust, all pedigreed to the California Gold Rush, were recovered by the Columbus-America Discovery Group.

After a seven-year court battle over the rightful ownership was settled, a small group of private investors purchased the treasure and began to distribute the individual pieces to an eager audience. Both collectors and investors have purchased most of the treasure over the past two years.

There were only 532 monetary ingots recovered in the shipwreck, and all were produced by five different assay companies located in San Francisco: 34 from Blake & Co., 37 from Harris, Marchand & Co., 33 from Henry Hentsch Co., 85 from Justh & Hunter and 343 from the offices of Kellogg & Humbert. Fewer than one-third are still available for acquisition and, interestingly, of the 13 giants with face values of $10,000 or more (like the “Eureka”) only five remain, all selling for multiples of $100,000.

Without question, the handling of what Life Magazine called the “Greatest Treasure Ever Found” is and will always be the crown jewel of my career. It is simply the most significant, interesting and exciting numismatic event ever. If you have not yet acquired a piece of this treasure for yourself, time is running out! Of the 7,000 or so pioneer coins and U.S. mint coins in the treasure trove, only a few hundred remain, and only 150 or so of the magnificent monetary ingots.

With an $80 million movie in production by Time-Warner I can’t help but ask myself, “What will happen to the demand for these Ship of Gold pedigreed artifacts when the general public becomes aware of this amazing story? Realizing that only a tiny number of these coins and ingots will ever be on the market at any given time it is very exciting to think of the possibilities! If you agree and would like to discuss any remaining “Ship of Gold” opportunities, give your Finest Known Financial representative a call today.