Nearly 300 gold coins discovered nearly 300 years after the famous 1715 Plate Fleet shipwreck are now coming to the market.
The coins are worth an estimated $1 million or more, according to John Albanese, who brokered the deal between the salvors and the firms now selling the coins.
More than 200 of the coins were found July 30 and 31, 2015, the 300th anniversary of the hurricane that drove 11 of 12 ships to the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
The treasure was found in only six feet of water just 100 feet from the beach in Vero Beach, Fla., by salvors working for 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels LLC.
The discovery was “the largest find of gold coins from the 1715 Plate Fleet wreck in 30 years,” said Brent Brisben, who owns the Capitanaship that was used during the recovery, and is co-founder and operator of 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels.
Brisben and 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels in 2010 purchased the treasure rights to the 1715 Plate Fleet from heirs of Mel Fisher and his family. Since taking over the rights, Brisben and subcontractors have recovered more than $6.5 million worth of treasure, he said.
“To be the first person to touch these coins in 300 years, it’s a magical experience and one I’ll never forget,” Brisben told Coin World. “To have it happen literally 300 years to the day is pretty much a magical thing.”
The anniversary find was worth some $4.5 million, Brisben said, and included 300 gold coins of various sizes, and seven gold Royal presentation coins (these were specially prepared with the intent of being used as royal gifts and thus have limited mintages and are extremely rare).
In total, after several salvage efforts, 350 gold coins and nine Royals were recovered in 2015, with the Royals representing much of the value. In addition, one of the contractors on June 17, 2015, discovered 21 coins worth an estimated $1 million.
Some of the coins from all the recoveries were given by the company to its crewmembers and subcontractors as their share of the recoveries, and all the large Royal presentation pieces were privately sold earlier this year to anonymous collectors for an average of $275,000 each, Brisben said.
The most expensive Royal was sold for $425,000, according to Brisben. The state of Florida received 1711 and 1712 examples of the Royal presentation coins as part of its 20 percent reward, for permanent residence in the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee.