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Public lines up to see gold treasure

Sunken treasure drew a record crowd at the February Long Beach Expo Feb. 22-24.

The Ship of Gold Exhibit, featuring gold and silver coins, nuggets and California gold dust, was a 40-foot long recreation of the hull of the legendary SS Central America that sank in 1857. It was sponsored by California Gold Marketing Group, owner of the trove.

A record crowd attended the February 2018 Long Beach Expo to see $40 million of recovered sunken treasure in the “Ship of Gold” exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Dwight Manley.)

“Overall, attendance at the February 2018 show was 43 percent higher than in February 2017,” said Cassi East, president of the Long Beach Expo.

Los Angeles area television covered the exhibit, and earlier there were stories by Associated Press and CBS This Morning about the treasure and the display.

Dwight Manley, KTLA-TV reporter Christina Pascucci (peering from behind the display) and Bob Evans at “Goldhenge,” a display of 35 of the 45 retrieved “SS Central America” gold ingots from the 2014 recovery mission. (Photo courtesy of Dwight Manley.)

“We had visitors from across the United States and overseas. One collector told me he came from London, England, just to see the exhibit,” said Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group.

Gold coins recovered from the “SS Central America” in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Dwight Manley)

This was the first public display of a portion of the historic gold and silver coins, gold ingots and gold dust recovered during the 2014 expedition to the Atlantic Ocean site where the Gold Rush-era cargo was lost at sea 161 years ago. The California Gold Marketing Group LLC acquired the treasure from Ira Owen Kane, Receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership and Columbus Exploration, LLC in a court-approved transaction this past November.

“The exhibit included a new type of historic SS Central America item never before seen or displayed: leather satchels (pokes) filled with more than 1,000 ounces of gold bounty mined from the California Gold Rush,” Manley said.

Highlights of the Ship of Gold exhibit included miners’ pokes, unopened since 1857, and displayed here on a bed of gold dust along with an assayer’s ingot and assorted gold nuggets. (Photo courtesy of Dwight Manley)

“The gold dust, mother lode quartz gold nuggets and other treasure have been in the original pokes since before Abraham Lincoln was president,” he said.

The ship sank 160 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, during a hurricane on Sept. 12, 1857.

Bob Evans, the chief scientist and historian who has been on all three recovery missions dating back to 1988, met with visitors during each day of the shoow.

He now is curating and cataloging more than 15,000 U.S. and world gold, silver and copper coins. A portion of the hoard is currently being certified by Professional Coin Grading Service. The first of the treasure items are expected to be offered for sale by selected dealers in April.


This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today


More Collecting Resources

• Is that coin in your hand the real deal or a clever fake? Discover the difference with U.S. Coins Close Up, a one-of-a-kind visual guide to every U.S. coin type.

• More than 600 issuing locations are represented in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800 .

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