Could there be more treasure in the sunken wreckage of the U.S.S. Central America, a ship that sank in 1857 off the East Coast?
That would mean more gold coins from the San Francisco Mint and its private mint predecessors to enter numismatic channels at some point in the future.
Leader of the original 1988 recovery effort was Tommy Thompson of Columbus-America Discovery Group. Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., now has begun a new voyage to the wreck last week according to news reports.
The original treasure was disbursed in numismatic channels 14 years ago in a brilliant marketing campaign centered on calling the wreck the “Ship of Gold.”
Those coins and gold bars were worth an estimated $100 million to $150 million. They still bring big money and find eager new owners when they come up for sale at auction. It didn’t hurt that gold bullion during the sales period soared in value.
What can be left on the sea floor for this second recovery round? Collectors will hope a lot.
With current curation techniques coins that were new in 1857 will look new again, enlarging a supply of coins that captivate hobbyists.
Odyssey’s current effort will cost $5 million to $10 million.
Obviously, the value of any recovered gold coins would have to exceed those figures in order for Odyssey to make a profit and the firm would not undertake the effort without a fairly firm expectation that this threshold will be successfully crossed.
Whatever coins are found will probably take years to reach the hands of the collecting public, but they will be as eager as ever to own any coins and bars that become available.
For fans of the Central America story, opportunity apparently knocks more than once.
(This has been revised from a previous version)
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”