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'SS Central America' treasure dominates news

'Tis the season of treasures coming to auction. As the bounty from the 1857 wreck of the SS Central America continues to cause excitement in the collecting universe, another group of treasures (gold bars) coming to auction is also attracting attention.

Tis the season of SS Central America treasure.

Step by step the California Gold Marketing Group LLC has been revealing the inventory of the 2014 recovery from the 1857 wreck.

However, the news doesn’t stop there.

Scotsman Auction Company opens its July 27 Midwest Summer Sale Auction in St. Charles, Mo., with some goodies that only the well-heeled can afford.

At the front of the catalog are three lots, gold bars manufactured by Kellogg & Humbert Assayers.

These were brought up from the bottom of the sea.

They will be offered at the end of the approximately 1,000-lot auction.

I’d want to put them upfront in the catalog too, wouldn’t you?

They certainly grabbed my attention when the catalog arrived at my desk.

Lot descriptions do not indicate when the bars were brought to the surface.

Recovery efforts date back to the 1980s.

However, the wreck connection will likely inspire bidding to reach or exceed the estimates.

The first and smallest bar has on its obverse “No 367 / 37.08 OZ / 784 FINE / $600.94."


On the reverse is the simple stamp "367."

At one end it says KELLOGG / HUMBERT / ASSAYERS within a triangular border.

Dimensions are 2-1/8 x 1-5/8 x 1-1/4 inches according to the lot description.

That makes it almost square.

Estimate is $80,000 to $90,000.

The other two lots are rectangular bars that look like what you would imagine if you simply shut your eyes.

Estimated to sell for $90,000 to $100,000 is a 38.67 ounce bar of .913 fine gold.

It is bar 694.

It was worth $729.83 when it was cast.

The third bar is the largest of all, with 43.39 ounces of .911 fine gold.

It is estimate to go for $100,000 to $110,000.

If you grabbed a handy calculator as I did, you would see that the price estimates are approximately double melt value.

The melt value of the third and largest bar is $54,267.87.

This is figured from today’s Kitco website price of $1,250.70 an ounce.

Gold was probably a tad more expensive when the bars were consigned.

These three lots, even at low estimate of $270,000, add quite a big bang to the auction.

Will they inspire higher attendance at the Missouri Numismatic Society’s annual Coin Festival in the St. Charles, Mo., Convention Center?

That is the host event for the sale.

Just being able to get a look at the three bars would make the drive to the show worth the effort.

Other lots in the sale include quite a mixture from half cents to double eagles.

It is a true collector’s auction for those who want to get on with building their sets amid the excitement of the treasure bar offer.

The three bars will be in a special 8 p.m. session.

Live floor bidding begins at 6 p.m. for the rest of the sale July 27.

Visit the Scotsman's website for more information.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News.

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