How do you put a price on a dream? I just got off the phone with a reporter for the Associated Press. He was writing a story about the reported recovery of $500 million of sunken treasure from the Atlantic Ocean.
It is always good to be skeptical. The $500 million might turn out to be too high a price, but I said that coins that have been properly conserved and marketed have been known to bring far higher prices than those of us in the strictly numismatic market could think possible.
I said the Odyssey Marine Exploration group has enough of a track record that I would give them the benefit of the doubt in the early going.
We don’t know the country of origin of the coins, the dates, or mints. All that is known so far is that there are 17 tons of what are called “Colonial-era silver and gold coins,” with the bulk of the coins being silver.
I said some obvious things that any collector might point out. Sea water is the very devil on silver coins. Gold survives better. The conservation effort on them will determine a large amount of their value.
What is good, though, is that the news has made it to the general press and is not restricted solely to the pages and Web sites of the hobby press. We all benefit when that happens. Any publicity in this regard is good not only for the treasure hunters, but also for all coin collectors.
It will be very interesting to see how additional information will be announced. Will we watch a masterful marketing process unfold as was done for the S.S. Central America? I hope so. We were all winners in that process. The hobby has benefited enormously from it.
Soon enough I will be able to warn people to be skeptical when buying sunken treasure. Soon enough I get to be a scold. However, today, I want to bask in the possibilities. I want to let my imagination run with it. Don’t you?