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Finest gold part of treasure

The finest-known 1855 Sydney Mint Australian sovereign. The sovereign had a face value of one British pound and contains nearly a quarter ounce of gold. (Photo courtesy Professional Coin Grading Service www.PCGS.com)

The finest-known Australian 1855 Sydney Mint gold sovereign, made during the first year of that mint’s operations, was discovered during the last expedition to the fabled “Ship of Gold,” the SS Central America, that sank while sailing to New York City in 1857.

Now graded MS-62+ by the Professional Coin Grading Service, it is one of 82 sunken treasure world gold coins representing 10 different countries retrieved in 2014, recently cataloged by the California Gold Marketing Group and now certified by Professional Coin Grading Service.

“The 1855 Sydney sovereign is the equivalent of the U.S. 1854-S half eagle; both ‘S’ mints, both first year of striking. It’s an amazing discovery,” said Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group.

He compared the rarity and historical significance of the recovered Australian coin to one of only four known surviving 1854 $5 denomination gold coins made during the San Francisco Mint’s first year.

“An 1856 Sydney Mint sovereign, now graded PCGS AU-58 and even rarer than the 1855, also was found. Someone apparently traveled from Australia to the San Francisco area with the 1855 and 1856 gold coins,” Manley said.

The vast majority of the more than 3,000 gold coins recovered in 2014 were struck in the United States. But the retrieved world gold coins are a mix of Latin American and European coinage in addition to the two Australian gold pieces.

A complete inventory of coins and assayers’ ingots recovered in 2014 will be listed in an upcoming book, America’s Greatest Treasure Ship: The SS Central America, The Second Journey, by Q. David Bowers and Manley.


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


More Collecting Resources

• Subscribe to our monthly Coins magazine – a great resource for any collector!

• The 1800s were a time of change for many, including in coin production. See how coin designs grew during the time period in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900 .

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