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‘Ship of Gold’ Exhibit an ANA Bourse Highlight

Bob Evans, chief scientist on the missions to find and recover the California Gold Rush sunken treasures of the S.S. Central America, is seen here making final preparations for the 2022 Chicago World’s Fair of Money exhibit of “Nemo,” the 12,000-pound remote-controlled submersible that was used starting in 1988 to locate and retrieve the historic artifacts. (All photos courtesy Donn Pearlman.)

Bob Evans, chief scientist on the missions to find and recover the California Gold Rush sunken treasures of the S.S. Central America, is seen here making final preparations for the 2022 Chicago World’s Fair of Money exhibit of “Nemo,” the 12,000-pound remote-controlled submersible that was used starting in 1988 to locate and retrieve the historic artifacts. (All photos courtesy Donn Pearlman.)

One could hardly walk the bourse of the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money Aug. 16-20 and not notice the giant piece of machinery on display at the “Ship of Gold” sunken treasure exhibit. The display, jointly hosted by California Gold Marketing Group and Holabird Western Americana Collections, featured dozens of historic California Gold Rush-era artifacts from the 1857 sinking of the S.S. Central America.

And that giant piece of machinery? Its name is “Nemo,” and it is responsible for recovering the artifacts from the ocean floor. The 12,000-pound, remote-controlled submersible was used beginning in 1988. This was its first public display, having been stored in an Ohio warehouse since 1991.

Bob Evans, chief scientist on the recovery missions of the S.S. Central America, was on hand to share details with exhibit visitors. Descendants of Edward Hull, the ship’s purser, were also in attendance.

An interesting part of the big S.S. Central America artifacts exhibit at the 2022 Chicago World’s Fair of Money was an unopened miner’s poke, perhaps filled with California Gold Rush goodies. The name “L. Dorsey” is written on it, and sunken treasure recovery work even discovered receipts for his tickets on the ill-fated “Ship of Gold” that sank in 1857.

An interesting part of the big S.S. Central America artifacts exhibit at the 2022 Chicago World’s Fair of Money was an unopened miner’s poke, perhaps filled with California Gold Rush goodies. The name “L. Dorsey” is written on it, and sunken treasure recovery work even discovered receipts for his tickets on the ill-fated “Ship of Gold” that sank in 1857.

Two descendants of the S.S. Central America ship’s purser, Edward Hull, visited the “Ship of Gold” sunken treasure exhibit at the 2022 Chicago World’s Fair of Money. From left: Bob Evans, chief historian and scientist of the S.S. Central America recovery and preservation, 1985-2022; Fred Holabird, president of Holabird Western Americana Collections; Linda Stanton of Georgia, the great-granddaughter of Hull, holding the purser’s keys to the ship’s treasure cargo storage room; and Gina Hitchens of Ohio, the great-great-granddaughter of Hull.

Two descendants of the S.S. Central America ship’s purser, Edward Hull, visited the “Ship of Gold” sunken treasure exhibit at the 2022 Chicago World’s Fair of Money. From left: Bob Evans, chief historian and scientist of the S.S. Central America recovery and preservation, 1985-2022; Fred Holabird, president of Holabird Western Americana Collections; Linda Stanton of Georgia, the great-granddaughter of Hull, holding the purser’s keys to the ship’s treasure cargo storage room; and Gina Hitchens of Ohio, the great-great-granddaughter of Hull.

Artifacts on display ranged from money and gold to clothing and jewelry to everyday items brought on board by passengers and crew members.

The S.S. Central America sank 7,200 feet deep in the Atlantic Ocean off the North Carolina coast during a hurricane on Sept. 12, 1857. The tragedy took the lives of 425 of the ship’s 578 passengers and crew members. The loss of gold cargo was a major factor in the United States’ financial panic of 1857.