How will the coin collecting hobby react to the recovery of sunken treasure from the S.S. Pulaski?
You can be forgiven if you have never heard of the 1838 shipwreck.
Its discovery is recent.
Its story currently is overshadowed by those of larger wrecks.
There are coins that have been brought to the surface.
Their number is relatively small so far.
Obviously, the first step in raising awareness is good public relations.
On March 27, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and sister firm Numismatic Conservation Services issued a press release to announce that they will be doing conservation and slabbing work on the coins brought to the surface.
They report that the first U.S. coins to be recovered are well preserved half dollars and gold $5 coins from the 1830s, as well as some earlier issues.
A photo of the slabbed 1836 $5 looks gorgeous. It is graded MS-63+.
The return of the coin to brilliance is a tribute to all those involved in getting it properly slabbed.
Other coins from the wreck come from Mexico, Spain and Great Britain.
Today’s collectors can identify with the story of the ship’s sinking. It is one of new technology of the time going wrong.
It was a paddle-wheel steam ship rather than a sailing ship. Its boiler exploded.
The ship was traveling from Savannah, Ga., to Baltimore.
It sank in 45 minutes off the coast of North Carolina.
The speed of its going to the bottom contributed to the fact that 128 of the 187 aboard perished.
These facts are important. They will cause collectors to look for more information.
In addition to placing gorgeous coins before the public, the public relations effort will have to place the larger historical account before the public.
No one expects a movie, as has been done repeatedly for the Titanic. But a story of the flesh-and-blood reality of the tragedy will increase interest in the coins and other artifacts.
“This may be one of the most significant shipwreck finds of early U.S. silver and gold coins,” said Mark Salzberg, chairman of NCS and NGC.
“We are honored to have been selected to examine, conserve and grade coins from this historic shipwreck,” he said.
As more of these coins are presented to us as collectors, the momentum of our growing interest in them should help elevate the sinking of the Pulaski to a well-known tale.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
More Collecting Resources
• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1601-1700 is your guide to images, prices and information on coins from so long ago.
• Any coin collector can tell you that a close look is necessary for accurate grading. Check out this USB microscope today!