If you want to see the treasures of the famed Ship of Gold, you’ll need to book your ticket for Southern California later this month. The 2013 Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Sports Collectibles Expo features a display of more than $10 million worth of gold that was recovered from the ship as well as a fascinating array of gold, rare coins and currency that will be on display.
The Ship of Gold
Back in 1857, the SS Central America was traveling home from the California gold fields when she sank in a furious hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas on her way to New York — along with more than 550 passengers and crew as well as 30,000 pounds of gold. A salvage company found the wreck of the ship more than 7,000 feet below the surface of the ocean and brought up around $100-$150 million worth of gold between 1987 and 1988, including an 80-pound gold ingot. The 25th anniversary display at the show includes giant gold ingots and gold bars, along with other sunken treasure recovered from the ship.
The King of Coins
Another exhibit at the show features two versions of the 1804 dollar, an extremely rare coin of which there are only 15 known examples. What’s interesting is that, in fact, no U.S. dollars dated 1804 were actually struck in 1804. Instead, these were commemorative coins struck in 1834-5 as diplomatic gifts and during the 1850s for collectors. With only 15 of these rarities existing in the world, it’s quite unusual to see two of them side by side.
The Golden State
The expo also features an exhibit highlighting the first national gold bank notes, which were issued in the wake of Congress amending the Currency Act to allow California to issue notes backed by gold rather than bonds. The fronts of these notes feature beautiful American imagery, while the backs feature gold coins to hammer home the idea that the money was as good as gold.
Errors of the Mint
Nobody’s perfect, including the U.S. Mint, and hunting down numismatic bloopers has become an increasingly popular sport among the coin collecting community. An American Numismatic Association exhibit at the expo spotlights some of the more prominent mistakes that have been made by the mint. Expo attendees will see the 1937 D “three-legged” Buffalo nickel as well as the 2004 Wisconsin “extra leaf” quarter. These curiosities — both interesting and valuable — are fun for the serious collector and casual enthusiast alike. There’s even a 1955 Lincoln cent that was struck twice, leading to a slightly overlapped engraving that’s visible to the naked eye. And the infamous 2007-2009 presidential dollars, a few of which don’t have “In God We Trust” stamped on the edge of the coin — a notable pressing error that led conspiracy theorists to threaten a boycott of the U.S. Mint.
If you’re intrigued by these exhibits but aren’t planning to go to California, you can see some of them at the Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association show in Portland in October. Or just stop by Liberty Coin & Currency. While we don’t have any 80-pound gold ingots, we do have a fascinating collection of rare coins, gold and silver bullion and domestic and foreign currency — and we’re avid collectors who love to talk about coins, currency and precious metals.
Liberty Coin & Currency specializes in gold buying and dealing in rare coins. We are a family-owned business that was first established over 16 years ago and is now located in Vancouver and Portland. We also buy gold, silver, diamonds, currency and jewelry. Visit us first for a free evaluation.