FUN Wrap Up and Coins Weekly

9 Jan

While the weather gods weren’t smiling upon us benevolently with our famous Florida warm winter weather, the temperature was blistering inside the Florida United Numismatists (aka FUN) 2018 winter show in Tampa. We had brisk sales and collected consignments for our next Sedwick Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction #23 on May 15-16, 2018. It looks like buyers and collectors are optimistic. We are too!

2018 FUN Show

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC booth at the 2018 FUN show in Tampa 

At the show, I was fortunate enough to renew my acquaintance with Ursula Kampmann, founder of CoinsWeekly, a popular online newsletter for the trade. Aside from that newsletter, she is launching companion newsletter called AuctionsWeekly which will list every Friday ”all auctions that will take place during the following week as well as just published fixed price lists.” What a great way to keep up with all the auctions that take place around the world, especially during very busy auction times! You can subscribe here: https://www.coinsweekly.com/en/Subscribe-to-CoinsWeekly-Newsletter/37. You’ll see us listed as time gets closer to our next auction.

Cori and Uschi at January 2018 FUN Show

Cori Downing, left, with Ursula Kampmann, right

By the way, if you’re in the New York City area, find us at our table at the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) January 11-14 now held in the Empire State Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt, located at 109 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10022, between Park and Lexington Avenues. We hope to see you there!

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Happy Holidays and New Year’s Resolutions 2017

21 Dec

by Cori Sedwick Downing

With a very successful Sedwick Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction #22 in the history books and consignments for #23 starting to trickle in, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on our hobby and tell you trends we see for 2018.

First, let’s start with a homily that was often repeated by my father, Frank Sedwick, during his years as a coin dealer: “If you want to sell, the time to sell is when you have a willing buyer.” That seems like good advice, but more often than not, we twist that tidbit of wisdom to read, “If you want to sell and someone wants to buy, perhaps you’re not asking enough.” Frank would counter with, “There is always a willing buyer when the price is right.” So, what’s the right price? Mostly it’s a matter of demand. The right price depends on who wants/needs something at that moment. The right price could also depend on the price of silver or gold, and we all know how that fluctuates.

As a hobbyist, your New Year’s resolutions should include spending some time with your hard-earned collection to determine which coins you need to upgrade and which you’ve got duplicates of. Consider putting your duplicates at auction or private sale and hope to make enough money to afford any upgrades that might be available.

What does our crystal ball say?

We’ve seen a fair amount of what we call “grade inflation” among encapsulated coins. crystalball_coinThere’s more “mint state” material circulating than we’ve seen in the past. The old AU 58 becomes the new MS 61. This happens in many fields—not just coins—and eventually the market adjusts. The take-home lesson is to look at the COIN and not the SLAB.

Another trend that we’ve noted is that more and more collectors of US coins are transitioning to collecting world coins. By comparison, world coins are a bargain! The material is also fresh to them as opposed to the same old retread US coins. There’s no reason to believe that this influx of buyers won’t continue. This is not only valid for the Latin American market, where we see the trend auction after auction but also for mainland Spanish coins that finally seem to have found their way into the US collectors field.

A continuing trend is that quality trumps rarity. Even when a coin is unique or very rare, if its quality or grading is low, it may fetch less at auction than a coin of lesser rarity but higher quality.

One more comment regarding the market for 2018 (at least in our field): we have noticed a big interest in Latin American military decorations, medals and tokens. They are now eligible for grading and better understood thanks to several works published in recent years. Their price has made them affordable in the past but the feeding frenzy has begun and they may not be so affordable in the future.

In the end, a wise collector learns as much as he or she can and applies good sense to investing. Don’t buy something for the sake of having it; buy it because you like it. That way you can always examine your coin collection with a smile and most likely you will hold it for a longer time increasing the chances of eventually the value also going up.

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones from the team at Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC—Daniel, Augi, Cori, Connor, and Michelle.

You can find us in the New Year at these shows:

          (Consignment deadline for Auction 23, February 25 )

Making a Bank Note: A Study of El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua Bromide Proofs

20 Dec

by Connor Falk

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The history of El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua (the Bank of the State of Chihuahua) is brief and steeped in the turbulent times of the Mexican Revolution. It was founded on December 12, 1913, as decreed by General Francisco “Pancho” Villa, military governor of the state of Chihuahua and commander of the División del Norte, an armed revolutionary faction. The bank’s stated purpose, in addition to issuing currency, was to “facilitate loans on properties that fully guarantee capital, especially poor farmers who need pecuniary elements to tillage their lands.” The bank’s capital was 10 million pesos, to be distributed in bank notes backed by gold.

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Work began quickly to locate a designer and printer for the bank’s notes, and after several unsuccessful forays, El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua contracted with the American Bank Note Company (ABNCo). Design work began in September 1914 with bank representatives choosing the vignettes to be used.

The accompanying lot, #1397, represents an interesting look at the bank note design process. The lot is a unique set of fourteen photographic proofs (also known as bromide proofs) made in 1914 by the ABNCo when designing notes for El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua. These prototypes consist of both obverses and reverses of all seven denominations issued by the bank, including the rare 1 peso denomination.

A variety of obverse vignettes were used for the notes; the reverse vignettes, with minor variations, feature the seal of Mexico. The obverse of the 500 pesos features an allegorical design of two women, “Work” and “Knowledge,” with two young boys and El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua’s monogram in the center. The obverse of the 100 pesos depicts an armored Ceres seated with two men representing agriculture and industry in front.

The obverse vignettes on the lower denominations depict scenes rather than allegorical designs. The 50 pesos features a train pulling into a station, the 20 pesos illustrates a harvesting scene, the 10 pesos shows a rancher driving cattle, and the 5 pesos displays a miner using a pneumatic drill.

Of interest is the 1 peso obverse, which features a logging scene as the central vignette. The same scene is found on the Canadian Bank of Ottawa 5 dollars note from 1906 (Charlton 565-20-06). The later issues from 1913 (Charlton 565-22-02 and 565-26-02) feature a similar scene with the bottom row of logs removed, possibly to avoid cluttering a smaller vignette space than the 1906 issue. However, for the Chihuahua peso, ABNCo designers removed six loggers that were standing on the log pile. On the bromide, this was achieved by pasting the reworked scene directly over the original vignette. Why this change was made is unknown, though it’s possible the six loggers, who are white, looked out of place on what was to become a Mexican bank note.

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The central vignette of the 1 peso (note the whiter paper pasted over the original design)

Other examples of “vignette sharing” were commonplace for ABNCo notes. The following issues share vignettes with El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua notes:

  • Canada, Union Bank of Canada, 5 dollars, 1903-1912, SCWPM-S1493 and S1495, same obverse vignette (harvest scene) as the Chihuahua 20 pesos
  • Haiti, Republique d’Haiti, 1 gourde, 1914, SCWPM-131, same reverse vignette (harvest scene) as on the obverse of the Chihuahua 20 pesos (an example of an overprinted provisional issue, SCWPM-140a is in this auction as lot 2305)
  • Venezuela, Banco de Venezuela, 20 bolívares, SCWPM-S286, S291, S301, and S311, 1910-1936, same obverse vignette (rancher scene) as the Chihuahua 10 pesos

This is not an exhaustive list and I encourage others to provide more examples.

The other interesting aspect about the 1 peso note is its rarity. Although initial plans called for printing one million 1 peso notes, bank officials put the denomination on hold. Instead, an additional two thousand of the 500 pesos note were printed to cover the one million peso shortfall. Although ABNCo received word that plates should be prepared for the denomination, none were ever printed. Just three proofs as well as the bromide in this set are known. What should have been the most common note in the series became the rarest one instead.

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The greyed out “L” on the 500 pesos

The other denominations are more common, and this bromide set provides insight into their design process. Edits were made on the notes throughout production. The 500 pesos obverse bromide displays this best. Above the central vignette, a banner with the decree date reads PAGARA AL PORTADOR EN EFECTIVO SEGÚN DECRETO DEL 12 DE DICIEMBRE DEL MIL NOVECIENTOS TRECE. The second “DEL” should be “DE”; the ABNCo designers realized this and greyed out the erroneous “L.” On the printed notes, the sentence reads correctly and the letters are slightly shifted to fill in the space.

Another design change on the 500 pesos is the change in signatories. Spaces are available for the interventor del gobierno (government controller), the cajero (cashier), and the presidente (president of the bank); however, presidente is crossed out and gerente (manager) is written below. All printed notes display gerente printed in place of presidente.1397_500pesogerente

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Changes were made to both the signatories and the gold backing clause.

A major change between the working copies and the printed notes is the valuation. On September 14, 1914, the valuation of the 10 pesos read ORO MEXICANO. The 5 pesos bromide displays a similar valuation stating VALOR ORO MEXICANO, but by October 1, 1914, this was changed to VALOR ORO NACIONAL, as seen on the rest of the bromides as well as the finished printed notes.

Although the notes were printed and delivered in early 1915, El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua would not exist much longer. Prendergast notes that “because of the depreciation of Villa’s currency after his defeat at Celaya (April 6-15, 1915), within a year the bank found it could no longer operate.” By November 23, the bank had closed, having never issued the notes both the ABNCo and bank officials had worked hard on. Instead, the series found new life first as advertising and novelty items, and now as numismatic pieces to be bought, sold and researched.

Acknowledgements

A full history of El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua written by Simon Prendergast can be found online at http://www.papermoneyofchihuahua.com. His work has been invaluable to my interest and research on this bank note series.

Mexican Paper Money by Cory Frampton, Duane Douglas, Alberto Hidalgo, and Elmer Powell is an invaluable tool for both El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua specialists as well as Mexican bank notes in general.

Notes can be seen and purchased following these links:

Mexico, Banco del Estado de Chihuahua, Bromide “Photographic” Proofs Set, 1914  

 The “Mesuno Hoard” Revisited 

19 Nov
(First Published April 7, 2009) by Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC.

Shipwreck gold cobs are valuable and exciting items today, but in 1959 you could not give them away for much more than melt value. They had very little public interest until massive quantities of them from the 1715 Fleet off the east coast of Florida started to hit the market in the 1960s. But there was a small warm-up act before that big show, and its name was the “Mesuno Hoard” of 1636.

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Aerial view of the Magdalena River, taken during a flight to Medellin n 2014. (source: AGB)

The first Mesuno coin to hit the market was in 1939, offered by Spink of London as a Bogotá two escudos cob “found at the shores of the Magdalena river” (for the whopping price of about £15), but sales of these coins did not begin in earnest until 20 years later, with public offerings by Schulman and Stack’s Coin Galleries in New York (for about $50 to $75 each), backed up by hundreds of specimens that went directly into jewelry. These were all Bogotá two escudos cobs of 1628-35* (mostly 1635, but usually without the date visible), with mintmark NR (for Nuevo Reino) and assayer A (for Alonso de Anuncibay) or P (for Miguel Pinto Camargo) when visible, and usually in choice UNC grade (what we would call Mint State today) as from a hoard originating in Colombia. It was known that the hoard was found in 1936 at a bend known as “El Mesuno” in the Magdalena River near the town of Honda in Colombia. Also called the Yuma River, the Magdalena is the longest river in Colombia, flowing northward about 950 miles through the western half of the country, navigable by ship through much of its lower reaches but plagued by shifting sand bars at the mouth of its delta. There was a short article about the “Mesuno Hoard” by C.S. Wilcox in 1943 in Stack’s Numismatic Review, republished by that firm in 1959, but little else was said about the hoard, and still in 1959 no one but hardcore numismatists cared about these lumpy cob coins.

The 1960s changed everything, however, with the introduction of thousands of 1715-Fleet coins to the general public and the publication of important studies by X.F. Calicó and A.M. Barriga-Villalba finally establishing a knowledge base about the early Colombian cob coinage. It soon became clear that the 1636 “Mesuno Hoard” had compelling numismatic significance, since it had provided virtually the only known specimens from the first decade of production at the Bogotá mint. When properly researched by Leopoldo Cancio starting in 1959 (culminating in a series of articles in the 1970s), the discovery of the hoard was shown to have been sloppily reported in the 1930s, mostly due to intentional obfuscation by the finders. In addition to studying hundreds of the coins from the hoard personally at the Banco de La República in Bogotá, Cancio conducted some general interest research and ferreted out the names of the finders and distributors of the coins in Colombia, among other things. But as we shall see, there was much more to the story.

In November of 2007 the Colombian newspaper El Nuevo Día published an article about the “Mesuno Hoard” with some interesting and rather dramatic revelations, which we summarize here. Entitled “Así se despilfarró el tesoro de El Mesuno,” meaning “This is how the Mesuno treasure was squandered,” the article tells how three fishermen brothers by the name of Guzmán found the hoard and rapidly depleted their profits from sales of the coins. It is basically an interview with 89-year-old Don Alfredo Gutiérrez, who in the 1930s was the best friend of the youngest of the three brothers, and it reads like a Latin American novela.

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“Tesoro del Mesuno” exhibit: Casa de Moneda – Coleccion Numismatica del Banco de la Republica. Bogota, Colombia. 2014. (source: AGB)

Gutiérrez relates that on August 22, 1936, at about noon, his friend Domingo Guzmán went down to the river to check on fishing lines. While there, he noticed something bright in the water, like the sun reflecting off a metallic surface, and jumped into the river to investigate. There he found the remains of a small iron box, inside which were more than 1600 gold cobs as well as gold chains and diadems (ornamental headbands). Domingo immediately grabbed some of the coins and then buried the treasure box on land and placed a rock to mark the location (hence the enduring myth that this was a “land hoard”). Screaming something like “We are saved! God sent us these coins!,” Domingo ran to inform his two older brothers (identified by Cancio as Aristóbulo and Jorge), who apparently thought he had been eaten by a caimán (big alligator), since he had taken so long to return from the river.

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Bogota, Colombia, cob 2 escudos, (16)28 assayerA, from the “Mesuno Hoard”

The three brothers then rushed down to the river to the place where Domingo had buried the treasure. They divided the coins into three even parts and put them into metal cans of a type used for butter. Then they also divided the chains and diadems three ways. Gutiérrez made a comment that back then greed and jealousy were not an issue; nevertheless, before telling the news to his brothers, Domingo had secretly set aside a few cobs that he later gave to their mother.

 The first thing the Guzmán brothers did with their new-found wealth was to start frequenting a casa de citas, literally translated as a “dating house,” a euphemism for brothel. One of the most famous brothels in an area of Honda known as the zona tolerancia (“tolerance zone”) was located on Quebrada Seca street and was owned by Tulia Manzanares (the “madam”). Every time the brothers visited the brothel, the madam called out something like: “Girls, the coin doctors are here!” As the girls sat with the brothers drinking and dancing, the brothers paid for the favors with their gold cobs, up to five per girl—about a $10,000 value to collectors today!

As the main river port in its time, and the only means of transportation between the Caribbean coast and the inland capital city of Bogotá, Honda was very prosperous and was an obligatory stop for merchants distributing goods. Englishmen, for example, could always be found there trying to negotiate the price of tobacco that was cultivated in the Department (State) of Tolima (which contained the town and municipality of Honda). The substantial foreign presence there attracted the most beautiful prostitutes from all over Colombia and around the world (particularly Italy and Cuba) to work in Honda.

 So it seems most of the gold-cob fortune was wasted on luxuries, girls and liquor. But the article also relates a couple more subtle tales about the brothers and their gold. For one, in the middle of town the Guzmáns opened a puesto de carne (butcher shop), which at first sounds like a legitimate and prudent use of the money; but the truth was that, according to Gutiérrez, they sold libra y media por el precio de una libra, meaning 1½ pounds of meat for the price of one pound, with the presumed intention of attracting their female friends. The second “new rich” tale involved the requisition of a dozen custom-made suits for each of them to use on—wink wink—special occasions.

 Of course not everything was drunken, carnal fun for the Guzmán brothers. The last story we hear is that they bought a car, probably with their final few Mint State “bogeys,” and drove to Medellín for more fun. Domingo eventually returned to Honda penniless and so desperate that he stole some chickens, got caught, and landed in jail for a few weeks. Still despondent after his release in the first week of February 1937, Domingo Guzmán committed suicide in dramatic fashion during the celebration of Santa Lucía by blowing himself up with a stick of dynamite in the center of town. Nobody seems to know whatever happened to his older brothers.

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Bogota, Colombia, cob 2 escudos, 1635 assayer A, from the “Mesuno hoard”

For this article the newspaper also contacted the Banco de La República in Bogotá, which had eventually acquired most of the gold cobs, presumably from the people who had been paid with them by the Guzmán brothers, but also from other lucky fishermen who had found some loose coins that had spilled from the original chest. (The ones found by the Guzmáns, it should be noted, were in choice condition compared to some of the loose coins.) Cancio identified two of the fisherman as José Ardila and Manuel Valdés, who sold hundreds of coins to wealthy locals Victor Guillén and David Londoño, with the bank’s permission, as it was not otherwise legal to sell the coins within the country. The Bank confirmed that today its numismatic collection still publicly displays some 500 of these gold cobs. The other 1100 or so cobs went out of the country, with the majority of the coins ending up in New York, as we have seen.

 As for why the hoard was in the river in the first place, Angélica Araújo, vice director of the numismatic collection of the Banco de la República, commented that archives mention the loss of a champán (a large boat used in river navigation) in the Magdalena River at the time, and she believes these coins may have been a shipment to Cartagena to finance the construction of the castle of San Felipe. Since that would mean a whole ship, and not just one chest of coins, it is believed that the bulk of the treasure is still in the river, yet to be found. Perhaps of more importance to collectors now is that we can and should refer to the coins as true “shipwreck treasure,” in the sense of Spanish doubloons from a Spanish ship, and not just a “hoard” with no specific record of loss or intent. Even if we do not have a name for the ship that yielded these coins, the “Mesuno hoard” will always be important as one of the world’s largest single sources of gold cobs, and practically the only source for early Bogota two escudos.

 ———-

* The dates 1627 and 1636 are also possible from this hoard. Prior to the revelation of stylistic differences (particularly the size of the fleurs in the quadrants of the cross) between the early 1630s and the mid-1630s, it is likely that coins formerly attributed to 1630 were actually 1636, as in so many cases just the bottoms of the digits of the date are visible. And while no 1627 specimens are officially recorded for this hoard (or known so far),[2009] that date is clearly possible, as there is record of the Bogotá mint having received enough gold in December of that inaugural year to make about 750 two escudos, and also Calicó mentions the existence of an assayer-P specimen with overdate 1628/7.

Shipwreck artifacts and coins top Sedwick auction 22

14 Nov

Winter Park, Florida – Nov. 8, 2017 – Spanish colonial rarities set high prices in Daniel Frank Sedwick’s Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction 22, held Nov. 2-3, 2017. The event combined high-class material and international bidders with educational talks and social events. Across 2,341 lots, the sale realized $2.45 million in winning bids.  All prices listed include a 17.5 percent buyer’s premium.

Jorge Proctor giving his lecture “The Forgotten Mint of Colonial Panama”

Three large silver bars recovered from the Atocha shipwreck, sunk in 1622 off Florida, made impressive showings in the sale. One bar (lot 217) weighing in at 89 pounds, 0.5 troy ounces was the top lot in the auction with a price of $47,587.50. Another bar r (lot 216), slightly larger than the first at 89 pounds, 11.68 troy ounces, came in at $30,550. Finally (lot 218), a smaller, yet higher grade 43 pounds, 4.4 troy ounces bar earned $23,500.

Lot 1473 This Madonna brooch is an impressive survivor from the shipwrecked 1715 Fleet.

Another high-performing piece was lot 1473, an ornate gold-and-pearl “Madonna” brooch recovered from the “Rio Mar” shipwreck site of the 1715 Fleet. After heavy bidding both on the floor and online, the brooch sold for $47,000 on an estimate of $15,000 and up.

The top coin sold in the auction was lot 9, a Lima, Peru, 1697H gold cob 8 escudos “PVA” variety graded NGC MS 62. In addition to being the finest and only example listed on the NGC census, the coin also came from the 1715 Fleet. The coin brought in $38,187.50 on a $20,000- and-up estimate.

A finest-known, 1732F Mexico City-minted gold escudos denomination set (lots 144-146) consisting of the 4, 2 and 1 escudos garnered intense bidding. The 4 escudos, graded NGC MS 60 and designated as being from the 1733 Fleet, brought in $28,200 on an estimate of $20,000 and up. The 2 escudos, graded NGC AU 58, did even better and ended up selling for $30,550 on a $15,000-and-up estimate. Finally, the 1 escudo, graded NGC MS 61, surpassed the others and sold for $35,250 on an estimate of $15,000 and up.

Lot 745 Panama, cob 2 reales, Philip II, assayer oX at 4 o’clock, mintmark AP (Atocha 1622)

Strong prices were seen on early Mexican and Panama silver cobs. A very rare “Early Series” Charles-Joanna Mexican cob 3 reales with Gothic assayer “R” and three-dots denomination (lot 517) flew past its $10,000-$15,000 estimate to sell for $25,850. A Panama cob 2 reales with assayer initial X recovered from the Atocha shipwreck (lot 745) brought in the same price, this time on a $5,000-and-up estimate.

Other highlights from the sale include:

  • Lot 27: A Lima, Peru, 1713/2M cob 8 escudos graded NGC MS 64 and from the 1715 Fleet sold for $31,725.
  • Lot 209: A gold “oro corriente” cut ingot piece weighing 80.1 grams from an unidentified early 1500s Caribbean shipwreck sold for $19,975.
  • Lot 678: A Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales Royal, 1652E Transitional Type I/A, with crowned-600 countermark of Brazil sold for $8,812.50.
  • Lot 744: A Panama cob 4 reales, Philip II, assayer oB to left with mintmark AP above error denomination sold for $17,625.
  • Lot 986: A Le Cap, Haiti, 1 escalin with anchor countermark on a cut-down Lima, Peru, 1696H cob 1 real sold for $8,225.
  • Lot 1293: A Panama “Constancia de Panama” silver oval medal, Ferdinand VII, pedigreed to the Richard Stuart collection sold for $14,100.
  • Lot 1410: A Panama series 1941, 1 balboa “Arias” note graded PCGS Choice About New 58 PPQ sold for $6,462.50.
  • Lot 1476: A 24-inch-long, gold chain weighing 66.54 grams sold for $15,275.
  • Lot 1684: A France (Lyon mint) 1723-D gold Louis d’or, Louis XV, from the Chameau shipwreck (1725) sold for $3,290.

See auction.sedwickcoins.com for all auction results. Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC is currently accepting consignments for their Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction 23 to be held May 15-16, 2018. For more details, please contact Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC at office@sedwickcoins.com. A full schedule of events including consignment deadlines can be found at www.sedwickcoins.com/schedule.htm.

Treasure coins, gold artifacts brighten Sedwick’s November Auction

26 Oct

Unique gold coins and artifacts will draw attention to Daniel Frank Sedwick’s Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction 22. Over 2,340 lots will be up for bidding in the combined floor and live online auction held Nov. 2-3. Online lot viewing and bidding is hosted at www.auction.sedwickcoins.com.

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This large gold disk weighing 1,434 grams was part of the Luz shipwreck treasure find.

One impressive artifact from the sale is lot 213: a large gold disk weighing over 1.4 kilograms recovered from the Luz shipwreck, sunk in 1752 off Montevideo, Uruguay. The Luz was carrying large gold holdings owned by the King of Spain as well as Jesuit missionaries when it was smashed upon the coastline during a storm.

Although contemporary salvage efforts recovered some of the Luz’s cargo, it wasn’t until 1992 that large amounts of gold escudos as well as gold ingots were found. After the disk’s discovery, it traded from collection to collection. It originally appeared in a 1993 Sotheby’s auction and once again in a 1997 Ponterio auction where it was the pictured on the back cover of the catalog. In Sedwick’s sale, the gold disk is estimated at $80,000 to $120,000.

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This Madonna brooch is an impressive survivor from the shipwrecked 1715 Fleet.

Another unique treasure item in the auction is lot 1473: a beautiful gold-and-pearl “Madonna” brooch recovered from “Rio Mar” site of the 1715 Fleet, sunk in 1715 off the east coast of Florida. The large and ornate pendant features a crowned female figure surrounded by ornate framework decorated with many pearls. The pendant is suspended from a moving crown featuring more intricate goldwork and pearl settings. While the female figure has led to a popular reference as a “Madonna” brooch, the female appears to be Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The brooch is an impressive survivor from the wreck, given the ornate gold design that somehow survived 274 years underwater. It was discovered by the famous Mel Fisher salvaging company in 1989 and later pictured in the book Dreamweaver: The Story of Mel Fisher (1996) by Bob Weller. It will be offered with an estimate of $15,000 and up.

Other artifacts from the 1715 Fleet will be offered in the sale including lot 1474: a set of pearl earrings similar in style to the “Madonna” brooch found at the Cabin wreck site, estimated at $6,000 to $9,000. Also, a set of 1715- and 1716-dated London, England Post Boy newspapers reporting on the 1715 Fleet disaster and subsequent recovery efforts is lot 1460 and estimated at $4,000 to $6,000.

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A unique 1750/48 Guatemala cob 1 escudo pedigreed to the Richard Stuart collection.

Beyond shipwreck treasures, a number of very rare coins will appear in the auction. Notably, a unique 1750/48 Guatemala bust-type gold 1 escudo will be offered as lot 130 with an estimate of $25,000 and up. The coin features the bust of Ferdinand VI and was struck by hand using a design intended for machine-struck coins. The hammered gold coins of Guatemala are the rarest of all Spanish colonial gold coins with only four 1 escudos known. Only one, the coin being offered, is dated 1750. It is pedigreed to the Richard Stuart collection and is plated on page 183 in Historia de la Casa de Moneda de Guatemala (2010) by Carlos Jara.

The auction will feature the largest offering ever of Panama cobs, Nicaragua and Honduras imitation cobs, and Admiral Vernon medals, pedigreed to the Richard Stuart collection. A rare, unlisted pairing of a Costa Rican 8 reales with an 1846JB 2 reales counterstamp (Type V) with “8” on a Potosi, Bolivia cob 8 reales dated 1771 is lot 838 with an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000.

Another rarity also from the Richard Stuart collection being offered is lot 744: a Panama Philip II cob 4 reales with the mintmark AP above an error “III” denomination. It is a plate coin in both Spain, Portugal and the New World (2002) by Chet Krause and Clifford Mishler as well as The Forgotten Mint of Colonial Panama (2005) by Jorge Proctor. The coin has an estimate of $10,000 and up.

Other top lots in the auction include:

  • Lots 144, 145 and 146: A group of first year type, Mexico City-minted 1732 gold 4, 2 and 1 escudos, all graded by NGC and the finest known in the NGC census, estimated at $20,000 and up (for the 4 escudos) as well as $15,000 and up (for 2 and 1 escudos).
  • Lot 160: An 1822, assayer JM, Mexican 8 escudos featuring Iturbide with the corrected “Augustin” spelling variety, graded NGC MS 62, estimated at $20,000 to $30,000.
  • Lot 13: A 1701, assayer H, Lima, Peru cob 4 escudos recovered from the 1715 Fleet, graded NGC MS 64, estimated at $20,000 and up.
  • Lots 216 and 217: Two large, 89-pound silver bars recovered from the Atocha (sunk in 1622), each estimated at $25,000 and up.
  • Lot 493: An 1857-S Liberty Head $20 double eagle recovered from the SS Central America (sunk in 1857), graded PCGS MS 64, estimated at $10,000 to $15,000.
  • Lot 1334: A 1916 Standing Liberty quarter, graded NGC VG 10, estimated at $3,500 to $5,000.
  • Lot 1364: A unique 1861 Banco de Santiago 100 pesos bank note, estimated at $10,000 and up.
  • Lot 1381: A 1921 Costa Rican 2 colones bank note, the finest known in the PMG census, estimated at $2,500 to $3,750.

An internet-only session will be held Monday, Nov. 6 featuring selected items from all sessions. Bidders can register for the auction at www.auction.sedwickcoins.com. For more details, please contact Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC at office@sedwickcoins.com.

Upcoming Treasure Auction 22: Important 1715 Fleet Artifacts

21 Oct

Today we will cover some of the most important artifacts from the 1715 Fleet you can find in our upcoming auction. These pieces are important for either their rarity, their quality, their provenance or all of the above

Lot 1473: Gold-and-pearl “Madonna” brooch, large and ornate, from the 1715 Fleet, plated in Dreamweaver. 59.79 grams, about 3-1/2″ x 2-1/4″. A large and very ornate pendant of an articulated type known as a “venera,” featuring a crowned female over an angel face superimposed over an upward-facing crescent moon (topped with small posts, one of which still bears a pearl), all in a central open oval surrounded by twenty-two sunrays tipped with pearls, fastened to a frame of alternating large and small five-point ornaments with more pearls on top (on loose posts fastened with Y-backs) and on ends, with small loop at bottom, that whole piece suspended from a moving “crown” of similar ornaments encrusted with more pearls, the back showing a large horizontal ring for wearing as a brooch or pendant. This piece has popularly been referred to as the “Madonna” brooch, but more accurately the central figure appears to be Our Lady of Guadalupe (similar to the medallion from the 1733 Fleet plated on pages 158-9 of Weller’s Galleon Alley book of 2001). The pearls (fifty-two remaining) are all a bit worn and quite a few are missing, but more egregious is the absence of eleven gemstones (presumably emeralds) from now-empty sockets that show traces of light encrustation (hence they were lost or removed before salvage), although it is possible the gems were to be added later when this relic made it to Spain. The gold itself is all intact and visibly high grade. Clearly a museum piece, one of the most important 1715-Fleet artifacts we have ever offered, reportedly recovered by John Berrier and Duke Long in 1989. From the “Rio Mar” site, with Fisher photo-certificate #1611 and photocopy of a hand-drawing by K. Amundson, and featured in color photo on page 193 of Dreamweaver (1996), by Bob “Frogfoot” Weller.  Direct link

Lot 1474: Matched pair of gold-and-pearl earrings from the 1715 Fleet. 7.09 grams total, each about 2-1/4″ long. Nearly identical earrings, made with hoop of gold at top, quatrefoil ornament with pearls on posts below that in middle and the bottom piece a pearl-strung straight wire with trefoil at top and ring at bottom, each with eleven pearls total, all very small and worn but none missing, an intact pair that can still be worn and matches the previous lot (“Madonna” brooch) in style, possibly from the same ship of the 1715 Fleet but reportedly found farther up the coast. With Fisher photo-certificate #41562 (showing both earrings) and original yellow-plastic tags #41562 and 41563. Direct Link

Lot 1476: Gold chain, 66.54 grams, 24 inches long, heavy-braid links with original clasp, from the 1715 Fleet. Thick links of boxlike braiding somewhat tightly spaced to make a very ductile chain, completely intact with ring at one end and Y-shaped piece at other end (connected with oblong jumper) for fastening to the ring, eminently wearable and attractive. With Queens Jewels LLC photo-certificate #F040982 (tag #75905). Direct Link

Lot 1484: Ornate silver shaker (pounce box) from the 1715 Fleet. 313 grams, 2-3/4″ cube. Unlike gold, very few shipwreck silver artifacts are solid enough to emerge from conservation as bright and beautiful and functional as they day they were made, but this is one of those rare relics, with every finely engraved detail in the (separate) lid and embossed design on the side intact and unblemished, just a tiny corner-chip in the lid and verdigris in one corner of the plain inside of the box, the lid designed with eighteen small holes in a floral pattern in a concave circle on the top for sprinkling a fine powder (pounce) over fresh manuscripts to prevent the ink from spreading. With Queens Jewels LLC photo-certificate #F040818 (tag #77225). Direct  Link

 Lot 1482: Gold-and-emerald ring, size 7-1/4, from the 1715 Fleet. 5.05 grams. Very solid and intact ring with rectangular, table-cut emerald of decent translucence and color in a scallop-base frame, the ring itself with straight sides, high-karat gold. From the “Cabin wreck” site, found on the beach in 1985, with a photo-certificate from salvager Carl Lazzeri and another from Daniel Frank Sedwick. Direct Link

Related Important Item:

Lot 1460: Unique set of newspapers with accounts on the sinking and salvage of the Spanish 1715 Treasure Fleet, consisting of four issues of The Post Boy (London) from 1715-16.

Four very rare, complete issues of The Post Boy, a major London newspaper, from November 19, December 8 and 19, 1715 and July 3, 1716, each issue a single 14” x 8” sheet (“broadsheet”) of high-quality rag stock printed on both sides, and in Fine to Very Fine condition. In all probability these papers are the only ones in private hands.

These four historic newspapers provide accounts of the legendary disaster and Spain’s frantic attempts to recover the hundreds of millions of dollars of gold and silver coins and precious jewels carried by eleven Spanish galleons, accompanied by a French warship that was the only ship to escape the hurricane on July 30, 1715, as the treasure-laden Fleet attempted to sail from Cuba to Spain. Hundreds of seamen and passengers drowned in the vicious storm with the survivors going to St. Augustine or Havana. Although much of the treasure was salvaged over the next few years—and present-day salvors have uncovered millions of dollars in coins and jewels—more treasure remains unclaimed in the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of Florida. Several whole ships have yet to be found.

The first report of the disaster in the November 19, 1715 issue reads: “Letters from the Havana, of the 17th of September, advise that the Flotilla, consisting of Ten Ships, met with such a violent Storm, upon the 31st of July, that they were forced to run ashoar upon the Coasts of Florida, 50 Leagues from Cape S. Augustin, and 20 from Cape Canaveral; and that only one Ship, v.z. the Flying-Hart, escaped: That upon this News, several Ships were immediately sent from the Havana to fish up the Gold and Silver; that good Part of it was already recover’d and particularly that on board the Urza de Lima; and that it was hoped, most of the rest would likewise be got up. They add, that 4 or 500 Men were drown’d, and among them several Passengers. This News was brought to Rochelle by the S. Francis, whose Cargo is very rich, consisting of 500000 Pieces of Eight besides Merchandizes.”

Further details from the December 8 issue are more positive (possibly to buoy public opinion on the disaster). Some of the reporting stated: “We have receiv’d better News concerning the Flota of New Spain…that only two Ships of it were cast away; Some others were indeed run aground upon the Coast of Florida; but all the Gold and Silver, and most of the Merchandizes were taken out of them.” The King then sent four ships to Florida, “…and shall take on board those of the Flota, which amount to 12 Millions of Crowns in Gold and Silver only.”

From the December 17, 1715 issue came the following: “Letters from Cadiz, of the 28th past, say, that all possible Diligence is used in fitting out the Men of War, which are to go and take on board the Cargoes of the Galleons run aground upon the Coast of Florida. By a Vessel arrived from thence they heard, that the Galleons could not be put a float again; but the Chests of Gold and Silver had been all taken up, and great part of the Merchandizes; so that only the Cochineal will be lost.”

Finally, after just over six months of salvage attempts, the July 3, 1716 issue reported the following gleaned from letters from Havanna at the end of March: “…they had recover’d out of the Capitana, a thousand Chests of Silver, and seven hundred and fifty out of the Admirante (Almiranta), but no Merchandizes out of those two Ships, whereas all those of the Urca de Lima had been fish’d up; that some English Barques being come in Sight of Palmaer, five (Spanish) Barques were fitted out at the Havana to observe them; that nevertheless the English seiz’d some Part of the Plate above specify’d whereupon a Deputy was order’d from the Havana to the Governor of Jamaica to complain of that proceeding….”

These newspapers represent highly important accounts of the disaster and the subsequent attempts to salvage the enormous treasure Spain and other European countries were counting on for their economies. In our time, ironically, these newspapers are vastly rarer than the treasure itself! Direct Link

 

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