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coinoisseur

*** Shipwreck Coins - Artefacts & Memorabilia ***

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geejay50

The Wreck of the Visch 1739,

 

Hi Anthony excuse the big delay but I was not going to post until I had a way of loading pics.

 

The above VOC wreck has an interesting story. She was accidentally sailed onto the rocks on what is now Green Point on a calm sea because the Captain mistook the Fire the Military was burning during a carnival on shore as one of the fire beacons marking the entry of Table Bay in those pre Eskom days.

 

Much of the Specie and Crew on board were saved by running a Rope from the Ship to shore and using a Copper Cauldron as a ferry along the rope. The story has it that the Butler and two boxes containing coinage were being ferried when the arm of the Cauldron broke (Butlers are often overweight!!) and the whole lot fell into the sea. Thus two chests were lost and hence coins have been found in the area off Green Point lighthouse. Somebody made a painting of the shipwreck of the Visch with the rope and the Army carnival as a rather unusual scenario.

 

Here are some pics of a Dutch Ducatoon (Overyssel mint) found in the 1980s. They were uncirculated at the time being minted in the year of wreckage. This coin has a chisel mark from the diver on the Reverse.Some smelly Canon Balls (Canons were made from very inferior sulphur cointaining steel) and an old steel Canon are on the site as well.

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Pierre_Henri

The Vis Shipwreck

 

I am not sure if the maritime job of butler and steward was the same in those days, but my records show that it was the steward who lost it on the rope!

 

By the way, the Vis went down in 1840 and not 1839.

 

See page 65 of Malcolm Turner's Shipwrecs & Salvage in Southern Africa (1988).

 

I am sure that you are familiar with the books of Lawrence Green. In one whose name I forgot, he (Green) tells the story of the greedy & oversized seaman in the cauldron loosing all the coins when the rope or cable broke (written in an almost Hemmingwayisque way) .

 

Regards

 

Pierre

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Pinkx

Namibian Shipwreck, the Bom JES*S - Part 1

 

Here is an article I stumbled across on the national geographic website while searching for mining token information. It is an article in the National Geographic - October 2009 issue. So go out and get a copy !!!

 

Shipwreck in the Forbidden Zone

 

Five centuries ago a ship loaded with gold wrecked off a beach laden with diamonds.

By Roff Smith

 

History rarely unfolds like a fable. But consider this: A 16th-century Portuguese trading vessel, carrying a fortune in gold and ivory and bound for a famed spice port on the coast of India, is blown far off course by a fierce storm while trying to round the southern tip of Africa. Days later, battered and broken, the ship founders on a mysterious, fogbound coast sprinkled with more than a hundred million carats of diamonds, a cruel mockery of the sailors' dreams of riches. None of the castaways ever return home.

 

This improbable yarn would have been lost forever had it not been for the astonishing discovery in April 2008 of a shipwreck in the beach sands of the Sperrgebiet—the fabulously rich and famously off -limits De Beers diamond-mining lease near the mouth of the Orange River on Namibia's southern coast. A company geologist working in mining area U-60 came across what at first he took to be a perfectly round half sphere of rock. Curious, he picked it up and immediately realized it was a copper ingot. A strange trident-shaped mark on its weathered surface turned out to be the hallmark of Anton Fugger, one of Renaissance Europe's wealthiest financiers. The ingot was the type traded for spices in the Indies in the first half of the 16th century.

 

Archaeologists would later find a staggering 22 tons of these ingots beneath the sand, as well as cannon and swords, ivory and astrolabes, muskets and chain mail—thousands of artifacts in all. And gold, of course, fistfuls of gold: more than 2,000 beautiful, heavy coins—mainly Spanish excelentes bearing the likenesses of Ferdinand and Isabella, but also a smattering of Venetian, Moorish, French, and other coinage, as well as exquisite portugueses with the coat of arms of King João III. It is by far the oldest shipwreck ever found on the coast of sub-Saharan Africa, and the richest. Its dollar value is anyone's guess, but none of its treasures have fired the imaginations of the world's archaeologists as much as the wreck itself: a Portuguese East Indiaman from the 1530s, the heart of the age of discovery, with its cargo of treasure and trade goods intact, having lain untouched and unsuspected in these sands for nearly 500 years.

 

"This is a priceless opportunity," says Francisco Alves, the doyen of Portuguese maritime archaeologists and the head of nautical archaeology under the Ministry of Culture. "We know so little about these great old ships. This is only the second one ever excavated by archaeologists. All the others were plundered by treasure hunters." Treasure hunters are never going to be a problem here, not in the middle of one of the world's most jealously guarded diamond mines, on a coast whose very name—Sperrgebiet—means "forbidden zone" in German. Far from plundering, officials at De Beers and in the Namibian government, who work the lease as a joint venture called Namdeb, suspended their operations around the wreck site, called in a team of archaeologists, and for a few gloriously diverting weeks mined history instead of diamonds.

 

It will take scholars years to study the wealth of material gleaned from the Diamond Shipwreck, as it has come to be called. "So much is unknown," says Filipe Vieira de Castro, the Portuguese-born coordinator of the nautical archaeology program at Texas A&M University. Castro has spent more than ten years studying Portuguese trading vessels, or naus, lately developing computer models based on the slender archaeological pickings available. "This wreck will give us new insights into everything from hull design, rigging, and how these ships evolved, to little day-to-day things such as how they cooked meals on board and what people brought with them on these great journeys."

 

Already, some inspired detective work among the rare manuscripts and royal archives in Lisbon has cobbled together enough bits and pieces to tell the tale of a long-forgotten voyage and a vanished ship that turned out to be as rich in irony and allegory as it was in gold. The story begins on a fresh spring day in Lisbon—Friday, the seventh of March, 1533, to be exact—when the great naus of that year's India fleet sailed grandly down the Tagus River and out into the broad Atlantic, flags and pennants flying and colorful silks and velvets draped from their towering castles. These were the pride of Portugal, the space shuttles of their day, off on a 15-month odyssey to bring back a fortune in pepper and spices from distant continents. Goa, Cochin, Sofala, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Ternate: Storied places that once had been as remote as the stars were now familiar ports of call, part of the Portuguese vernacular, thanks to Portuguese ingenuity and cutting-edge technology.

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Pinkx

Namibian Shipwreck, the Bom JES*S - Part 2

 

The outbound ships that sailed down the Tagus River in 1533 were sturdy and capable; two of them were brand-new and owned by the king himself. One of these was the Bom Jes*s — the Good J*sus — captained by one Dom Francisco de Noronha and carrying 300 or so sailors, soldiers, merchants, priests, nobles, and slaves. PINNING A NAME and a story to an anonymous, five-centuries-old shipwreck found unexpectedly on a far-flung shore takes canny sleuthing and more than a little luck—particularly if it is thought likely to have been an early Portuguese wreck. Although the Spanish Empire left mountains of paperwork in its wake, a catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and fire in November 1755 virtually wiped Lisbon off the map and sent the Casa da India, the building that housed the vast majority of precious maps, charts, and shipping records, tumbling into the Tagus River.

 

"That left a huge hole in our history," says Alexandre Monteiro, a maritime archaeologist and researcher who works with the Portuguese Ministry of Culture. "With no India archives left to peruse, one has to revert to other, more imaginative ways of finding information." In this instance, a vital clue came from the coins found in abundance on the wreck—particularly those beautiful and rare portugueses of King João III. These were minted for only a few years, from 1525 to 1538, after which they were recalled, melted down, and never reissued. Finding so many sparkling new portugueses on the wreck is a strong indication that the ship sailed during this 13-year window in time. Moreover, the load of copper ingots suggests the ship was on its outward passage to India to buy spices rather than returning.

 

Although the complete Casa da India records are long gone, some tantalizing snippets remain in libraries and archives that survived the 1755 earthquake. Among these are the Relações das Armadas, the so-called narratives of the fleets. A thorough study of the most complete narratives shows that 21 ships were lost on the way to India between 1525 and 1600. Only one of these went down anywhere near Namibia: the Bom Jes*s, which sailed in 1533 and was "lost on the turn of the Cape of Good Hope."

 

Another intriguing pointer to the Bom J*sus comes from a letter Monteiro unearthed in the royal archives. Dated February 13, 1533, it reveals that King João had just sent a knight to Seville to pick up 20,000 crusadoes' worth of gold from a consortium of businessmen who had invested in the fleet that was about to sail for India—the fleet that included the Bom J*sus. Archaeologists had been puzzled by the huge quantity of Spanish coins found among the wreckage—about 70 percent of the gold pieces were excelentes, unexpected for a Portuguese ship. "This letter would go a long way toward explaining that," says Monteiro. "Spanish investors, it seems, had an unusually large stake in the 1533 fleet."

 

A rare 16th-century tome called the Memória das Armadas even offers a tantalizing glimpse of the Bom J*sus. Issued as a commemorative volume, a sort of Renaissance-era coffee-table book, it contains illustrations of all the fleets that sailed for India each year after Vasco da Gama pioneered the route in 1497. Among the pictures for 1533 is a vignette of two rigged masts under full sail disappearing into the waves and the words "Bom Jes*s" together with a simple epitaph: perdido—lost. So what did happen? It seems that four months or so after its grand departure from Lisbon, the first fleet of 1533 was struck and scattered by a huge storm. Details are sketchy. An account of the voyage by Captain Dom João Pereira, the fleet's commander, has been lost. All that remains is a clerk's acknowledgement that the report was received and a mention that the Bom Jes*s disappeared in wild weather somewhere off the cape.

 

It is easy to envision what might have happened next: The storm-battered ship was caught up in the powerful winds and currents that surge along the southwest African coast and was driven helplessly northward for hundreds of miles. As the windswept scrub of the Namib Desert hove into view, the doomed nau struck an outcrop of rock about 150 yards from shore. The shuddering blow broke off a big chunk of the stern, spilling tons of copper ingots into the sea and sending the Bom Jes*s to its grave. FAST-FORWARD five centuries to a maritime archaeology site that feels slightly surreal. A knot of researchers in hats and sunscreen are excavating a sunken ship that rests some 20 feet below sea level, the Atlantic Ocean held back by a massive earthen retaining wall that leaks a bit along its base. Closed-circuit television cameras, set up around the perimeter of the site, monitor everyone's movements—a reminder that for all the excitement of the find, this is still a diamond mine. And a rich one, where loose diamonds could well be mingled in the sands the archaeologists are brushing away.

 

"If it hadn't been for those copper ingots weighing everything down, there would be nothing left here to find," says Bruno Werz, director of the Southern African Institute of Maritime Archaeology, who was called in from Cape Town to assist with the excavation. "Five centuries of storms and waves would have washed everything away." Werz and a team of researchers have been poring over the wreckage, measuring, photographing, scanning the site millimeter by millimeter with a state-of-the-art, three-dimensional laser scanner. They are trying, among other things, to piece together the ship's final harrowing moments, which would not have been pretty—the mangled remains of the hull and forecastle and a tangle of sails, spars, and rigging sloshing about in the swell, drifting north with the current and probably breaking apart as it went. Mine workers found a huge wooden rigging block three miles farther up the coast.

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Pinkx

Namibian Shipwreck, the Bom JES*S - Part 3 (Final)

 

And what of the people on board, Dom Francisco and the rest? "A winter storm along this coast is no joke," says Dieter Noli, the mine's resident archaeologist, who has lived and worked along this stretch of the Namib Desert for more than ten years. "It would have been nasty, with winds of over 80 miles an hour and a huge breaking surf. Getting ashore would have been just about impossible. On the other hand, if the storm had blown itself out and the ship wallowed ashore on one of those quiet, fog-shrouded days we also get around here, well, now that opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities."

 

That may have happened. Although the discovery of human toe bones in a shoe found pinned beneath a mass of timbers indicates that at least one person did not survive, those were the only human remains recovered from the wreck. And few personal possessions were found among the artifacts. These facts lead archaeologists to believe that despite the breakup of the ship along the surf line, many if not most of those aboard made it to land. And then what? This is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, an uninhabited wasteland of sand and scrub stretching for hundreds of miles. It was winter. They were cold and wet, exhausted and bereft. There was no hope of rescue or a search party, for nobody in the outside world knew they were alive, let alone where to start looking. Nor was any ship likely to pass this way by chance; they were far off the trade routes. As for somehow getting back to Portugal—well, the crew might as well have been shipwrecked on Mars.

 

All the same, things needn't necessarily have ended badly for the castaways, according to Noli. The Orange River lay only 16 miles to the south of the wreck, a source of fresh water whose bloom they might have noticed as they drifted by its mouth. And there was plenty of food about: shellfish, seabird eggs, and loads of desert land snails. What's more, the Portuguese could have met the local survival experts. Winter was the season when hunter-gatherers known today as Bushmen ventured north along this shore in hopes of finding the carcasses of the southern right whales that occasionally wash ashore here.

 

How the Portuguese fared in these encounters would have been up to them, says Noli. "If they had the wit to trade rather than try to take, there is no reason to believe everybody wouldn't get along. The few small bands of hunter-gatherers along the river had no population-resource pressures to contend with, and so no reason to be aggressive to the newcomers. On the contrary, a big, strapping Portuguese dom could well have been seen as an attractive prospect for a son-inlaw." Whatever their final fate, the survivors of the Bom J*sus had no inkling of the exquisite irony with which their prayers, uttered so long ago in Lisbon, had been answered. They'd set off on a great journey in search of riches, pledging altars and icons for favor and success. Now here they were, delivered onto a shore of unimaginable wealth—a 185-mile stretch of desert so fantastically rich in high-quality diamonds that in the early 1900s an explorer named Ernst Reuning made a wager with a companion about the amount of time it would take to fill a tin cup with gems found loose in the sand. The job took all of ten minutes.

 

For long ages the great river had been washing millions, even billions of diamonds down from deposits as far as 1,700 miles inland. Only the hardest, most brilliant, gem-quality stones, some weighing hundreds of carats, survived the journey. They spilled into the Atlantic at the river's mouth and were washed up the coast, borne by the same cold current that would one day sweep the Bom Jes*s to its death.

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xanthea

Shipwreck coin Hunting

 

Its great to read about whats going on in the world of shipwrecks and more so about the coins, but there seems to be awfully little happening at best....anybody got a little something potting somewhere? :confused:

 

If you have please give me a shout.

 

Mike

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lilythepink

Did you see the news last night (17.11.09) about the unexploded bombs found on Durban beach? Holly ha!

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Pierre_Henri

Anthony, do you perhaps have Journal 2 of the Association of SA Numismatic Societies? If so, look at the article written by DR FK Mitchell (pages 1 to 4) on the "Geat Gale in Table Bay 19th July 1878" and the pictures of the ultra rare medals awarded for personal bravery. I wonder if any of these decorations are known to current Bobbers?

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coinoisseur

Yes Pierre I do have the Journal. I will pull it out and try and publish here. I wonder what's happening with the wreck found at the De Beers site in SWA.........

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Pierre_Henri
Yes Pierre I do have the Journal. I will pull it out and try and publish here. I wonder what's happening with the wreck found at the De Beers site in SWA.........

 

Looks like everything has been salvaged - this was a recent report from August this year ...

 

allAfrica.com: Namibia: Sunken Ship Treasure Successfully Rescued

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Patricia_Gert

Hi Pierre,

 

Thank you for posting the link! Very interesting.

 

It would be interesting to see the details of the types of coins found on the shipwreck. Also there are no mention of silver bars or coinage?

 

Kind Regards

Gert

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Little Miss Muffet

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MrAerospace

Interesting coin indeed. We have several old coins which have been turned into "jewellery". Perhaps it was a fad in bygone days?

 

Hope that your lovely coin hasn't been damaged and that the metal bits can be removed without damaging the coin.

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Pierre_Henri

The "problem" with shipwreck coins is that they are graded as "environmentally damaged" (not sure how to spell that)

 

Then they do not get a numerical grade but are only authenticated.

 

So when they are ex mounted (jewellery removed) it does not downsize their grade because they have already been "black listed" with a "details" grade.

 

But maybe of late things changed with the grading companies - I am not sure if "onlangse" NGC slabs will have numerical graded shipwreck coins?

 

Just not sure ...

 

Pierre

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Pinkx

Construction team finds shipwreck at V&A Waterfront

 

From today's Engineering News:

 

"Construction company WBHO has found a wooden shipwreck during excavation works for a new office block in the Clock Tower precinct of the V&A Waterfront, the South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) said on Thursday.Workers last week uncovered a section of wooden wreck covered by ballast, cannon balls and a small, broken cannon.

“This wreck represents a rare reminder of the secret, and often forgotten, maritime heritage of Cape Town,” Sahra said in a statement.

Large portions of the city and harbour now cover the old anchorage, beaches and colonial coastal infrastructure. Ships driven ashore by strong winter storms once littered the shore around Woodstock, Paarden Eiland and the sea floor from Greenpoint to Salt River.

Academics, students and volunteers are carefully brushing soil from the remains of the unknown wreck in an effort to record its structure and collect data that may give clues to its age and identity, while construction activities continue unabated.

The team has been assembled from individuals who recently attended training and field school activities offered by Sahra, as part of an ongoing maritime archaeology development programme funded by a grant from the Dutch government.

“The programme is raising awareness of maritime and underwater cultural heritage in South Africa and is making important links between South Africa’s varied cultures,” Sahra said.

Participants in the programme are studying sites as diverse as Lake Fundudzi, in Limpopo, stonewalled fish weirs on the east coast, the maritime landscape of Table Bay, and shipwrecks.

“The programme is also building capacity in marine and heritage institutions which would assist with the management of submerged sites and is getting divers and other interested communities involved in recording wrecks around the coast,” Sahra added.

 

Edited by: Mariaan Webb"

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Pinkx

17 tons of silver from shipwreck taken to Spain

 

From New24:

 

"Tampa - A 17-ton trove of silver coins recovered from a Spanish ship sunk by British warships on a voyage home from South America in 1804 was set to be flown on Friday from the US to Spain, concluding a nearly five-year legal struggle with the Florida deep-sea explorers who found and recovered it.

 

Odyssey Marine Exploration made an international splash in 2007 when it discovered the wreck of the ship, believed to be the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, off Portugal's coast.

 

At the time, the coins were estimated to be worth as much as $500m to collectors, which would have made it the richest shipwreck haul in history.

 

Spain's ambassador to the United States, Jorge Dezcallar de Mazar, was expected to watch on Friday when two Spanish military aircraft take off from a Florida Air Force base with 594 000 silver coins and other artifacts aboard.

 

The Spanish government requested a high-security operation, and key details arranged with US authorities weren't disclosed.

 

On Thursday, the Peruvian government made an emergency appeal to the US Supreme Court seeking to block transfer of the treasure to give Peru more time to argue that it is the treasure's rightful owner.

 

Nothing new

 

Peru says the gold and silver was mined, refined and minted in that country, which at the time was part of the Spanish empire. The appeal was directed to Justice Clarence Thomas, who did not indicate when he would respond.

 

US courts had previously rejected claims by descendants of the Peruvian merchants who had owned the coins aboard the Mercedes.

 

"Peru is making the same arguments that have been rejected at every level of the US courts," said James Goold, a Washington attorney who represents the Spanish government. "There's absolutely nothing new in it."

 

The head spokesperson for Peru's embassy in Washington, Rodolfo Pereira, declined to comment on Thursday.

 

Odyssey - which uses a remote-controlled submersible to explore the sea depths - had previously argued that as the finder it was entitled to all or most of the treasure. The Spanish government filed a claim in US District Court soon after the coins were flown to Florida, contending that it never relinquished ownership of the ship or its contents.

 

Odyssey argued that the wreck was never positively identified as the Mercedes. And if it was, the company contended, then the ship was on a commercial trade trip, not a sovereign mission, meaning Spain would have no firm claim to the cargo.

 

Politics

 

International treaties generally hold that warships sunk in battle are protected from treasure seekers.

 

Odyssey lost every round in federal courts. This month, a federal judge ordered the company to give Spain access to the treasure this week to ready it for transport. Odyssey said it would no longer oppose Spain's claims.

 

The company has blamed politics for the courts' decisions, since the US government publicly backed Spain's efforts. In several projects since then, Odyssey has worked with the British government on efforts to salvage that nation's sunken ships, with agreements to share what it recovers.

 

The company has said in earnings statements that it has spent $2.6m salvaging, transporting, storing and conserving the treasure.

 

But it is not expected to receive any compensation from the Spanish government because Spain has maintained that the company should not have tried to salvage it in the first place.

 

The Spanish Culture Ministry recently said the coins are classified as national heritage and must stay inside that country, where they will be exhibited in museums. It ruled out the idea of the treasure being sold to ease Spain's national debt in a country grappling with a 23% jobless rate and a stagnant economy."

 

 

- AP

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