The story of the SS Central America is both an interesting bit of history and a fascinating piece of the present. With the vessel's discovery and excavation, we in the 21st century have a unique opportunity to make a physical connection with the 19th century. Not only were everyday artifacts from the side-wheeler steamship recovered, but Gold Rush bounty -- gold dust, coins, and ingots -- were found in such great quantities that you can view, read about, and even own a "pinch" of the treasure.
If you'd like even more details about the recovery of the SS Central America, consult our frequently asked questions.
The 1850s marked an extraordinary growth period for America. After discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, "49ers" came from all over the world to strike it rich in the gold fields of California. On March 15, 1849, the San Francisco Californian reported to the world that "gold has been found in considerable quantities." It could be argued that this was the greatest news scoop in American history.
The soaring American economy, fueled by the rapid influxes of fresh real money from the California gold fields, set the stage for the most powerful industrialized nation in the world to develop. This was the decade when the territories comprising the United States of America transformed into a nation. Gold was more than an economic boost to the country. It was the catalyst that caused great numbers of Europeans, Chinese and South Americans to prosper in a region that just years earlier was sparsely populated. The California Gold Rush relics are symbolic of the American dream.
More than 7000 coins from the then-new San Francisco Mint and a few from private coiners were found in the SS Central America wreckage. The most amazing find was the unique California assayer ingots, each stamped with its 1857 currency value. What is astonishing is that they are of a size previously not known to exist and far exceeding anything held in private hands or even in the Smithsonian Institution (which has a representative display of American gold ingots but of significantly smaller size and not of the samples of famous assayers found). Because these items have been so perfectly preserved and now give us evidence of how the early California economy worked, they are being used to write history. Each treasure piece is qualified to have a place in a museum.
The SS Central America, “Ship of Gold” catalogue of rare gold coins and other treasure artifacts is now available to collectors and investors. Own a piece of history – call 888-900-9948 for your FREE catalogue now!
An Enduring Story
The thorough account of the voyage of the SS Central America would not have been possible without the 153 men, women and children who survived to tell the details of the disaster. Because of the newly invented telegraph, news of the shipwreck from a passing vessel traveled quickly so that, on arrival, the survivors were greeted by news reporters who later documented all aspects of the event. In fact, it was these historic records that gave clues that made the recovery possible. You can see why the History Channel's "Ship of Gold" program is so popular that it airs regularly.
Without question, the "Ship of Gold" is, as LIFE Magazine wrote in March 1992, "The Greatest Treasure Ever Found." There are no historic records of any other ship that was lost with a treasure so rich in precious metals and historic significance as that of the SS Central America. Considering the incredible story of the Central America and Tommy Thompson's momentous endeavors, the value of this find will undoubtedly be unsurpassed. The Washington Post's article, on September 14, 1989, summed it up with its title: "Storybook Treasure Found off South Carolina."
Unfortunately, the untiring efforts of Tommy Thompson and the Columbus-America Discovery Group almost met with a less-than-storybook ending thanks to overzealous insurance companies.
Acquire Coins and Gold Ingots
Although most of the gold coins were quickly purchased when released, other perfectly preserved California Gold Rush relics are currently available for acquisition. Ingots, miner's gold and some coins may be acquired through dealers. Monaco Financial is the primary dealer for the most precious items of the treasure-the unique gold ingots-manufactured by the five leading assayers of the time.
The most important private assayer and coin minter of the day was J. G. Kellogg. Among other gold pieces, Kellogg minted a huge 2½-ounce $50 gold coin in 1855. It is with fortuitous happenstance that Kellogg’s large gold assayer ingots survived due to the sinking and recovery of the SS Central America and the sole pair of original dies that survived from the Gold Rush period. Now, the California Historical Society has brought them together to issue a very limited and numismatically significant Gold Commemorative Restrike. This impressive coin is struck in Gem Proof condition from Certified Gold Rush Gold and has been widely reported on in the media and noted in the official numismatic bible, the “Red Book”. Please call 888-900-9948 for availability, pricing and a free pictorial investment kit.
The Monarch of Ingots
The largest specimen of the Central America's treasure is the prized "Eureka" bar weighing 933 ounces. The Eureka bar is stamped with an 1857 currency value of $17,433.57. In early 2001, it was displayed at the museum of the California Historic Society. The San Francisco Chronicle's article of January 12, 2001, The world's largest Gold Rush relic, an 80-pound gold brick, comes home," talks about the Eureka bar as it was exhibited in San Francisco, only blocks from where it was originally created.
The historical significance of these monetary ingots is evidenced as the Eureka bar was acquired for record $8,000,000 price!