“Ship of Gold” exhibit to dock in Long Beach

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February 22, 2018 – The unparalleled SS Central America “Ship of Gold” exhibit will dock with $40 million of glittering “new cargo” sunken treasure at the February 22-24, 2018 Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp & Sports Collectible Expo.

The popular “Ship of Gold” exhibit returns to the February 2018 Long Beach Expo with the first public display of a $40 million portion of the California Gold Rush sunken treasure recovered from the SS Central America in 2014.Photo: Don Pearlman.

This will be the first public display of a portion of the historic gold and silver coins, gold ingots and unopened sacks of treasure gold dust recovered during the 2014 expedition to the Atlantic Ocean site where the Gold Rush-era cargo was lost at sea 161 years ago. The California Gold Marketing Group LLC acquired the never-before-publicly exhibited treasure in a court-approved transaction this past November, and will be publicly displaying the legendary trove for the first time.

“The story of the SS Central America, its cargo, its lost passengers and crew and its survivors is a historic moment in American history, and the recovered items are a time capsule of the great California Gold Rush,” said Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group. “For insurance purposes, we’ve estimated the display’s value at $40 million, but these extraordinary treasures are priceless.”

A few of the 45 historic Gold Rush-era ingots recovered from the SS Central America in 2014.Photo: Phil Arnold/Professional Coin Grading Service.

A 280-foot long, three-masted side-wheel steamship, the SS Central America was carrying tons of California gold that had been shipped from San Francisco to Panama when she sank in a hurricane during a voyage from Aspinwall (now Colon), Panama to New York City in September 1857. The shipwreck site and the gold were discovered more than 7,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in September 1988.

Housed in a 40-foot long re-creation of the famous ship’s hull, the Ship of Gold exhibit originally debuted at the February 2000 Long Beach Expo to display a portion of the vast treasure from the first SS Central America recovery operations in the late 1980s. The exhibit subsequently was seen over the years by millions of people across the United States and overseas.

Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group, examining SS Central America coins on January 10, 2018, soon after an Ohio court formally granted the group possession of the treasure recovered from the Atlantic Ocean in 2014. Photo: Christina Good/Professional Coin Grading Service.

This latest display will showcase many of the 3,100 gold coins, more than 10,000 silver coins and 45 gold ingots that have been held in secure vaults since they were retrieved from the ocean floor four years ago. All the coins are now being certified by Professional Coin Grading Service using the new PCGS Gold Shield service.

“The exhibit also includes a type of historic SS Central America items never before displayed: leather satchels filled with more than 1,000 ounces of 1857 California gold dust that were recovered from a safe on the sunken ship!”, exclaimed Manley. The gold dust is contained in the original pokes, hand-sewn sacks that remained sealed since 1857 or earlier.

“This is truly an international discovery. In addition to all the United States coins, the trove includes many coins from around the world, including two Australian gold sovereigns struck in Sydney in 1855 and 1856, and both are the finest known. There also are gold coins from France, including a Napoleon 20 francs, British gold sovereigns of Queen Victoria, Mexican eight escudos, Netherlands ducats, Dutch guldens and Peruvian gold, too,” said Manley.

Robert D. Evans, the chief scientist on the 1980’s mission that first located and recovered a portion of the fabulous sunken treasure and who assisted with the 2014 recovery, will be at the exhibit each day during the show to meet with visitors.

This 1857-S Double Eagle recovered from the SS Central America in 2014 has spectacular toning after 157 years at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. PCGS Co-Founder David Hall declared: “I’ve never seen a gold coin like this in over 50 years of being involved in numismatics.” Photo: Christina Good/Professional Coin Grading Service.

On January 9, 2018, the California Gold Marketing Group received court approval and formally took possession of the treasure recovered from the SS Central America in 2014. It had already been transported from Florida to the Professional Coin Grading Service headquarters in California, but remained in 38 unopened containers that were sealed in June 2014.

Manley and Evans promptly began opening the sealed containers on January 10, and started the careful process of examining, curating and cataloging the trove, one historic piece of treasure at a time.

The three-day Long Beach Expo will be open to the public, Thursday to Saturday, February 22-24, in the Long Beach, California Convention Center, 100 S. Pine Ave.

You can find the Long Beach Expo here.

This Link takes you to our series about the California gold rush.

There’s also a website dedicated to the SS Central America.