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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/18/2014 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

43 gold bars, 1,300 double eagle coins and thousands of pieces of silver culled from underwater wreck

Forty heavy gold bars, easily worth millions of dollars have been recovered by deep-sea explorers in a 150-year-old shipwreck. Divers have recovered thousands of gold and silver coins along with many of personal items that are a virtual time capsule of the California Gold Rush.

Newly unsealed court documents provide the first detailed inventory of the treasure trove listed in the 1857 shipwreck which is worth millions.

Newly unsealed court documents provide the first detailed inventory of the treasure trove listed in the 1857 shipwreck which is worth millions.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/18/2014 (11 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Shipwreck, gold, valuables, South Carolina, SS Central America


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The recovery effort at the SS Central America shipwreck, about 200 miles off the South Carolina coast, began in April. Recovery efforts are expected to last throughout the summer.

Court documents recently opened have provided the first detailed inventory of a treasure from the 1857 shipwreck left at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Directed by a court-appointed receiver of an Ohio company, the operation is being led by a treasure hunter Tommy Thompson, who discovered the Central America in 1988.

Immediately after finding the ship and recovering a mere sliver of its myriad treasures, Thompson became embroiled in a decades-long legal battle over who had rights to the treasure and how it was being dispersed.

Things rapidly went south. None of the investors ever saw a return. In August of 2012, after failing to show up for several court hearings, a warrant was issued for Thompson's arrest. He has been a federal fugitive ever since.

The Central America and its gold in the meantime sat untouched since 1991, the last time Thompson and his team were at the site.

The inventories, unsealed by a federal judge in Virginia this week, show that Odyssey Marine has brought up 43 solid gold bars, 1,300 $20 double eagle gold coins, and thousands more gold and silver coins.

The gold recovered thus far is easily in the millions, based on past sales of such items.

Included among passenger items recovered from the Central America are a safe that contained two cotton pieces of clothing wrapped tightly around gold coins, nuggets, and dust, a pouch with 134 gold double eagles, a leather saddlebag with more nuggets, and a small packet filled with paper and sealed with twine.

Photographs of at least 60 passengers have also been discovered. Left at the bottom of the ocean, explorers will explore options until they can figure out how to safely recover them. The photos are known as ambrotypes, a short-lived type of photography that used glass plates.

"Photographs of any mid-19th century Gold Rush miners are rare, and these ambrotypes are the only examples found on any 19th-century shipwreck worldwide," according to a court report by Odyssey Marine.

The inventories document what Odyssey Marine recovered at the shipwreck from the beginning of the operation on April 15 through June 15. An inventory of operations in the last month should be filed soon. 

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