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Why are Shipwreck Coins Valuable? 

Shipwreck coins stand out like a beacon on the horizon in the numismatic world. They tell a tale of tragedy and patience before their recovery from Davy Jones’s Locker. One of the reasons shipwreck coins are valuable is that of the many recorded shipwrecks and ships lost at sea; few are recovered.  

Fewer recovered shipwrecks have viable coins on board since their cargo has often been scattered into the depths of the water. Of those, even fewer have coins that go up for sale after recovery, as museums and other national institutions vie for the coveted coins and other artifacts. Shipwreck coins are exceedingly rare, having been in the ocean for years, centuries, and, in some cases, for millennia. This rarity is a major element of the value of shipwreck coins and impacts the market demand, which also adds to their value. 

Factors that Impact Shipwreck Sites 

Water Quality and Oxygenation 

While oxygen-rich environments are stellar for fostering life, they are not conducive to preserving coins and other historic artifacts. Locations like the Black Sea are almost void of oxygen, and shipwrecks that have been recovered there exhibit remarkable preservation. 

An example of anoxic or oxygen-free shipwreck sites is the Black Sea Greek merchant ship, which sunk around 400 B.C. The site was more than 2,000 meters below the ocean’s surface, which helped further preserve the wreckage from divers. Due to the anoxic environment and stable waters, the rudder, mast, hull, and deck were almost fully intact.  

Conversely, shipwrecks found in shallow waters will exhibit greater deterioration due to more oxygen-rich water and greater sea movement.  

Legal Challenges and Territory Disputes 

Shipwrecks may lie in murky waters in more than one sense. Some shipwreck sites can be in contested areas where more than one sovereign nation lays claim to the wreckage or to the bounty aboard.  

One case of that occurring was with the Black Swan Project, which recovered approximately $500 million in gold and silver coins from an undisclosed site. When it was revealed that the wreckage was that of the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, a Spanish frigate that sank in 1804, the Spanish government sued in U.S. courts.  

The Spanish government won, and the 17 tons of predominantly silver coins were returned to Spain, where they now reside in the National Museum of Subaquatic Archeology. This illustrates another reason for the value of shipwreck coins- Their historic value is even coveted by museums.  

The Future of Shipwreck Coins 

As technology advances and grows more powerful, it is likely that more shipwreck sites will be discovered and explored. Utilizing robotics to recover lost treasure helps ensure accurate data and safe retrieval efforts.  

One of the most noteworthy and potentially valuable shipwrecks was the San Jose.  The San Jose was a Spanish galleon sunk by the British navy in 1708 off the coast of Colombia. In the skirmish, gunpower aboard the San Jose ignited, resulting in an explosion. Its cargo hold contained about 200 tons of gold, silver, and gems with an estimated value of up to $20 billion in today’s currency.  

The site of the San Jose was discovered in 2015, and the Colombian government has claimed ownership of this wreck. The current Colombian President, Gustavo Petro, has set a target date of 2026 to recover the wreckage. As recently as the month of this writing, plans are underway to send an underwater robot to extract the first items from the wreckage and assess their condition.  

How to Begin Collecting Shipwreck Coins 

Shipwreck coins bring an authentic element of mystery and history from the depths of the ocean floor to any numismatic collection. They offer a chance to have a physical piece of the compelling stories of shipwrecks and lost gold. Many shipwreck coins command a significant premium, although the entry point can be as low as $150.  

Whether your goal is to assemble a menagerie of coins steeped in the mystery and history of the high seas or to add one shipwreck coin to your collection, treasure awaits. 

Quick Guides to Investing

Step 1:

Why Buy Physical Gold and Silver?

If you are concerned about the volatility of the stock market, you’re not alone. The extreme highs and lows of the stock market often lead investors towards safe-haven assets, like bullion. Historically, the Precious Metals market has an inverse relationship with the stock market, meaning that when stocks are up, bullion is down and vice versa.

Step 2:

How Much Gold and Silver Should You Have?

This question is one of the most important for investors to answer. After all, experts suggest limits on how much of any types of investments should go into a portfolio. After deciding to purchase and own Precious Metals and considering how much money to allocate, one can then think about how much and what to buy at any point in time.

Step 3:

Which Precious Metals Should I Buy?

With the frequent changes in the market and countless Precious Metal products available, choosing investments can be difficult. Some want Gold or Silver coins, rounds or bars while others want products that are valuable because of their design, mintage or other collectible qualities. Also, collectors may shop for unique sets and individual pieces for their collections.

Step 4:

When to Buy Gold & Silver

After considering why, how much, and what Precious Metals products to buy, an investor’s next step is when to buy them. This decision requires an understanding of market trends and the impact of economic factors on precious metal prices.

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