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Coins from the SS republic - worth it?

20 posts in this topic

Theres a lot of hype around the recovery of gold coins from the SS Republic, Shop at home is apparently selling the large bulk of them sometime in May, and a number of major networks are airing programs about the ship and its cargo.


I think its pretty cool to have a coin "raised from the sea" but I'm a little worried about the markup that will be taken on these coins, especially given their seller. Any opinions if this is worth the cost (I havent heard any prices quoted yet)?



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I don't know the costs of the pieces, however, I already know that I won't be interested. A much less expensive alternative to one of these gold coins is to get an eight reales that has been sea salvaged. These are quite common as such and they generally run less than $200. Also, quite a few of the ancient coins offered are actually farm-dig finds. These are also quite inexpensive, considering the history involved.

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I think I will wait and see what they are selling and at what price. I would like to get a high grade type 1 double eagle, so I will probable get a Central America or Brother Jonathan piece. If these coins are comparable, perhaps I would buy one, but I am not interested in the history as much as a Choice BU type 1 double eagle.

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I think I'll be watching on the 15th when they release them, but whats the normal markup on coins on TV? And if any NGC people are reading this, can you get us some pre release price quotes!?



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Jill, the words "hype" and "sold on television" mean IMO that you will get ripped-off if you buy what they are selling. Figure they will ask you for your first born child for one of these coins.


On the serious side, they will ask the absolute maximum they think they can get for the particular coin. The more hype means the more they want for a coin. It's just like when you look in an auction catalogue, the longer a coin's description, the higher the amount they expect they'll get for the particular lot.


I'd suggest you buy a type coin in the grade you want from someone you trust after inspecting the particular coin.


Tom B also has a good suggestion.

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Worth is a relative term. I remember someone had a rare penny that he paid well over market value for and it was the talk of the coin industry for months. When the coin came on the market again the bids were 25% higher than what he paid for the penny. Was it worth that much?


Your question is an important one. I have wondered what the extra worth should be for having a piece of history. I do not think 500% over face value but what about 4 times face value? Of course, I would expect some extra value, like a DVD, a piece of the ship, letter of authenticity or other assorted items attached to the coin purchase. On top of that, my understanding is that some coins will not have a grade attached to them – so how is worth attached to that coin?


I think the SS Republic will be good for the coin industry and for the collector. It will be a piece of history that I could not get anywhere else. I will remember the lives sacrificed, wonder who had owned one of the coins, or the era these coins have had in US history.


Yes, worth is an important question and relative to one’s perspective. I would buy a SS Republic coin because I love coins, so worth will be measured by my love for the coin and the history of the SS Republic and not in what price I paid for it.




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I've seen them sell "themed" sets often enough, although the binion one was cool, and I did get one, I still kick myself considering how much I paid. If they charge $500 for a couple certified silver pieces, imagine what can be charged for gold!


Heres my problem, when one industry has all the coins they can set the rates. BUT considering the cargo of this ship, and the quality of restoration, there has to be a limit on how much they can charge. I seriously doubt that there is an audience for the 3am coin show that can afford a few thousand, or hundred thousand dollars for one of these coins. Does that mean that the prices will be reasonable? You'd also think that they wouldnt want to gauge too much, or else they decrease their ability to create a secondary market...


I think I'm just driving myself nuts... I do want to get one, but really would prefer not to be ripped off too much. I'm thinking that the higher priced coins might be better than the lower ones... thoughts?



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My understanding is that there are some very unique coins found. I have been told by NGC that they are taking scrupulous notes on each coin and many of the traditional coin books will have to be re-written.


I believe the price will reflect the year and mintage of each coin. So, if a coin has a wholesale value of $125.00 then it would sell for $500.00. The balance of the value (above the $125.00) would come in extra’s value items like the one’s mentioned above. I am only guessing at this formula but we will have to wait till May to find out.


Personally, I would look to the rarer coin for my purchase.



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Todd, two people can agree to disagree on this issue. I am a coin collector, period. I am not at all interested in the history of the Ship.


Therefore, I attach zero additional value to any coin which has been salvaged from it. Ie., an 1855-S Double Eagle of a specific grade is worth the same to me, whether I buy it from an auction, a dealer, or from the Ship.


I collect primarily type. When someone calls a coin 'unique,' to me, it usually means that he / she is trying to get more $ for it. It's a variant of everything being called 'PQ,' it's just that more $ is involved this time around.

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I have to agree with Elcontador but for a different reason.


I AM interested in the history behind the ship and the coins recovered, but do not think any premium should be placed on any of them simply because of the history. A coin is a coin is a coin. Any additional "value" should not be inherently attached on top of what the type, date, mm, and grade of a coin would normally command.


IMO, the recovered coins will bring significant $$$ without adding on a historical value. Why gouge those of us that may be able to afford one of them as graded, but not as priced?


Adding extra value to historically significant coinage is the same as adding extra points for eye appeal. Shouldn't be done FOR us and let the market decide anything beyond technically merited value.



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I totally agree. I have an 1895 O morgan that I paid the wholesale price for. The history behind it is that the reverse has stipling on it. For those who dont live in my morbid world, stipling is the remnants of the hot ash and gasses put out by a firearm when fired at close range. Whoever owned this coin before me was probably shot, at close range, with the coin on their person. As an assistant district attorney, this is cool. I had it looked at by someone at the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) and they cant date the stipling without swiping the coin and damaging it with the chemicals. I can only guess who owned it, where they were shot, when, and if they survived... cool...


I'd love to own a coin from the bottom of the ocean, it adds to the mystery of the whole thing. That doesnt mean that I'd overpay for it, though. I'm willing to add a bit for the story and cost of excavation...but NOT paying $500 for a $150 coin. Thats just ridiculous. Given the overall disagreement posted on this thread, and considering that WE are probably major buyers, I would hope that the marketing people would take all that into account when pricing items. But then again, there is a lot of Hype, and hype cost $$$.


Does anyone know how many coins there are and if this will diminish the value of the coins already in "circulation?"



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I think in this instance it may be helpful to look to the past as a guide for these coins. Jill asks an excellent question in what will these do to those already extant, and we have limited experience there. I know with the Central America, prior to it's discovery and the restoration efforts, the 1857-S double eagle was a key rarity in mint state, and I'm not sure what prices were established before hand, but now you can pretty easily (if you have the funds) acquire one in MS-63 to MS-65. But keep in mind, these coins weren't really available at all before, so it's hard to assess the impact. I am not as familiar with the 1865-S double eagles from the Brother Jonathan, but my guess is a similar story. Now as we see the market performance of these coins over the years subsequent to their release, the prices have held up pretty well, though I do recall the SSCA coins fell pretty dramatically in the first year or two after their release, only to rebound later. That rebound had everything to do with numismatic value and little if anything to do with the historical value outside the provenance. Ultimately with any US Mint struck coin from any of these wrecks, the value will ultimately be determined by the numismatic importance of each piece (grade, date, mint, overall rarity etc.). I suppose this also holds true for territorial coins. The big exception is the assay bars, which are each unique, and very heavily weighted to the historical side, with limited influence by the numismatic side. I just read that a Central America assay bar recently sold for $27,500 per ounce of gold (I can't recall how big that bar was). That premium is almost exclusively due to the historical significance of the piece.

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Those are some good points, Jeff and Jill. On these conserved coins, I would think that there is an impact on their numismatic attractiveness due to the conservation techniques employed. I don't know what the final product looks like, however, they can hardly be called original-skinned coins. In that way, I think that the already known coins of these dates should hold some sway over the newly marketed pieces. Depending on the numbers of coins available, and the market for them, we may be able to look back at the US Mint bags of Morgan dollars that were made available in the early and mid-60s to see what happened to some previously difficult dates. Wasn't there at least one extremely difficult date (1904-O?) that turned out to be common after the liquidation. As for the assay bars, some of the premium may very well be due to the idea that these are guaranteed to be contemporary assay bars. After all, many assay bars that were previously thought to be original are now questioned as to their provenance. In essence, these assay bars are "certified" by their presence on this wreck as to having been from when they are purported to be while many other bars on the market have a cloud of questionable authenticity above them.

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Tom, I think you are thinking of the 1903-O as the date that was most impacted by the government bags, though there were likely others. I would agree with you that original coins would be worth a premium to these conserved coins, however we have very limited populations of original coins in such grades. For example, I think there are extremely few choice to gem BU type 1 double eagles to begin with, and certainly no 1857-S coins. Now they did also pull up some lower grade circulated (though lightly) coins from 1855 and 1856, but I not sure if their values are greater or less than original AU coins. I think that would be the most instructive comparison to illustrate the impact of these coins on the market.

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I am and have been fascinated with the discovery of the Republic . It appeals to the treasure seeking / numismatic fever that many of us have. However, I feel that the find is severely cheapened by pawning the coins off via The Coin Vault . And, make no mistake, they will sell out at an exorberant premium. Such a shame that mainly only the numismatically ignorant shall obtain a piece of this treasure. frown.gif


I have a sick and possibly morbid love/hate relationship with this show. I love coins and often work nights so I'm usually up in the wee hours of the morning on my days off. So, naturally, I watch The Coin Vault often, and have for a few years now. I have seen their prices rise and rise since the public continues to be duped by their showmanship (been there, done that). I remember that one year ago, a roll of BU Morgans sold for $300. Now, a roll of cleaned AU - BU Morgans sells for $400. A four piece 2004 gold bullion set graded by NGC as ms 69 is selling for $1650. That's at least $650 more than fair retail. A worn roll of buffalo nickels is now selling for fifty bucks a roll plus shipping and handling. Ridiculous! Effing bandits they are. But, to be fair, they do offer a 30 day money back guarentee. Not too many businesses offer such a liberal return policy. So, who is to fault? The legal piracy of televised peddlers or the extreme ignorance of the public? I guess that is open to interpretation.


I would say that it is extremely doubtful for a purchaser to recoup their losses w/i the next decade or two. Remember when gold bars from the Central America were melted down to strike reproductions of the Kellogg's $50 California gold coins? They originally sold for $5000. Just recently, I saw one of those coins selling for less than half of that by a retailer. This means that the seller probably got $1500 to $2000 for the restrike. Now, that ain't too profitable I'd say.


Well, I guess that I'm just a Rambling man (in the words of Waylon Jennings) cool.gif and will leave you with this interesting update concerning the Republic. :



From : Odyssey Marine Exploration


Sent : Friday, April 23, 2004 8:03 AM


Subject : Shipwreck Update:Coin Sales To Begin In May





Odyssey Marine Exploration issued the following press release



Odyssey SS Republic Project Update

Coin Sales To Begin In May



TAMPA, FL - April 23, 2004 - Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.

(Amex: OMR) a leader in the field of deep ocean shipwreck exploration,

will begin selling shipwreck coins from the SS Republic in May.

The first silver coins available will be showcased during a 24-hour

Coin Vault Marathon on Shop At Home Network on May 15. Additional

information on availability of coins can be found at Odyssey’s

website, www.shipwreck.net.


Coins from the SS Republic have been divided into two categories.

The "numismatic collection" contains coins that are indistinguishable

from coins that have never been underwater. These will be priced

to relate to their numismatic value and will not be offered for

sale until Odyssey has completed sufficient coin recovery on

the shipwreck site to provide information regarding the total

population of coins in the collection.


The second category includes handpicked ungraded shipwreck coins

that have been conserved and encased in a certified tamper-resistant

holder by Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS) and Numismatic

Guaranty Corporation (NGC). These coins will be the first available

for sale and will be packaged in an impressive hardwood display

case with an engraved SS Republic plate affixed to the cover.

There will also be a vividly illustrated booklet describing

the shipwreck’s history; a DVD video of the National Geographic

Ultimate Explorer one hour program and a certificate of authenticity

in each case.


The archaeological excavation of the SS Republic shipwreck site

and the recovery of coins are continuing. Among the coins already

recovered are numerous gold eagles, gold double eagles, silver

half dollars and even a few quarters, nearly all dating between

the 1840's and 1865. Unlike other recent shipwreck finds, a wide

variety of dates and mints have been noted in this find. Based

on the pieces recovered thus far that have been professionally

conserved by NCS and graded and encapsulated by NGC, this collection

already includes over a dozen of the finest-known examples of

United States gold coins from the period.


51,212 coins have been recovered to date, including 2,620 $20

Double Eagles, 1,496 $10 Eagles, 47,094 Half Dollars and 2 quarters.

A detailed report on the coins recovered to date will be released

shortly. According to John Albanese, Numismatic Marketing Strategist

for Odyssey, the retail value of coins recovered to date should

exceed $75 million dollars.


The Odyssey team has excavated about one third of the SS Republic

shipwreck site. The face value of recovered coins represents

22.7% of the "$400,000 in specie" (face value in 1865) that historical

research indicates was on board the Republic when she sank. Odyssey

is now searching for additional deposits of coins as the excavation



"The first cache of coins was lying in a tiny area that was laid

open to us with no pieces of hull or decks obstructing the excavation.

We have recovered all the visible coins in that location and

are now expanding the excavation into the surrounding areas.

We are finding some amazing artifacts, but have not located the

rest of the coins yet." reported Greg Stemm, Odyssey co-founder.


The SS Republic was a sidewheel steamer that sank in 1865 while

en route from New York to New Orleans after battling a hurricane

for two days. Odyssey discovered the shipwreck 1,700 feet below

the surface of the Atlantic Ocean approximately 100 miles off

the Georgia coast.


Odyssey Marine Exploration is an American Stock Exchange Company

(Ticker symbol: OMR) with several shipwreck projects in various

stages of development throughout the world, including the SS

Republic and HMS Sussex projects. Additional information about

Odyssey, its projects and equipment is available at www.shipwreck.net.



p.s. I find it kind of cool that they only found two quarters. I wonder what the dates and mint marks are? 893scratchchin-thumb.gif

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Odyssey Marine Exploration issued the following press release



SS Republic Media Schedule


TAMPA, FL - April 23, 2004 - This Sunday, Odyssey Marine Exploration,

Inc.’s (Amex: OMR) SS Republic shipwreck project is the subject

of the World Premiere of National Geographic Ultimate Explorer,

"Lost Gold of the Republic". In addition, Odyssey and the SS

Republic project are scheduled to be featured on Dateline NBC,

NBC Nightly News, Entertainment Tonight, and Lester Holt Live

on MSNBC prior to the airing of Ultimate Explorer. The scheduled

dates and times are as follows:


Friday, April 23:


Lester Holt Live - MSNBC at 5:30 p.m. ET


Entertainment Tonight (Check local listings)



Saturday, April 24:


NBC Nightly News Feature - 6:30 p.m. ET


Sunday, April 25:


Dateline NBC - 7:00 p.m. ET


National Geographic Ultimate Explorer - MSNBC at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00

p.m. PT and 11:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. PT


Saturday, May 1:


National Geographic Ultimate Explorer - MSNBC at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00

p.m. PT (Repeat)


Note: Scheduling is subject to change at the discretion of the



National Geographic Ultimate Explorer host Lisa Ling dives more

than 1,600 feet to the bottom of the Atlantic aboard a high-tech

submersible, investigating the 138-year-old wreck of the S.S.

Republic, a Civil War-era steamship that sank carrying a fortune

in gold and silver coins. From the moment of the discovery until

now, National Geographic cameras have been on hand to capture

this dramatic story.


"Lost Gold of the Republic" is produced by JWM Productions for

National Geographic Television & Film. Jason Williams, Bill Gardner,

Lori Gibson and Brendan Goeckel are the producers. Christine

S. Romero is the editor. David Royle is the Executive Producer.

For programming information and updates for National Geographic

Ultimate Explorer, please log on to www.nationalgeographic.com/ultimateexplorer.

For additional Odyssey media updates and more information log

on to www.shipwreck.net.

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I just watched the national geographic special on the ship. They didnt cover much of the info we want, but there are some interesting articles on the haul online:


London Times


National Geographic


While a lot of the coins will be WAY out of my reach ($50,000 +) I cant believe that the presence of 750 or more coins wouldnt decrease the price on the existing coins. The sale of the silver coins will be interesting as well, because I'm not sure if anyone counted on them! Who knows...It will be interesting to see...



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You could probably pick up a coin from the Atocha or another 17th century Spanish galleon for a mere fraction of what one of the "We Rape the Masses" late night shows will sell coins from the S.S. Republic.

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You are absolutely right. I'm amused by the shows, though. My personal favorite was the week the shopathometv guy held up the issue of coin world as "prices in the latest numismatic catalog" (showing how great their prices were); that issue had 3-4 letters railing them!


I actually saw some atocha stuff on the show last night, its still crazy priced. I think I'll wait for the re-sale on ebay...


Does anyone know how these guys get their prices? Do they just double everyone else's?



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