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Shipwreck Specialists
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6 posts in this topic

As members may have heard, the contents of the "Purser's safe," recovered some eight years ago from the floor of the Atlantic in the vicinity of the S.S. CENTRAL AMERICA, has been inventoried, prettied up, and is now on sale.

You, too, can own California gold fractionals----many the finest known, and the principals from whom they can be obtained have even set up their own website, called, what else...FinestKnown.com.  You can even speak to a "shipwreck specialist," at 888-300-4004.

So who's gold was this?  The passengers. A recitation of the salient facts includes: 1857, off the Carolinas, 2-1/2 tons of gold, over 450 lost souls and their personal treasures, a little over 100 gold 25-cent, 50-cent, and $1.00 gold pieces and gold dust, dubbed a "hoard" by newly-minted numismaspeaking promoters.

As I recall, from reading the book, "Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea," a city in Virginia, Herndon, was named after the captain who piloted the boat. So what's the status of the gentleman who led the effort to recover the gold? Last word (unless anyone heard differently) is he was in jail for the past six years for contempt, that is, refusing to speak about the whereabouts of a sizeable amount of the gold treasures investors claim he has knowledge of.  [Source: "CoinWorld," October 11, 2022.]

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For the S.S. Central America, Wikipedia mentions that it flew its flag upside down to signal its distress.

One factual account of this seems to exist by "narrative license," deduced from testimony of the only surviving officer, James M. Frazer:

“At about 12 o’clock at noon on Saturday a vessel hove in sight, which afterwards proved to be the brig Marine of Boston.  We had had a signal of distress flying from daylight that morning, and the brig approached us, and passing round our stern, rounded to under our lee at about 2 o’clock P. M., or a little thereafter.”  ~ deponent James M. Frazer, 2nd officer; Published: New York Times, September 23, 1857.

Traditional maritime distress signaling had been to fly a flag upside down, one method among several available for signaling distress, i.e. blinking of lights, colors of lights used, distress-light arraying.

The ship was in distress, flags get flown, from daylight that morning…

Good enough for me.

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I have come across some additional interesting facts related to this tragedy...

There is another Herndon, this one in PA.;  Captain Herndon's daughter married the future President Chester A. Arthur; and the bell from the ship was donated to the U.S. Naval Academy just a few months ago this year!

One of the more fascinating stories I read as recounted in Gary Kinder's book, "Ship of Gold...," was an account of two passengers in the ocean at the height of the hurricane and one, realizing he was not going to make it, passing "a silver cup" to the other with instructions he deliver it, if at all possible, to someone in the Northeast.  That man, not only survived, but saw to it the dying man's wishes were honored and the cup today resides in a museum.  [My recollection was refreshed with presentation of the "hoard" for sale, but no longer possessing the book, I do not recall the details. However, I do recall the survivor was Black and wondered whether, having landed presumably in a Southern state----the ship went down off the coast of South Carolina, he may have encountered any difficulties in traversing to a Northern state (with gold of his own and a silver cup). Riveting story with no parallel I can think of!]

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Kind of off topic, but years back in the 60's and 70's, my Dad and Mom traveled Florida in a motorhome quite extensively.

He met a guy that said he was getting investors for his treasure hunt and wanted dad to invest $10,000 in his venture.

Dad turned him down.

Later Dad read an article about him, and the shipwreck he found.....The Atocia

Yep, Dad met and turned down Mel Fisher. (shrug)



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Has Q.A., in his infinite wisdom, ever rejected a post for being Off-Topic?  :roflmao:

Re Mel Fisher.  One could argue the gentleman your father met was Mel Fisher, before he became "MEL FISHER" of Atocha fame.

It could have went either way. The Ship of Gold guy, Thompson has been sitting in jail now for over six years for refusing to tell those who invested in his S.S. CENTRAL AMERICA misadventure where their share of the treasure is.

Your parents wouldn't've been tooling around the Sunshine State if they weren't prudent in their approach to investing.  It could have went either way.

Edited by Quintus Arrius
Usual die-polishing.
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