NCS Conserves Coins Recovered from the Steamship New York Posted on 5/13/2008
Coins certified by NGC with pedigree SS New York.
FL] Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS) has been
selected to conserve the coins recovered from the SS New York
shipwreck. The coins comprise a diverse cross section of coins
in circulation at the first part of the 19th Century, including
an important group of exceptional quality southern mint gold
coins. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) has been chosen
to certify the coins following their conservation.
The SS New York operated a light cargo and passenger service
between New Orleans and Galveston including military and post
office contract passage until it foundered during a hurricane
on September 7, 1846. Seventeen of the 53 crew and passengers
were lost, along with "thirty to forty thousand dollars
in gold, silver, and bank notes," according to contemporary
reports. The ship was first discovered in 1990 by an amateur
diver and Louisiana oilfield worker who relied on reports
of snags from local shrimp fisherman to pinpoint the wreck.
After completion of archeological survey conducted by the
Minerals Management Service, and gaining legal title to the
wreck, the original discoverers returned to recover the ships
coins in 2006.
While primarily "treasure seekers," they were also
concerned about the historic value and preservation of the
artifacts they salvaged. "We chose NCS to handle the
post-recovery process because of their unique capabilities
and expertise in working with shipwreck coins. Their process
maintains the historical pedigree that was important to us
and also renders the most beautiful artifacts," comments
Craig DeRouen of the recovery operation. NCS also conserved
all coins recovered from the historic shipwreck SS Republic.
"Together NCS and NGC offer the only professional services
to conserve shipwreck coins and then certify them, preserving
the integrity and history of these coins. The coins from the
SS New York demonstrate this with their wonderful quality
and rich diversity, both markers of their considerable importance,"
relates NGC Chairman Mark Salzberg, who oversaw the certification
of the coins from the SS New York.
Hills, NJ coin dealer John Albanese appraised these coins
for the recovery group, and notes, "The coins are worth
more than a million dollars, and many of them look like they
were just minted yesterday." Among the valuable highlights
are extraordinarily well preserved gold coins from mints in
Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina, such as an 1845-D $2.5
NGC MS64, 1844-D $5 NGC MS63 PL, and 1844-O $5 NGC MS64.
The coins are indeed diverse. In addition to the trove of
high grade southern mint issues, there were a number of foreign
coins found, including a rare mintmark 1816PN FR Colombia
8 escudos graded NGC AU58 and an extensive run of German 10
thalers. A number of silver coins were recovered as well,
including the first and only US silver dollar found on a shipwreck,
a 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar, and a scarce 1815/2 Capped Bust
Half Dollar. A rare C. Bechtler $5 pioneer gold coin was also
recovered. The diversity of coinage speaks to the sophistication
of southern merchants during the mid-1800s, who conducted
transactions using a startling range of gold and silver pieces
struck around the world and spanning several decades.
conservation, coins were submitted to NGC for certification
and were encapsulated with a decorative label and the pedigree
SS NEW YORK. The NGC holder has been designed for long-term
preservation and is identical in composition to the holder
developed by NGC and NCS for the Smithsonian Institution,
which conducted extensive tests before using it to house its
most valuable holdings.