S.S. Central America Time Line
The S.S. Central America carried the most talked about treasure in
American history. A book about the ship and its fabulous cargo, Ship of Gold,
In The Deep Blue Sea, by Gary Kinder (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1998) was on the
New York Times Best Seller List, and Warner Brothers has purchased the rights
to produce a major motion picture. Tommy Thompson, who organized the expedition
to locate the sunken steamship and recover the cargo, wrote a
critically-acclaimed book, Americas Lost Treasure (Atlantic Monthly
For the first time, individuals now can own treasure
from the Central America extraordinary Gold Rush history you can hold in
Here is a brief recap of the S.S. Central America story.
October 28, 1852: Operated by the United States Mail
Steamship Company, the legendary S.S. Central America is launched. Originally
named, S.S. George Law, it was a three-masted, 272-feet long sidewheel
steamship that made 43 round trips between New York City and Panama. Each leg
of the voyage usually took between 19 to 24 days to complete.
1852 to1857: The Central America transported an estimated one-third
of the entire California Gold Rush output. That one-third was valued at the
time at approximately $150 million.
1857: The Central America left Aspinwall (now Colón), Panama carrying
476 passengers, 102 crew members and over three tons of gold.
precious cargo included approximately 5,200 recently-minted $20- denomination
("Double Eagle") gold pieces produced in 1857 at the San Francisco Mint. The
gold for these coins was mined during the California Gold Rush. There also was
a much smaller quantity of other historic gold coins that circulated in the
Wild West. (These will be released later for purchase by individuals).
The cargo also contained privately-made gold coins and ingots produced by
such historic, government-supervised San Francisco Gold Rush-era assayers as
Blake & Co.; Kellogg & Humbert; Wass Molitor & Co.; Harris,
Marchand & Co.; and Justh & Hunter.
The largest ingot
recovered is an astonishing gold brick that weighs 933 ounces, nearly 80
pounds, made by assayers Kellogg & Humbert.
Friday, September 11, 1857: In the second day of a hurricane the
ship sprang a leak at 9 a.m. Passengers were ordered to assist the crew in
bailing. The ship sank at about 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 12, about 160
miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, drowning a total of 426 passengers
and crew, including Captain William Lewis Herndon.
Unable to meet
payrolls or pay creditors because of the loss of the gold cargo, New York banks
began to fail and stores and factories began to close, touching off a financial
crash in the United States and Europe. It was "The Panic of 1857."
1985: An ocean engineer with Battelle Memorial Institute in
Columbus, Ohio, Thomas G. Thompson, founded the Columbus-America Discovery
Group to research and locate the Central America shipwreck. The 161 investors
raised more than $10 million.
1986: The group, based in landlocked Columbus, began exploring
1,400 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean and located the ships bell in
8,500 feet of water.
After successfully using state-of-the art technology to recover the
treasure and other important artifacts, the Columbus-America Discovery Group
began a decade of litigation to retain the historic find. Eventually, courts
awarded approximately 92 percent of the treasure to the Columbus group with the
remainder awarded to insurance companies. ·
July 1998: A
casual conversation at a country club (Big Canyon C.C., Newport Beach,
California) sets the stage for the worlds largest numismatic transaction.
Rare coin dealer Larry Goldberg of Beverly Hills, told coin
expert-turned-sports agent, Dwight Manley, that the Columbus group wanted to
sell intact its portion of the treasure.
July 1998 - January 2000: Intrigued and determined to "do the
deal," Manley, now Managing Partner of California Gold Group, Newport Beach,
then undertook nearly two years of complex negotiations with Columbus-America
Discovery Group, Union Bank of California and Christies auction house to
acquire the $100+ million worth of historic gold coins and bars. He earlier
obtained a $70 million contract for Utah Jazz basketball star Karl Malone, but
now declares the treasure project involved the biggest and most complicated
negotiations hes ever undertaken. Manley accomplished what no else could
January 2000 - present: The
coins are being certified by Collectors Universe Professional Coin Grading
Service (NASDAQ: CLCT), the worlds largest rare coin authentication
company. Each coin is sonically sealed in a protective holder, then placed
inside a custom-made leather bound book.
For future academic study,
some historic gold coins from the S.S. Central America will be donated by
Manley to the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; the New York Historical
Society, New York City; the San Francisco Historical Society, San Francisco;
and the American Numismatic Association Money Museum, Colorado Springs,
February 10 - 13, 2000: The
first public exhibit of this previously unseen treasure is scheduled at the
Long Beach, California Convention Center (100 S. Pine Ave.) in conjunction with
the Long Beach Coin & Collectibles Expo. Future Long Beach exhibits also
are planned, June 8 - 11 and October 5 -8, and in Philadelphia at the
Pennsylvania Convention Center (1201 Arch St.), August 9 - 13, in conjunction
with the American Numismatic Associations Worlds Fair of
Money®. (Public exhibits elsewhere also may be planned.)
March 1, 2000: For the first time in history, individuals will be able
to purchase historic gold coins from the S.S. Central America treasure (www.SSCentralAmerica.com). They will be sold by the
largest, best-known numismatic dealership in the country:
Sources for Details....