A contemporary account of the SS Central America Disaster

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by TypeCoin971793, Mar 21, 2017.

  1. I just bought this illustrated newspaper because it has one of the best contemporary accounts of the sinking of the SS Central America, along with some fantastic illustrations. If you find an article about this wreck and see some egravings of the ship and the wreck, they more than likely came from this issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. There was so much information and drama about this disaster that they actually devoted three issues to it: October 3, October 10, and October 17, 1857. I have the Oct 17, and this one is the Oct 3. I am still looking for the Oct 10 issue. They are not easy to find.

    I have been looking for one of these for about four years now, ever since I bought one and the seller lost it in the mail.

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  3. jtlee321

    jtlee321 Well-Known Member Supporter

    That is very cool!! You've opened my eye's to other venues of collecting. Thank you.
    TypeCoin971793 likes this.
  4. doug444

    doug444 STAMPS and POSTCARDS too!

    As you may recall, Tommy Thompson worked at Battelle Labs in Columbus, Ohio. I was a Columbus Realtor, working for Donahue Realtors, now defunct. I was his Realtor at the time he was finishing up the deep-water technology. He and his wife and two darling little boys lived in a big old house on Neil Avenue just south of the OSU campus, where he had a short bike ride to work.

    They had bought a small grocery to serve residents of that area, known as Victorian Village, but the store was losing money, so I listed the property for sale, including inventory. No takers. In the meantime, Tommy found out I knew coins pretty well, and hired me to secure San Francisco mint records of the 1850s to try to make an educated guess about what he might find.

    Eventually, I predicted he would find lots of San Francisco half eagles and double eagles of the 1850s, although neither denomination was struck until two years before the wreck, thus limiting the variety of dates significantly. I also predicted there would be some private and territorial gold, mostly Moffat. This proved to be correct.

    By that time, we had become good friends, much more than Realtor and client. I asked to invest in the venture, but he refused, stating that it was too risky for someone with such a small, intermittent, unreliable income (Realtors, he meant).

    In June, 1988, I moved from Columbus to Jacksonville, Florida, and never saw him again, although an eerie thing happened; my first day in Jacksonville, the newspaper published a front page story about him, speculating that his vessel might actually be operating out of the Jacksonville area, instead of Charleston SC, as widely-believed. A large photo showed a $20 gold piece laying on clean white sand on the bottom of the ocean.

    The last I heard, he was in jail in Delaware, Ohio, not ten miles from where I presently live. He is old and sick and alone, and refuses to divulge where the bulk of the treasure has been hidden. When I first met him 30+ years ago, he was a smart, personable, likable guy with a big dream. His wife and boys bailed out long ago, and their whereabouts presently unknown, at least to the Columbus newspapers.

    His boys would be about 40 now. I can't quite bring myself to visit him in jail, where the judge says he will remain until he talks. I "think" the only charge against him so far is obstruction of justice. What a tragedy.


    Here is Amazon's review of probably the best-known book about the recovery, "Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea," by Gary Kinder. I have not read it, and don't want to -- it's too painful.

    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
  5. BlackBeard_Thatch

    BlackBeard_Thatch Captain of the Queen Anne's Revenge

    Here is a great video of the first recovery effort of the SS Central America.

    Video of interview on The Tonight Show, showing off gold bars, gold dust, gold nugget and 50$ gold coins.

    It's sad that people don't know this historic ship wreck and the recovery of all the gold and coins(which is still going on), just the fact that the sinking of the ship contributed greatly to the panic of 1857 but sadly the discovery of the ship sadly ended in greed (gold fever I guess). Honestly the recovery in the 80s is amazing because they were able to recover some of this wreck with the crude technology they had back then, amazing.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
    TypeCoin971793 likes this.
  6. What a story. Thanks for sharing.
  7. Nathan401

    Nathan401 Working like crazy to pay for the lazy Supporter

    Thanks!! I love these shipwreck coins, and avidly collect them. I'm well aware that they are damaged coins. I pay the premium for the extra history I can hold in my hand!! Great story.
  8. You are welcome! I like newspapers because, unlike coins where you have to imagine the history that the coin saw, they explicitly tell you the history in which it was made, often to a much greater detail and more-interesting perspective than you normally read about.
  9. Here was the site I used when I first started out. You can get cheaper on eBay, but it is best to learn from a trusted dealer first.

  10. chascat

    chascat Well-Known Member

    I remember when these coins first went on the market...I should have bought a couple at a small fraction of current prices. I didn,t and am very sorry!
  11. Puckles

    Puckles Cat Whisperer

    That book is amazing. I can't rate it highly enough. Such a shame that Tommy turned mongrel.
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