Finding sunken treasure is everybody’s childhood dream. So it’s always a pleasure when you discover such riches coming up for auction as the shipwrecked emeralds of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a galleon that sank off the coast of Florida in 1622.
The Atocha is one of the most famous shipwrecks in history for losing a treasure of immense wealth. Hauling this bounty across the Gulf Straits, the ship ran into trouble during a hurricane and suffered serious damage, sinking instantly and losing 24 tons of treasure that remained undiscovered for almost 400 years.
It was one of two ships lost off the coast of Florida and it cost Spain severe financial setback. It wasn’t until 1985 that the treasure was found by a team of divers led by Mel Fisher and Finley Ricard that the true value of these riches came to light.
At the helm of this 400-year-old shipwreck is a glorious emerald weighing in at 887 carats called, La Gloria. Said to be the largest emerald in the U.S., this magnificent gem is part of the Marcial de Gomar Collection. La Gloria is estimated to fetch $4 to $5 million at auction and is just one of more than 20 rough and cut emeralds and 13 emerald jewellery pieces. The auction house, Guernsey’s in New York, hopes the new owner of La Gloria will retain its natural state and house it in a museum for all the world to enjoy, because it is a natural wonder.
Other bounty from the same Atocha wreck included gold, copper and silver like this 1045 Troy Ounce or 32500 Gram Silver Bar owned by King Phillip IV of Spain. One of the largest bars to be recovered from the shipwreck, it is a museum quality piece, an incredible artefact from Maritime history, complete with provenance and cartouches, assayer's bite and markings. Milestone Auctions in Ohio sold the precious silver bar for $36,600.00.
Homerun in Norway
Of all the places to find buried treasure, Norway wouldn’t spring to mind, especially if you’re talking baseball. But somewhere in a storage unit in an apartment building in Trondheim, Norway, a rare collection of baseball memorabilia from the 1920s was found by the son of the now deceased building’s owner. The gem of this discovery was a D&M Babe Ruth baseball glove that fetched $11,600 at auction on eBay. So far the collection has made almost $22,000 and showcases some extremely rare and high quality items, like the inflatable chest protector invented in 1887.
Rare Finds at Home
If you’ve discovered some treasure or valuables you’re not sure about, it’s always a good idea to consult a professional to assess their value. Take these adorable bookends from Rockwood pottery, Cincinatti, for example. Discovered in a relative’s house when clearing out some items, the owner consulted antique experts at the NJ Herald to ascertain their worth. Turns out, these are a rare, 1937 example of Rockwood’s earlier work from famous artist Kataro Shirayamadani, and could fetch up to $3,000 at auction. Not bad for an unassuming pair of bookends.
Another treasure trove secreted away in a vault of the Horological Society of New York is an impressive collection of vintage watches that were bequeathed to the society 40 years ago. There are five timepieces in the collection, including this Patek Philippe Ref. 3514 18k Gold Automatic Wristwatch, valued at $9,000. All proceeds from the Heritage auction will help to raise funds for HSNY.
Finally, an incredible discovery aired on the Antiques Roadshow is a 17th century notebook on Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies. The notebook is filled with tiny writing of a student of the great bard and the notes offer immense scholarly value on the playwright and his plays. Valued at £30,000, the notebook left antiques expert, Matthew Haley, trembling and almost speechless at the discovery.