Rare treasures from the Gold Rush-era shipwreck SS Central America called the Ship of Gold have been sold at auction, including a 32-ounce bar that fetched $138,000.
A haunting portrait of a young lady was found in the remains of the ship that sank off the coast of South Carolina in 1857 due to a hurricane.
The 19th century daguerreotype metal plate photograph, made using the first publicly available photographic process, sold for $73,200. It stands out for its excellent resolution.
The science mission recovery team nicknamed the woman “Mona Lisa of the Deep,” after retrieving the photo from the seafloor in 2014 amid a scattered pile of coal from the ship. There are no records of her identity.
The two-day auction on March 4 and 5 was held in Reno, Nevada, as well as online, by Holabird Western Americana Collections, with 422 lots.
A haunting portrait of a young lady was sold at the auction. It is a 19th century daguerreotype metal plate photograph, the first publicly available photographic process. The item sold for $73,200
A 32.15-ounce Kellogg & Humbert assayer’s California Gold Rush bar was also sold (pictured left), fetching $138,000. A large 18 carat California Gold Rush gold quartz engraved brooch (pictured right) sold for $49,200
Other items sold included a large 18 carat gold quartz engraved brooch, which fetched $49,200. San Francisco businessman Sam Brannan sent it to his son in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1857 as a gift to the son’s teacher.
A 32.15-ounce Kellogg & Humbert assayer’s California Gold Rush bar fetched $138,000, while a saloon board from the ship netted a winning bid of $13,200.
Fred Holabird, president of Holabird Western Americana Collections, said, “We had about 7,000 registered bidders, including some from Canada, Europe and South America.
Many collectors have been waiting for these extraordinary items to hit the market ever since the legendary submerged ship was located in 1988 and Life magazine proclaimed it America’s greatest treasure ever found.
“This was an incredible time capsule from the California Gold Rush era.”
The SS Central America sank off the coast of South Carolina in 1857 as a result of a hurricane
A saloon board of the ship produced a winning bid of $13,200
Pictured is a painting of the legendary Ship of Gold
The 280-foot sidewheel steamship was carrying 21 tons of gold bars, freshly minted gold coins and raw gold from the California mines when it sank, as well as the personal wealth and belongings of its passengers, 425 of whom died.
The shipwreck was first located in 1988 and there were missions to recover the sunken wealth over the following years.
The steamship from Central America sailed between Panama and New York, carrying prospectors and their fortunes made in the California Gold Rush.
On its last voyage, it carried tons of commercial gold worth about $93,000 in 1857 and passenger gold worth $1.2 million, estimated by court experts.
Historians say the ship’s sinking triggered a New York banking panic that was part of a larger American financial crisis known as the Panic of 1857.
Holabird said: ‘Insurance claims for the loss were paid in the 1850s and the company that discovered and recovered the treasure from 1988 settled with the insurers and their successors in 1998.
“With court approval, California Gold Marketing Group subsequently acquired clear ownership of all of those remaining treasures, as well as all recovered items in 2014.”
This was the second and final auction of never-before-seen artifacts from the SS Central America.
The first auction of 270 other items in December generated nearly $1 million in winning bids, including $114,000 for the oldest known heavy miner’s work pants — or jeans — that may have been made by or for the Levi Strauss Company.
The 165-year-old California jeans from the God Rush era were made in the 1850s.
The jeans are the oldest known miners’ heavy-duty jeans found to date and were the culmination of the first auction, where a bidder paid $114,000
Pictured is the wax seal still in the lid, which sold for $99,600 at the first auction
The lid of the oldest known Wells Fargo shipping box of treasures was seen at the first auction and appears to have survived the watery grave beneath the Atlantic Ocean
The miner’s work pants have a five-button fly and are covered in black and brown stains from the briefcase he was found in when a rouge captain discovered the wreck of the SS Central America at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
More than 7,500 bidders from around the world flocked to the Nevada auction house to compete for jewelry, early Brooks Brothers undershirts and the lid of the oldest known Wells Fargo shipping box of treasures, among other items recovered from the wreckage. fetched.
Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group, contributor of the recovered artifacts, said in a statement: “Those miner jeans are like the first flag on the moon, a historic moment in history.
“We can date them precisely because we know that Central America sank in a hurricane in the Atlantic on September 12, 1857. There are no earlier five-button fly jeans.”
There is disagreement over whether the expensive pants have ties to the father of modern jeans, Levi Strauss, as they predated the first pair officially manufactured by his San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. by 16 years. in 1873.
Some experts point to historical evidence suggesting ties to Strauss, a wealthy dry goods wholesaler at the time, and the pants could be a very early version of what would become the iconic pair of jeans.
But the company’s historian and director of records, Tracey Panek, says any claims about their origins are “speculation.”
“The pants are not from Levi’s and I don’t believe they are miners’ work plans,” she wrote in an email to The Associated Press.