If you have ever had the dream of suddenly finding a loose coin on the ground in a night vision, then finding another then another, and on and on, you have some idea of what Captain Greg Bounds of the salvage ship Capitana felt when they found 48 gold coins from the ocean’s floor some 200 feet off Florida’s east coast.
The gold coins are thought to be 1, 2 and 8 Escudos minted in Mexico, Lima, Peru and Bogota, Colombia. The 1 Escudos weigh around 3.3 grams. The 2 Escudos weigh between 6.6 and 6.9 grams and the 8 Escudos weigh between 26.8 and 27.1 grams.
The Escudo is a measure of money used in Spain, Portugal and in their colonies in South America, Asia and Africa, and is still used in Cape Verde today. Escudo is the Portuguese and Spanish word for “Shield”.
The owner of the company “1715 Fleet Queen’s Jewels,” Brent Bisbane, also owns the salvage rights to the shipwrecks, an area on Florida’s east coast, south of Melbourne to a point south of Fort Pierce. Mr. Bisbane said “Eleven Spanish galleons, loaded with treasure, were sunk along the coastline out here by a hurricane (in 1715), that’s what gives us the Treasure Coast.”
The 1715 fleet was a Spanish convoy of twelve ships bound for Spain from Havana loaded with a treasure of gold and silver. On Wednesday July 31, 1715, a disastrous hurricane doomed eleven of the fleet’s ships to the bottom of the sea. Over 700 lives were lost as well as millions of dollars in gold and silver cobs, ingots, and other treasure.
Because the fleet was carrying silver, it is also known as the 1715 Plate Fleet (plata being the Spanish word for silver plate). Some artifacts and even coins still wash up on Florida beaches from time to time.
Many ships, including privateers and pirates, had a hand in trying to reclaim the lost treasure. Initially a privateer, Henry Jennings was first accused of piracy for attacking the salvage ships and commandeering their salvaged loot. He is one of very few pirates who, in the end, is said to have enjoyed a successful retirement.
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