BOLIVIA 8 REALES ATOCHA 1622 SHIPWRECK LOOT GRADE 2 PIRATE GOLD COINS TREASURE
Bolivia 8 Reales 1598-1621 Philip III "Atocha 1622 Shipwreck" Grade 2 Weight 22.6 grams
“Our Lady of Atocha,” sank in 1622 off the Florida Keys, Havana bound for Spain. Her galleon filled with all the treasure: gold, silver, copper, tobacco, gems, and jewelry. She never made it out of Veracruz to Havana – to join the fleet of the Tierra Firme (Mainland) Fleet. Her treasure was so enormous that it took 2 months to load the galleon full (in the summer of 1622 in what is now Panama City). She set sail 6 weeks behind schedule on September 4th, 1622.
Only two days later on the 6th, she was pushed onto the coral reefs by a severe Hurricane (Approx. 35 miles west of “Key West.”) All but 3 sailors and two slaves drowned as her hull was ripped apart. Authorities in Spain dispatched five more ships after receiving the news from other surviving ships in efforts to salvage both the Atocha and her sister ship the Santa Margarita,” which had also run aground near the Atocha. Due to the galleons sitting in 55’ of ocean and yet a second hurricane hitting (further scattering the treasure), the following month salvage efforts were severely hindered.
With the help of Indian slaves, over the course of many years, almost half the treasure was recovered from the Santa Margarita. This was mainly accomplished, crudely enough, by sending slaves down in a brass makeshift diving bell (with a window on the side). Many of these efforts ended in death. Spain’s shipwrecked treasure caused nothing short of devastation to their finances, which were in dire need of funds due to their 30 year war. This forced them to borrow money and sell of galleons to raise the much needed funds.
Although the Spanish recovery efforts were somewhat successful over 10 years, they never did find the “Atocha!” Finally, after 16.5 years of searching she was finally discovered in 1985 by Mel Fisher (Treasure Salvors), producing her gold and rare Muzo emeralds. Most of the gold and silver coins were minted between 1598 to 1621 (there were also earlier dates, even as far back as the early 1500’s on board). Treasure is still being brought up to this day. Recently, in June 2011 an emerald and gold ring was brought up by treasure divers from Mel Fisher’s crew that was valued at over $1,200,000 (35 miles from Key West).