Hello all. As promised in a prior Newsletter post, what follows is a summary of the events of the 300th Anniversary Commemoration week, July 27 – 31, 2015.
For those of you who were fortunate enough to be there during that time you may find that this wrap up will, hopefully, bring back some pleasant memories of the events of that week. For those who could not make it, I hope that this will allow you to at least enjoy the pictures and live the moment vicariously.
If you would like to see the real thing, you may wish to contact David Lisot, Executive Producer for Coin Week. The Fleet Society hired David to record various events during Commemoration Week including the two-day Conference in Vero Beach, the Commemorative Banquet at Captain Hiram’s in Sebastian and the Time Capsule burial ceremony (yes, we actually buried a time capsule) which took place on July 31, 2015, the 300th Anniversary. There is more information about the time capsule burial later on in this newsletter post.
David is producing a number of DVD’s regarding Commemoration Week which will be available in the near future. For more information, you can reach David at email@example.com.
Monday July 27, 2015, 10:00 AM: Author Book Signing, Indian River County Main Library, Vero Beach, Florida
The first big event of Commemoration Week was the Author Book Signing at the Indian River County Main Library. This event was sponsored by the Library and was organized by Pam Cooper and her staff of dedicated volunteers. It was held in a large conference room that was decorated with a number of high quality posters depicting treasures recovered from the wrecks of the 1715 Fleet. Many authors showed up to sign and sell copies of their books that for the most part dealt with 1715 Fleet related issues. Among the authors in attendance were Dr, Eugene Lyon, Margaret Weller, Ernie Richards, Dr. Timothy Walton, Rob Westrick, Terry Armstrong, and Tammy Gross to name a few. The event was very well attended by many Fleet enthusiasts, who eagerly purchased signed copies of their favorite books.
On July 27, 2015, 1:00 PM: “Treasure Talks”, Mel Fisher Treasure Museum, Sebastian, Florida
This event sponsored by the Mel Fisher Treasure Museum featured lectures and a self-guided tour followed by a “Meet & Greet” reception. From 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm several speakers addressed a group of approximately 40 people. These speakers were Taffi Abt, Bill Moore and Brent Brisben. A short presentation about the 1715 Fleet Society was provided by yours truly.
Following these presentations those in attendance engaged in a self-guided tour of the museum and the wonderful displays featured there. Following this tour, a “Meet & Greet” reception followed. The “Meet & Greet” was designed to allow those in attendance to “rub elbows” so to speak with 1715 Fleet related luminaries. In addition to Taffi Abt and her daughter, Nichole, who helped organize the event, John Brandon, Margaret Weller, Bill Moore, Bonnie Schubert, and Ernie Richards were available to chat with the attendees. By all accounts, this first day of Commemoration Week was a huge success.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 9:45 AM: 300th Anniversary Conference on the 1715 Plate Fleet (day 1), Vero Beach Museum of Art, Leonhardt Auditorium, Vero Beach, Florida
Sponsored by the 1715 Fleet Society, this Conference included lectures on topics pertinent to the 1715 Fleet. The morning session included recent archival work on the 1715 Fleet. Dr. John de Bry spoke on new research regarding the French frigate Le Griffon and other Fleet related topics. Dr. de Bry was followed by Dr. Tim Walton, author of Spanish Treasure Fleets, whose lecture addressed the world in 1715: the political, economic and military context of the 1715 Fleet. His presentation ended the morning session and was followed by a catered lunch. The afternoon session included the Florida State Collection and other resources for Fleet studies. Our first afternoon speaker was Catherine Sincich, representative of the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research. She discussed the Florida State Collection and future plans for the development of that Collection.
She was followed by Jorge Proctor who addressed the audience on the subject of Mexican Assayers of the Fleet era and the Barefoot Carmelites (a religious order who owned the Mexican office of Assayer for 100 years). His presentation was followed by a roundtable discussion of Fleet archival research with Dr. Gene Lyon, Dr. John de Bry, Jorge Proctor, and Phil Flemming.
Approximately 75 people were in attendance. David Lisot of Coin Week filmed the entire event.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 12:00 PM: News Conference, Captain Hiram’s Inn & Resort, Sebastian, Florida
While day 1 of the Conference was underway in Vero Beach, another Conference of sorts was being held twelve miles up the road in Sebastian, Florida. At noon, reporters, cameramen and a very interested public in attendance waited to hear the details of a spectacular find of Spanish treasure which was announced to the public and displayed for the very first time.
Locked in a glass case, guarded by a number of well-armed policemen the case revealed what the excitement was all about. Nicely arranged were 53 gold coins and 40 feet of gold chains including a spectacular 1715 gold Royal which was named “The Tri-centennial Royal”. Found by the Schmitt family on June 17, 2015, this cache was locked in a vault until it was put on display at the news conference. Those addressing the attendees were Brent Brisben of 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels, LLC, members of the Schmitt family, including Eric Schmitt and Hillary Schmitt. It was Eric Schmitt who actually found the gold Royal that captured the attention of everyone in the room as he described what it was like to find this iconic coin.
Hillary Schmitt added a personal touch as she told the story of how this coin was found on her birthday (June 17th) and how she was quite sure that something spectacular was going to happen on that day. Below are pictures of the news conference including the display of gold coins.
Although quite nice the pictures do not do this event justice. One had to be there to feel the tension and excitement that electrified the room.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 9:45 AM: 300th Anniversary Conference on the 1715 Plate Fleet (day 2), Vero Beach Museum of Art, Leonhardt Auditorium, Vero Beach, Florida
Day 2 of the Conference began with the introduction of Mr. Bob Evans, Geologist, Historian and Curator who is best known for his work with the SS Central America, a California Gold Rush Era steamship that sank in 1857 carrying tons of gold coins, bars, nuggets and dust.
Bob talked about deep water exploration and new technology that proved to be very helpful in locating and salvaging 1715 Fleet wrecks. Mr. Evans was followed by Rob Westrick, an author and marine archaeologist who talked about ships of the 1715 Fleet.
Following his presentation, there was a catered lunch. The afternoon session started with Ernie Richards who talked about the coinage of the 1715 Fleet. Dan Sedwick discussed the impact on Spanish Colonial Numismatics of the 1715 Fleet. He was followed by a roundtable discussion with John Pullin. After that, I had the opportunity to interview Tommy Gore and Bill Diaz who were agents for the state of Florida in the 1960’s. They talked about early salvaging efforts, records keeping and also had some interesting stories to tell about their experiences in the early days of salvaging.
The afternoon session was concluded by John Brandon who entertained everyone with stories concerning his work on the 1715 Fleet. His presentation was followed by a video concluding the Conference. About 75 people attended the Conference. Day 2 of the Conference was also filmed by our videographer, David Lisot.
Following the Conference a Meet & Greet sponsored by the Treasure Coast Coin Club took place in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
Thursday, July 30, 2015, 9:00 AM: Indian River County Main Library Bus Tour with Margaret Weller
The tour included a visit to the Mel Fisher Treasure Museum, the McLarty Treasure Museum and a tour of the 1715 wreck sites followed by lunch at Captain Hiram’s Inn & Resort in Sebastian, Florida. The tour ended at approximately 4:00 pm, leaving sufficient time for those participating in the tour to freshen up and make it to the Commemorative Banquet.
Thursday, July 30, 2015, 5:30 PM: official 1715 Fleet Commemorative Banquet Held in the Tiffany Room of Captain Hiram’s Inn & Resort
Some 129 individuals attended the Commemorative Banquet. From 5:30 to 6:30 banquet goers had the opportunity to socialize and partake of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. At 6:30 guests were seated and welcomed to the Banquet. At 6:45 dinner was served which consisted of several entrees including a beef carving station. At 8:00 a short program began which included some opening remarks by Ernie Richards, Phil Flemming and myself.
A special welcome was then extended to family members of original Real Eight members who attended the Banquet. Jane Thompson, widow of Colonel Dan Thompson (1920 – 2005) Was a diver and original member of the Real Eight Company. Born in Savannah, Georgia, he was an electrical engineer and had a distinguished career in the U.S. Air Forc..., her daughter Gay Withers and her granddaughter, Jessalyn Withers, were in attendance.
Also in attendance was Helen Ullian, her daughter, Linda, her son, Mike and his wife, Chris. Helen is the widow of original Real Eight member, Louis J. (Lou) Ullian (1932 – 2010) Was a diver and original member of the Real Eight Company. A native of Worcester, Massachusetts he served in the U.S. Navy, Naval Weapons Station from 1956 – 19.... Also joining us was Rex Stocker a Real Eight member with his daughter, Julie. Special recognition was given to all of those individuals and companies that bought sponsorships (advertising) in our Banquet Program. Included were Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC, West Bay Trading Company, Mel Fisher Treasure Museum, Atlantic Marine & RV, Captain Hiram’s Inn & Resort, Big Blue Wreck Salvage, Indian River Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN) and Thomas Uram.
Following our sponsorship recognition Dan Sedwick of Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC presented a check for $1,300.00 to the Fleet Society as a donation to the Society from the sale of lot # 1560 in the auction of April 29 – 30, 2015. Initially, half of the proceeds of lot 1560 (which was a plaster sculpture of an enlargement of the obverse of a 1715 Fleet Mexico City, Mexico, cob 8-reale Royal, 1702 L) was to be donated to us by the company. However, Dan graciously agreed to provide us with the entire hammer price which was $1,300.00.
Also, at the Banquet, the 1715 Fleet Society Time Capsule was on display for the last time. The Time Capsule project was a joint effort between the Fleet Society and the Indian River Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Division. Tourism Director, Allison McNeal, spearheaded the project and made arrangements for the installation of the capsule at a burial site in Vero Beach.
A small journal was passed around to those in attendance so that they could sign the journal or write a note to some future Vero Beach historian who will open the Time Capsule on July 31, 2115, the 400th Anniversary of the loss of the 1715 Fleet. All those who helped sponsor the Banquet by advertising in our Banquet Program were given the opportunity to place something in the Time Capsule. Some of the items offered up included an auction catalog from the Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC Treasure Auction of April 29 – 30, 2015.
The Auction catalog was signed by Dan Sedwick and Augi Garcia. Steve Hodges of West Bay Trading Company created a special Certificate that was signed by him and his employees. Nichole Abt of the Mel Fisher Treasure Museum submitted a collection of coins, photographs, newspaper articles and other family memorabilia. Brent Brisben of 1715 Queens Jewels, LLC, made a special cameo appearance.
For the Time Capsule, he presented a Mexico eight silver reales along with a Certificate of Authenticity. Robin Miller, of Captain Hiram’s Inn & Resort presented a brightly painted rum bottle with notes in it from the staff of Captain Hiram’s Inn & Resort. The final object of the evening placed in the Time Capsule was the journal that was signed by a number of the guests at the Banquet.
This item was placed into the Time Capsule by Nicole Capp-Holbrook, Tourism Director, Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce as she was the last person to sign the journal. The Banquet concluded with a social hour that lasted until approximately 9:30. The whole event was captured on video by David Lisot of Coin Week and he interviewed a number of Banquet goers. Following are a number of pictures from some of those who attended the Banquet.
Friday, July 31, 2015: 10 AM Exhibit & Lectures at the Indian River County Main Library, Vero Beach
Exhibits and lectures and a special showing of an archival video featuring original Real 8 members were presented. Speakers included Captain Carl Fismer, Captain Bonnie Schubert and Captain John Brandon. Music was provided by Al Scortino.
Friday, July 31, 2015: 4:30 PM Time Capsule Burial Ceremony, Jaycee Park, Vero Beach
Sponsored by the 1715 Fleet Society and Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Division, a Time Capsule filled with papers, documents and Fleet Society Anniversary memorabilia, among other items, was dedicated for burial.
Oddly enough minutes before the ceremony the sky darkened, clouds rolled in and an ominous storm threatened. It was almost prophetic how this sudden weather pattern emerged at the exact time that we were about to dedicate a time capsule on the exact date of the destruction of the 1715 Fleet 300 years earlier.
The Mayor of Vero Beach and other elected officials along with interested citizens gathered around as we prepared to bury the capsule and hopefully beat the storm (which we fortunately did). The ceremony was captured on film by David Lisot who agreed to remain in town so that he could be there to memorialize this historic occasion. Below you will find a newspaper article and some photographs of the ceremonial event.
Friday, July 31, 2015: 5:00 PM “Meet & Greet” sponsored by the West Bay Trading Company, Vero Beach
This was the final “Meet & Greet” of Commemoration Week. The event was very well attended as people enjoyed snacks and a special Commemoration cake (see below). Many thanks to Steve & Linda Hodges and the West Bay Trading Company crew for their efforts in making this a success. Present at the “Meet & Greet” were Carl Fismer, Mike Brown, John Pullin, and a host of other local luminaries which can be seen in the pictures below.
Well, that concludes my wrap-up of the events of the 300th Commemoration, July 27 – 31, 2015. Coming up soon is a special post that I call “Commemoration Cameos”. This newsletter item will feature some of the people that I had an opportunity to meet and interview during my month long stay in Florida. I think you will like it. Stayed tune.