On behalf of the Directors of the 1715 Fleet Society, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our readers and loyal fans and members for a wonderful year celebrating the legacy of the 1715 Fleet!
It always amazes me that although the fleet sunk off the coast of Florida more than 300 years ago, there is much interest in its story (and its treasures) from people around the world, young and old. That’s probably why we added several new enthusiasts this year to our ever-growing role of fleet members.
In 2017, we published our first book, Treasures of a Lost Fleet, which we sold out just a few days after making it available.
We published a series of articles exploring the Orr Collection, a group of documents detailing the story of Dr. Will W. Orr and his friendship with Kip Wagner (1906 – 1972) was instrumental in the formation of the team that later became the Real Eight Company and one of the greatest salvage groups that ever explored the 1715 Fleet wrecks. He .... Dr. Orr was President of Westminster College (located in New Wilmington, PA) from 1949-1967. In the mid 60’s he became acquainted with Kip Wagner (1906 – 1972) was instrumental in the formation of the team that later became the Real Eight Company and one of the greatest salvage groups that ever explored the 1715 Fleet wrecks. He ... and their friendship was fueled by a mutual interest in treasure. Dr. Orr admired Kip Wagner’s hard work and dedication. This admiration led to Kip being awarded an honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Westminster College in October 1966. If you haven’t seen the collection yet you should read it now – it’s a great piece of living history.
Perhaps our biggest success of the year was the 2nd International Conference held in St. Augustine, Florida in April 2017. We had great attendance and participation in the weekend’s events, and we came away with some great memories and fantastic images. You can see them all in our wrap up posts here:
- International Conference Welcoming Wrap Up
- International Conference Day 1 Wrap Up
- International Conference Day 2 Wrap Up
- International Conference Day 3 Wrap Up
Our website has also performed well. Each year, we bring the treasures of the 1715 Fleet to more and more readers online, and 2017 was no exception. We had more than 8,000 unique users visit our site, with more than 6,000 of them being first-time viewers. Combined, our readers viewed nearly 40,000 pages on our site throughout the year. Amazing!
One of our goals for 2017 was to continue adding quality images and content that looked great not only on desktop devices but also on mobile devices and tablets. Obviously, the bigger the screen the better the images look, but with so many people browsing the web on smartphones we wanted to make sure the site was accessible as possible. Each year, our mobile viewership increases, and this is another way we’re making the site sustainable for future generations of Fleet enthusiasts.
We’ve also increased the number of articles and images on the web such that our site is consistently and prominently displayed when anyone around the world searches for terms related to the 1715 Fleet! Our most popular page has been our home page, and a very close second is our accessible archive page which lists all the newsletter posts, treasures of the month, documents, articles, and so much more.
One of the more interesting additions of 2017 came to the Florida State Collection of Spanish Colonial Gold Cobs, a group of more than 1,500 coins originally published in 2016. You might not immediately recognize the changes we made, but it will be powering stories on this site for years to come. We added a section called “Coins of Special Significance” where we highlight individual coins that have a special story and tell that story in its own post. You’ll notice these coins of special significance denoted with a gold ribbon around the image, as shown in the picture below.
You can also click that image below to be taken to the page where these special coin ribbons can be found.
Thank you again for such a memorable year. We look forward to bringing you more history, more high definition images, and more coins of special significance in 2018.
Director, 1715 Fleet Society