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March 2023 – Treasure of the Month

Our Treasure of the Month for March is a silver eight reales with an interesting provenance. This coin was part of a hoard popularly known as the “Bulldozer Hoard” or the “Bulldozer Bonanza.” The story behind this coin goes like this. In the mid-1970s, lifelong Florida resident and coin hunter John Durham was upset. He was lamenting the fact that one of his favorite childhood spots was being excavated for a new commercial development not far from the Indian River. Trying to make the best of an unhappy situation, he decided to walk behind a bulldozer that was working its way across the property. It was his hope that he might find some turn-of-the-century coins unearthed in the bulldozer’s wake.

To his great surprise, he spotted a coin on top of the ground, and he quickly identified it as a Spanish piece of eight. Realizing that he had accidentally stumbled upon a possible hoard of coins, he quickly headed home to retrieve his metal detector. When he returned, he found a few more scattered pieces of eight. Following a very strong signal from the detector, he dug down into a hole, which produced ten to twelve coins. He continued digging and found more. Then more still.

The coins were in remarkably good condition. This is likely because they were not subjected to the harsh conditions presented by saltwater immersion. Most of the coins were from 1713–1715, which associated them with the 1715 Fleet. In the end he recovered about two hundred Spanish pieces of eight. How they ended up there was a mystery. Durham surmised that the coins had been transported there in a bag, as one coin had evidence of fabric and thread attached to it.

Our featured treasure shows evidence of burial but is largely solid and without significant corrosion.

Obverse of featured coin (left image) and Reverse (right image).

Other coins found on the site (and cleaned, as seen below) show good detail and are almost full weight.

Small group of “Bulldozer Hoard” coins, obverse side (left image) and reverse side (right image).

Images of featured treasure courtesy of Rick Beleson (member # 51).

1 thought on “March 2023 – Treasure of the Month”

  1. Hi Ben,

    Cool treasure of the month story! As long as I can remember, it’s been thought that the coins found from the “Bulldozer Bonanza” or “hoard” most likely had originated from the 1715 fleet. Years ago I had gotten a Mexico 4 reales from this hoard that dates from 1724-1733 based on the style of the shield. Unsure how that one was in the mix? But I’ve got it!

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