May 2019 Treasure of the Month

MayTOMwhite

Our Treasure of the Month for May is an authentic Spanish eight reales coin from the colonial mint at Mexico City encased in a block of Lucite. Weighing in at 131.25 grams, our treasure is 3” x 2” x 1” and is totally cocooned in hard, clear plastic, embossed near the top of one side with the words:

AUTHENTIC PIECE OF/ EIGHT RECOVERED BY/REAL EIGHT INC FROM/THE SPANISH FLEET/WRECKED OFF THE COAST/OF FLORIDA IN 1715

The genesis of this item is unknown, although we have good circumstantial evidence as to its origin. It was obviously intended as a paperweight or a small display item and made for the tourist trade. We suspect that this object was sold at the Real Eight Museum of Sunken Treasure which opened in June, 1968 at Cape Canaveral. This museum was actually the second museum opened by the Real Eight Company. On May 1, 1965 the original museum called the Museum of Spanish Treasure was opened on highway A1A next to the First National Bank of Satellite Beach about 35 miles north of Sebastian, Florida. The museum was later moved to a much larger facility in Cape Canaveral. This museum displayed many of the gold and silver coins, jewelry, priceless Chinese porcelain and other artifacts recovered by the Company. The museum also had a gift shop where visitors were able to buy replicas of treasure coins and jewelry. We believe that our featured item was part of the inventory of objects sold at this museum. Although not a replica, as the coin encapsulated in the Lucite is authentic, it is our belief that it most likely was sold at the Cape Canaveral facility.  Information obtained from Fleet Society member Frank Noga confirms that the museum sold other items that were encased in Lucite. So, although not 100% sure, we are satisfied with our conclusion.

For more information and other images of our little treasure, visit Sedwickcoins.com and access Sedwick Auction 22 from November 2, 2017, lot number 398, where it was featured. To see other items marketed by the Real Eight Company, see our Treasure of the Month for March, 2015 and December, 2016.

Our thanks to Dan Sedwick (Fleet Society Member #2) and Frank Noga (Fleet Society Member #1), who supplied information for this text.

Ben Costello

Ben Costello is a director of the 1715 Fleet Society and an attorney in Washington, PA.

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