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May 2023 Treasure of the Month

Our Treasure of the Month for May is a continuation of our enchantment with encrusted objects (or EO’s) and coin clumps (officially known as “aggregates”).  Our featured treasure this month is a clump of approximately twenty five silver eight and four reales reportedly recovered in the dunes opposite the site of the Cabin Wreck located just south of the Sebastian Inlet. Partially cleaned with some dates showing this clump measures 4.5” long by 3.0” wide. The coins are solidly packed and largely uncorroded with green and tan ocean deposits acting as a cement binding this group of coins together.


Clumps first became widely reported when they were found by members of the Real Eight Company in January, 1961 at the Cabin Wreck site. It was determined that these clumps were the coins that were put in canvas or clothe bags and placed into a wooden treasure chest (See our Treasure of the Month for June 2018 which features a recovered treasure chest). Best evidence indicates that each chest held three bags of coins. Depending on the size of the chest each bag could contain between 500 and 1500 coins. Over time the wooden treasure chest and the bags containing the coins would deteriorate. By that time the action of seawater on the silver together with sand and ocean deposits caused the coins to be fused together in a conglomerate of cement-like composition. When they were found by Real Eight Company divers they appeared to be rock-like formations. Upon closer inspection it was clear that these were large “clumps” of fused together coins. Divers who recovered the clumps reported that one clump alone weighed 77 pounds and contained 1500 to 2000 coins. While coin clumps were not unheard of and had been found on other non-Fleet related shipwrecks in the past, nothing approached the size and immensity of these clumps. These were undoubtedly something special.  

For more articles on our featured coin clump and others see Maritimes, The Quarterly Newsletter of the Maritime Archaeological Research Institute Volume 20, Number 2 Spring 2022 and Volume 20, Number 3 Summer 2022  published by Archaeologist Robert Westrick. Also, see our Treasure of the Month for February 2012, February 2015, October 2015, April 2018, May 2020, and March 2021.

Special thanks to Sean Rich of Tortuga Trading Company for providing images of May’s treasure.

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