News From September, 1964

Since retiring at the end of December 2020, I have had the opportunity to dig into all of the old archival records and documents that I acquired over the last 15 years. As a result, I have come across many interesting articles, records, letters and documents from the early days of salvaging the wreck sites of the 1715 Fleet. One such article was a news story reporting that treasure hunters in Florida coastal waters not only recovered Spanish gold and silver but also an unknown quantity of American gold coins in an area off the Atlantic coast near Fort Pierce. The story, reported in September 1964,  went on to say that divers found about 300 American gold coins which were thought to be from a Confederate ship. The coins were mostly $20.00 double eagles with a few smaller denominations. The coins were found in the same general area where the Real Eight Company had been operating for several years. However, the coins were not found by the Real Eight Company. Rather they were found by two young men while fishing for crawfish.

Well, we now know the full story behind these American coins recovered near Fort Pierce. The coins did not come from a Confederate ship as originally surmised. They were actually part of a U.S. payroll lost in 1857. How they ended up in the Atlantic Ocean, what became of them and how they were the center of a dispute between the finders and the State of Florida reads like a novel. The answer to these questions can be found in the article Untangling the Mystery of the “Seawater Uncs” authored by John M. Kleeberg (abridged and edited by Daniel Frank Sedwick) and found on the website of professional Numismatist Daniel Frank Sedwick.  Although “The Lost Payroll of Fort Capron” is not directly related to the 1715 Fleet, it is an interesting footnote to what was going on in September 1964 as the Real Eight Company made headlines with their discoveries.


Submitted by Ben Costello, Director


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