Stories of shipwrecks and treasure lost at sea have held an enduring grip on the public for years. Shipwrecks have occurred in a number of different ways, from treacherous weather, to piracy, to torpedoes during wartime. Although the prospect of sunken treasure or silver is a promising lead, there are relatively few instances of discovered coins being used for currency or investment. Here are a few notable examples of valuable coins discovered from sunken ships.
SS City of Cairo
The SS City of Cairo was a British passenger steamship that was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat on its way back to England in 1942. The SS City of Cairo carried 296 civilians and 100 tons of Silver. The sunken vessel was not discovered until 2011. The 100 tons of Silver equate today to approximately $50 million.
The SS Gairsoppa was a British steam merchant ship that was also sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland in 1941. The SS Gairsoppa was carrying more than 1,200 bars of silver, amounting to what is worth $37 million today.
Sao Jose Shipwreck
The Sao Jose was a Portuguese slave ship that was sunk in 1794 off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. The boat ran into submerged rocks about 100 meters from shore. The captain and crew were rescued, but hundreds of the slaves drowned. The ship also carried nine chests which contained thousands of silver coins. The boat was not discovered until the 1980s.