A Florida family recently recovered a million dollars worth of gold coins and jewels off the coast of Florida. The treasure, which includes a coin made specially for King Philip V of Spain, was recovered from an 18th-century Spanish galleon, part of the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet that sunk off the coast of Florida three centuries ago.
Florida Today reports that Brent Brisben, co-founder of 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels, LLC, the company which holds the diving rights where the coins were found, revealed that the Schmitt family actually found the treasure about a month ago, but the news was kept secret because the company wanted the announcement to coincide with the commemoration of the 300 years of sinking of the Spanish fleet on July 31.
The 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels, LLC is a salvage operation managed by Brent and his father William.
The Schmitts are treasure hunters and subcontractors for 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels, LLC. The family includes the couple Rick and Lisa, two children, and a daughter-in-law, according to RT.
The latest find by the family comes after they found about 49 feet (15 meters) of gold chain and other gold artefacts worth about $500,000 in September 2013, and a handcrafted gold filigree pyx in 2014.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, a “gold-filigree pyx” is a container used in the ritual of the Holy Communion to hold the Eucharist emblems.
Lisa’s son Eric, 27, made the latest find with the help of a metal detector. He found the treasure in shallow waters off Fort Pierce, Florida, at a depth of 4.5 meters (15 feet). The treasure recovered, according to Brisben, includes well-preserved 51 gold coins and 40 feet (12 meters) of ornate gold chain, all in an “excellent state preservation.”
The chain was “designed in the shape of tiny, handcrafted, two-sided, six-petalled flowers called ‘olive blossoms,’ used as tax-free coinage,” RT reports.
The treasure also includes a single rare gold coin of a variety known as a “Tricentennial Royal,” made for King Phillip V of Spain (1683-1746), and dated 1715.
According to Brisben, the “incredibly rare and incredibly valuable ” coin, worth $500,000, was a “presentation piece not meant to be circulated as currency.”
Only about six of the “Tricentennial Royal” coins are believed to exist.
The family received a Facebook congratulatory message from 1715 Fleet.
“Congratulations to the entire Schmitt family and the crew of the Aarrr Booty. Way to go Eric [Schmitt], this is truly remarkable!!!”
Brisben emphasized that the significance of the find is due to its economic as well as historical value.
“These finds are important not just for their monetary value, but their historical importance. One of our key goals is to help learn from and preserve history, and this week’s finds draw us closer to those truths.”
The famous 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet was a convoy of 12 vessels that included five ships of the New Spain Flota under Captain-General Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla; six ships of the Squadron of Tierra Firme, commanded by Captain-General Don Antonio de Echeverz y Zubiz, and a French ship commanded by Captain Antonio Daire.
The fleet, sailing from Havana to Spain laden with the “Queen’s Jewels,” was caught in a fierce hurricane on the night of July 30 near the modern-day city of Vero Beach, Florida. Eleven of the vessels and 1,000 lives were lost. About 1,500 sailors reached the Florida shore by various means, including swimming and floating on pieces of the wreckage.
According to Florida Today, the registered cargo carried by Ubilla’s fleet of five ships was valued at more than 3.5 million pesos. Some sources estimate it at more than 6 million pesos, worth hundreds of millions in present-day value of U.S. dollars.
Although a substantial part of the treasure was recovered at the time, treasure worth more than $500 million remained lost in the bottom of the ocean.
After years of effort, 1715 Fleet says it has found and identified six of the sunken ships but there remains five more with treasure worth about $400 million.
Twenty percent of the newly found treasure will go to the State of Florida which will hold them in a museum, while the rest of the treasure will be shared between the Schmitt family and 1715 Fleet.
[Images: Facebook/1715 Fleet – Queen’s Jewels, LLC]