Tuesday, 16 December 2014

2015 Award Winning Coins

Krause Publications has released the category winner list for the 2015 Coin of The Year Awards.
Most Artistic Coin. 100-euro gold coin, KM-3225, issued in the Austrian Wildlife series and depicting a Red Deer.

Best Bi-Metallic Coin. Tunneling themed 25-euro silver and niobium coin, KM-321.
Best Gold Coin. Austrian 50-euro coin called The Expectation, KM-3218.

Most Historically Significant. The Netherlands 5-euro silver coin marking the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, KM-326
Best Contemporary. A copper-nickel ruble, KM-436, issued by Belarus.

Best Silver Coin. Latvia's 1 lats coin marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of composer Richard Wagner, KM-140.
Best Circulating Coin. The United States Mount Rushmore, copper-nickel piece is part of the America the Beautiful series, KM-546.

Most Innovative Coin. A gilded silver coin showing a howling wolf, which is actually a cutout, issued by Mongolia, KM-328.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Expensive US Guns

Wyatt Earp's Colt .45-caliber revolver. $ 225,000. The revolver was passed down by the Earp family and is likely the one Wyatt used in the most legendary gunfight in wild west history, the O.K. Corral shootout — which became legend.

.44-caliber Smith & Wesson that killed Jesse James: $350,000. The James Gang terrorized Kansas and Missouri for nearly two decades led by the outlaw Jesse James.

The shot that killed James was delivered from a .44 which brought $350,000 at an Anaheim auction in 2003.
Teddy Roosevelt’s Double-Barreled Shotgun: $862,500. The Fox Gun Company made the gun especially for Roosevelt’s safari as he ended his presidential term. The former president remarked “it is the most beautiful gun I have ever seen” The firearm sold at a 2010 Julia Inc. gun auction.
A tiny 6-inch derringer sitting in a display case at Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site is perhaps the most valuable in the world. Yet the only price ever paid for the item was around $25 in the mid-1800s, by John Wilkes Booth.

One shot was all Booth had to end Abraham Lincoln’s life when he entered the President’s theater box on April 14, 1865. Kept for generations as evidence by the War Department, the relic eventually returned to its fateful origins at the Ford Theatre where it had changed the course of history.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

The SS Islander Treasure

The SS Islander was a 1519 ton, steel hull, schooner-rigged twin-screw steamer, built in Scotland in 1888, and owned and operated by the Canadian-Pacific Navigation Company. She was built especially for the Inside Passage to Alaska and was reputedly the most luxurious steamer engaged on that run.
On August 14th, 1901 the Islander departed Skagway, Alaska for Victoria, British Columbia, filled to capacity with passengers and carrying a cargo of gold bullion valued at over $6,000,000 in 1901 dollars. (gold was worth around $ 20 per ounce)

Sometime after 2:00am on 15 August, 1901 while sailing down the narrow Lynn Canal south of Juneau, the SS Islander struck an iceberg and within five minutes, her bow was underwater and her stern, rudder and propellers completely out of the water. She sank within 20 minutes.

Fifty ounces of gold were recovered from one body and another lucky passenger was reportedly carrying 600 ounces of gold dust when rescued. Some estimate upwards of 480,000 ounces may have been on board.

Reports concerning the substantial value of the ship's cargo led to many early salvage attempts and also several lawsuits. No sooner had the Islander sunk than efforts began to locate the wreck.

The first attempt to locate the Islander was a failure. In 1902 Henry Finch, an experienced diver with 40 years' experience, dragged the bottom of the Lynn Canal for the wreck. He located the hull but was not able to proceed with an actual salvage attempt.

Islander in Drydock
In the 1930s a salvage company raised about two-thirds of the Islander's hull. According to the 1992 report, it cost an estimated $200,000 to beach the remains, and the salvagers got about $50,000 in returns.

About 60 feet of the ship's forward section snapped off during the raising and remained under water.

The ship was believed to be transporting "hundreds of pounds of gold" from the Klondike to Seattle and San Francisco. The gold would likely be "single gold bars and boxes of gold bars" buried under as much as 8 feet of silt.

Theodore Jaynes and his company, Ocean Mar Inc., had been fighting since the 1990s for salvage rights to the vessel.

In June 2012 after a court ruling the state of Alaska issued a permit allowing for archaeological work at the site.

In a 2007 filing, Ocean Mar said its research had indicated that at least six tons of gold bullion in 25 to 30 wooden boxes was stored in a passenger cabin. It also said it had found what it believed to be bullion boxes near shore, no deeper than 200 feet.
To date there have been no reports of gold recovery from the SS Islander.