‘Ship of Gold’ exhibit will feature $40m in ‘new cargo’ gold-rush treasures

First public exhibit of latest recovered glittering trove from fabled SS Central America will be at Feb. 22-24 Long Beach Expo

The unparalleled SS Central America “Ship of Gold” exhibit will dock with $40 million USD of glittering “new cargo” sunken treasure at the Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp and Sports Collectible Expo.

This will be the first public display of a portion of the historic gold and silver coins, gold ingots and unopened sacks of treasure gold dust recovered during the 2014 expedition to the Atlantic Ocean site where the Gold Rush-era cargo was lost at sea 161 years ago.

The California Gold Marketing Group acquired the never-before-publicly exhibited treasure in a court-approved transaction this past November and will be publicly displaying the legendary trove for the first time.

“The story of the SS Central America, its cargo, its lost passengers and crew and its survivors is a historic moment in American history, and the recovered items are a time capsule of the great California Gold Rush,” said Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group. “For insurance purposes, we’ve estimated the display’s value at $40 million, but these extraordinary treasures are priceless.”


An 85-metre long, three-masted side-wheel steamship, the SS Central America was carrying tons of California gold that had been shipped from San Francisco to Panama when she sank in a hurricane during a voyage from Aspinwall (now Colón), Panama to New York City in September 1857. The shipwreck site and the gold were discovered more than 2,130 metres below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in September 1988.

Housed in a 12-metre long re-creation of the famous ship’s hull, the Ship of Gold exhibit originally debuted at the February 2000 Long Beach Expo to display a portion of the vast treasure from the first SS Central America recovery operations in the late 1980s. The exhibit has since been viewed by millions of people across the U.S. and abroad.

This latest display will showcase many of the 3,100 gold coins, more than 10,000 silver coins and 45 gold ingots that have been held in secure vaults since they were retrieved from the ocean floor four years ago. All the coins are now being certified by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) using the new PCGS Gold Shield service.

“The exhibit also includes a type of historic SS Central America items never before displayed: leather satchels filled with more than 1,000 ounces of 1857 California gold dust that were recovered from a safe on the sunken ship,” said Manley.

The gold dust is contained in the original pokes, hand-sewn sacks that remained sealed since 1857 or earlier. 

“This is truly an international discovery. In addition to all the United States coins, the trove includes many coins from around the world, including two Australian gold sovereigns struck in Sydney in 1855 and 1856, and both are the finest known,” said Manley. “There also are gold coins from France, including a Napoleon 20 francs, British gold sovereigns of Queen Victoria, Mexican eight escudos, Netherlands ducats, Dutch guldens and Peruvian gold, too.”


Robert D. Evans, the chief scientist on the 1980’s mission that first located and recovered a portion of the sunken treasure and who assisted with the 2014 recovery, will be at the exhibit each day during the show to meet with visitors.

On Jan. 9, the California Gold Marketing Group received court approval and formally took possession of the treasure recovered from the SS Central America in 2014. It had already been transported from Florida to PCGS headquarters in California but remained in 38 unopened containers that were sealed in June 2014.

Manley and Evans promptly began opening the sealed containers on Jan. 10, when they began the careful process of examining, curating and cataloguing the trove, one historic piece of treasure at a time.

The three-day Long Beach Expo will be open to the public on Feb. 22-24 at the Long Beach, Calif. Convention Center on 100 S. Pine Ave.

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