On September 3, 1857, the SS Central America began a voyage from Panama to New York carrying very important cargo: thousands of freshly minted gold coins from California, desperately needed by New York banks that were facing an economic crisis. Six days later, the ship found itself in the grips of a Category 2 hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas. After three days of struggling with high winds and waves, the ship’s crew lost its battle with the storm and the Central America sank, resulting in the loss of more than 400 lives and more than 9 tons of gold.
For more than 130 years, treasure hunters dreamed of discovering the wreck of the SS Central America, which quickly became known as the “Ship of Gold.” When the wreck was finally discovered in the late 1980s, the process of retrieving its treasure began.
NGC is thrilled to reveal to the public the final mystery of the ship’s recovered cargo — a box containing $20 gold coins from the height of the California Gold Rush, now certified, preserved and ready to be studied and appreciated by collectors around the world. Click below to watch a video showing the treasure’s journey to the NGC grading room, view a gallery of all 123 coins that were found and learn more about the incredible discovery, finally revealed.