‘Ship of Gold’ exposes a highlight of ANA Bourse

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Bob Evans, chief scientist on missions to find and recover sunken treasures from the California Gold Rush of the SS Central America, is seen here making final preparations for the ‘Nemo’ exhibit, Chicago 2022’s 12,000-pound remote-controlled submersible which was used from 1988 to locate and recover historic artifacts. (All photos courtesy of Donn Pearlman.)

One could barely walk onto the stock exchange at the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money Aug. 16-20 and not notice the giant piece of machinery on display at the “Ship of Gold” sunken treasure exhibit. The exhibit, co-hosted by the California Gold Marketing Group and Holabird Western Americana Collections, featured dozens of historical artifacts from the California Gold Rush era dating back to the 1857 sinking SS Central America.

And this giant machine? His name is “Nemo”, and he is responsible for retrieving artifacts from the bottom of the ocean. The 12,000-pound remote-controlled submersible was in use from 1988. This was its first public display, having been stored in a warehouse in Ohio since 1991.

Bob Evans, chief scientist on the recovery missions of the SS Central America, was on hand to share details with exhibit visitors. Descendants of Edward Hull, the ship’s purser, were also present.

An interesting part of the great SS Central America artifact exhibit at the 2022 Chicago Silver World's Fair was an unopened miner's poke, possibly filled with California Gold Rush goodies.  The name

An interesting part of the great SS Central America The artifact display at the 2022 Chicago Silver World’s Fair was an unopened miner’s punch, possibly filled with California gold rush treats. The name “L. Dorsey” is written on it, and sunken treasure salvage works have even uncovered receipts for his notes on the ill-fated “Ship of Gold” that sank in 1857.

Two descendants of SS Central America ship's purser Edward Hull visited the sunken treasure exhibit

Two descendants of SS Central America ship’s purser Edward Hull toured the ‘Ship of Gold’ sunken treasure exhibit at the 2022 Chicago Silver World’s Fair. Left to right: Bob Evans, Chief Historian and Scientist of the SS Central America recovery and preservation, 1985-2022; Fred Holabird, president of Holabird Western Americana Collections; Linda Stanton of Georgia, Hull’s great-granddaughter, holding the purser’s keys to the ship’s treasure storage room; and Gina Hitchens of Ohio, Hull’s great-great-granddaughter.

Artifacts on display ranged from silver and gold to clothing and jewelry to everyday objects brought on board by passengers and crew.

The SS Central America sank 7,200 feet deep in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina during a hurricane on September 12, 1857. The tragedy claimed the lives of 425 of the 578 passengers and crew of the vessel. The loss of gold cargo was a major factor in the financial panic of the United States in 1857.

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