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More than $1 million in gold coins and chains dating back at least 300 years have been found on the sea floor. Source: Booty Salvage
More than $1 million in gold coins and chains dating back at least 300 years have been found on the sea floor. Source: Booty Salvage

Treasure hunters strike $1M gold bounty

A group of treasure hunters has discovered a bounty of gold coins and jewellery within the ruins of a shipwreck that met its demise 300 years ago.

The hoard was uncovered by Eric Schmitt and his family, who operate a treasure-hunting business. Schmitt had been exploring the wreckage of the Spanish ‘Plate Fleet’ – a convoy of 11 Spanish ships that sank off the US coast near Florida during a hurricane in 1715 – when he found a gold coin in the sand.

Eric Schmitt, Booty Salvage captain
Eric Schmitt, Booty Salvage captain

This was just the beginning, however, with the total find reportedly valued at more than US$1 million (AU$1.4 m) and comprising about 50 gold coins, 12 metres of gold chain and 110 silver coins.

Amongst the gold coins was a rare royal eight Spanish escudo minted in 1715, which is believed to have a value of US$500,000 (AU$687,530).

Schmitt’s business, Booty Salvage, is a subcontractor of 1715 Fleet – Queen Jewels, a salvage company that owns the exclusive rights to the Plate Fleet wreckage.

Although 1715 Fleet – Queen Jewels had been scouring the ruins since the business was founded in 2010, co-founder Brent Brisben reportedly said the latest discovery was probably the biggest in terms of volume and rarity.

This is not the first time the operators of Booty Salvage have struck gold at the site. The Schmitt family made headlines in 2013 when they uncovered about US$300,000 (AU$412,220) in gold coins and jewellery and again in 2014 when they found the missing piece of a sacred gold filigree necklace.
 

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Tuesday, 21 May, 2019 12:26am
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