The Brother Jonathan


The Brother Jonathan

September 30, 2010 226 view(s)

While there have been several well-known and well documented hoards of coins in the past century, there have also been a selection of shipwrecks that have turned up their fair share of intriguing and rather large collections of coins in just the last 20 or so years. These shipwrecks have been found after many decades of sitting on the ocean floor and long years of hard searching, but the coins that have been found turned out to be more than worth the effort. Consider this well-known shipwreck and the cargo it carried: On the 30th day of July in 1865 the Brother Jonathan set sail from San Francisco en route to Victoria, British Columbia. On board this heavily overloaded vessel were 240 souls and what was rumored to be a cargo of $2 million in gold, $250,000 in US Army payroll, 346 barrels of fine whiskey, pair of camels and one horse.

Two days after the Brother Jonathan set sail, she encountered a fierce storm and lost her way. In the heart of the storm the ship struck an uncharted rock and sank, killing all but 19 of those on board who managed to survive in one of the lifeboats. Rumors of the cargo led to many searches over the years to find the Brother Jonathan with no success. That was until 1993 when "Deep-Sea Research" found the wreckage after some 20 years of research and searching using the latest high tech equipment. The salvage and recovery efforts managed to bring 1,200 gold coins to the surface, a large percentage of which were $20 Liberty Coins that were all dated 1865 and bore the mark of the San Francisco Mint.

Prior to the discovery of these coins there were only 7, 1865 $20 Liberty coins that had been graded by the PCGS to be in mint condition, one at MS61.5, two at MS 62 and one at MS 63, none were known to exist at a higher grading. The find brought 400 more 1865 $20 Liberty coins to the market and for a short period of time the mystique of the coins drove the price up significantly. However, by 1999 the price of these coins had dropped by as much as 25%, making patient investors happy that they waited before adding one or more of these beautiful coins to their collection. Being able to search the oceans depths and recover such artifacts is amazing and has resulting in many amazing finds.