Sunken treasure often stirs up images of pirates, high-sea adventures, and forgotten wealth hidden beneath the waves. But for one Florida family, this became a reality, not just a fanciful image from a storybook. The Schmitt family, long-time treasure hunters, struck gold, quite literally, off the Florida coast.
The Schmitts unearthed a veritable trove of 18th-century gold artifacts during one of their undersea expeditions. This wasn’t an accidental find but the result of their dedicated pursuit of underwater treasure hunting. The family’s discovery underscores Florida’s rich history and its connection to a bygone era of exploration and maritime trade.
In the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, right off the coast of Florida, the Schmitt family found their fortune. The value of their discovery? A staggering $1 million. This exceptional find includes a rare Tricentennial Royal gold coin, among other precious pieces, all remnants of a Spanish shipwreck that has lain undisturbed for centuries until now.
The Treasure Hunters Behind This Incredible Find
The Schmitt family, the treasure hunters behind this remarkable find, are no strangers to the thrill of discovery. Based in Florida, they have turned their passion for underwater exploration into a family business. Their latest exploit, unearthing $1 million worth of 18th-century gold artifacts off the coast of Florida, has thrust them back into the spotlight.
According to CBS News, the Schmitt family utilizes advanced GPS technology to track areas they excavate underwater. This methodical and tech-savvy approach has proven fruitful in their quest for hidden treasure, as evidenced by their recent discovery.
The Schmitts are part of a small community of treasure hunters who scour the Florida waters for lost bounty. As reported by Atlas Obscura, it’s a friendly competition among this group, each vying for the next big find. The Schmitts’ dedication to their craft and their knack for finding treasure has made them well-respected figures within this unique community. Their most recent discovery not only underscores their skill but also adds another fascinating chapter to Florida’s rich history of treasure hunting.
Precious Artifacts They Recover from the Ocean
The Schmitt family unearthed a variety of 18th-century gold artifacts, each with its historical significance and value. Let’s delve into the specifics of these precious items that have been hidden beneath the ocean waves for centuries.
- Gold Coins: The family recovered 51 gold coins of various denominations from the wreckage. These coins, dating back to the 18th century, are a testament to the rich history of Spanish maritime trade. According to The Archaeologist, such coins are rare finds and hold considerable value for historians and collectors alike.
- Gold Chains: Alongside the coins, the Schmitts found 40 feet of ornate gold chains. These chains, adorned with olive blossom designs, are typical of the period’s craftsmanship. Such artifacts provide insights into the aesthetic preferences and artistic abilities of their time.
- Tricentennial Royal Gold Coin: Perhaps the most exciting part of their find is the ‘Tricentennial Royal’ gold coin. This highly rare coin was made for Spain’s King Phillip V and dated 1715. Smithsonian Magazine reports that only about six of these pieces are known to exist, making this find exceptionally significant.
- Gold Earrings: The treasure trove also contained a pair of gold earrings. These exquisite pieces of jewelry exhibit the intricate design work of 18th-century Spanish artisans. Such personal items provide a glimpse into the fashion and tastes of the era.
- Emerald Ring: Among the golden artifacts, an emerald ring was another noteworthy find. Emeralds were highly prized in the 18th century, often used in jewelry for the elite. The presence of this ring suggests the ship was carrying items of high value, possibly intended for trade or as personal wealth.
This array of artifacts not only carries monetary value but also serves as a tangible connection to our past, shedding light on a time of exploration, trade, and adventure on the high seas.
What Makes the ‘Tricentennial Royal’ Gold Coin Exceptionally Rare?
The ‘Tricentennial Royal’ gold coin, part of the Schmitt family’s remarkable find, is exceptionally rare and historically significant. This coin was minted in 1715 for Spain’s King Phillip V, making it a piece of royal treasure intended for the Spanish crown. According to The Washington Post, such coins were typically made on special occasions and were not circulated, adding to their rarity.
The coin’s historical significance lies not only in its royal connection but also in the insights it provides into the economic and political landscape of the 18th century. As reported by National Geographic, these coins reflect the wealth and power of the Spanish empire during that era, which was largely built on the riches brought back from its colonies in the New World.
The ‘Tricentennial Royal’ is also highly valued for its rarity and condition. According to Live Science, such coins can fetch up to $500,000 at auction, depending on their condition and the market’s interest. The Schmitt family’s coin, given its excellent state of preservation, is likely to be at the higher end of this range. This exceptional find underscores the allure of treasure hunting and the potential rewards for those with the patience and skill to uncover lost pieces of history.
How Does This Discovery Relate to the 1715 Spanish Shipwreck?
The Schmitt family’s discovery of 18th-century gold artifacts is believed to be connected to the infamous 1715 Spanish shipwreck, a maritime disaster that saw a fleet of Spanish galleons sink off the Florida coast. According to CoinWeek, eleven out of the twelve ships in the fleet were lost, including all the treasure galleons. This devastating event resulted in an immense loss of wealth for the Spanish empire.
The 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet, as it came to be known, was carrying a vast wealth of goods from the New World back to Spain when it was caught in a violent storm. As reported by Wikipedia, the Urca de Lima, the largest of the ships, was believed to be carrying five million Spanish dollars worth of gold. The fleet was also overladen with other valuable items due to shipping disruptions caused by the War of the Spanish Succession.
The Schmitt family’s find, which includes the exceptionally rare ‘Tricentennial Royal’ gold coin minted in 1715, suggests a connection to this ill-fated fleet. The coin’s date and its royal significance align with the historical context of the shipwreck. As National Geographic mentions, these coins reflect the wealth and power of the Spanish empire during that era, much of which was lost in the 1715 disaster.
Therefore, the treasure unearthed by the Schmitts likely forms part of the lost wealth of the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet. Their find adds another piece to the historical puzzle of this maritime tragedy, offering a tangible link to a pivotal moment in history when fortunes sank beneath the waves.
What Happens to the Sunken Treasure Now?
The fate of the Schmitt family’s discovered treasure is governed by a complex set of laws and regulations. According to FindLaw, the principle of “treasure trove” can apply to cases where ownership of the treasure cannot be established, potentially allowing the finders to claim possession. However, in the United States, both federal and state laws can come into play, complicating matters.
Federal law, particularly the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA), restricts treasure hunting of items more than 100 years old. As per Wikipedia, this could potentially impact the Schmitts’ claim to their find. State laws also have a say in such cases. For example, a landmark Supreme Court case, Florida Dept. of State v. Treasure Salvors, Inc., established that states can exert claims over shipwrecked property within their territorial waters.
Given these legal intricacies, what happens next with the Schmitt family’s discovery could involve:
- Legal Claim: The Schmitts might need to establish their claim to the treasure in court. This would likely involve proving that the treasure constitutes a “treasure trove” and that no one else has a valid claim to it.
- State Involvement: Depending on the location of the find, the state of Florida may assert its claim to the treasure, as per the precedent set by Florida Dept. of State v. Treasure Salvors, Inc.
- Distribution: If the Schmitts win their claim, they would then decide how to distribute or use their newfound wealth. This could involve selling the artifacts, donating them to a museum, or keeping them as family heirlooms.
The Schmitts’ remarkable find has potentially set in motion a complex legal process that will determine the final disposition of their sunken treasure.
Why Does This Discovery Matter?
This discovery by the Schmitt family serves as a tangible link to Florida’s rich and often tumultuous history, specifically its connection to the Spanish empire and the many shipwrecks that occurred along its coast. The unearthed treasure, including the exceptionally rare ‘Tricentennial Royal’ gold coin, provides direct evidence of the wealth that once flowed through Florida’s waters, contributing to our understanding of the region’s past.
Moreover, this find adds to Florida’s reputation for unusual happenings, from mysterious Bermuda Triangle incidents to the frequent discoveries of sunken treasures. It showcases the allure of treasure hunting and the potential rewards awaiting those with the patience and skill to uncover lost pieces of history. This extraordinary find reminds us that, sometimes, the past can still make waves in the present.