Saturday, October 12, 2013

10/12/13 Report - The Florida Collection of Treasure Coins and Artifacts and The Poll Results

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Before I get into the results of the recent blog poll and what it means to me, if you didn't already know, the Florida Collection of treasure coins, according to their web site, is located in the Research and Conservation Laboratory of the Division of Historical Resources.

Their web site says tours of the lab can be arranged.  I don't know exactly what that might include.

Here is what I got from their web site.
Conservation Lab
R.A. Gray Building
500 S. Bronough Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250
To arrange for a tour of the conservation lab please call (850) 245-6444.

Now the blog poll results.  The results are both revealing and significant.

The people who responded to the poll on this blog can safely be assumed to be people interested in treasure hunting and metal detecting - so much so that they seek out information about the treasure beaches on the internet.  As I've shown before, many are Florida residents, but a good number are snow birds and residents of other states, many of whom visit Florida and the Treasure Coast, including many who visit to metal detect on the Treasure Coast.

Here is the first item on the poll.

I have  personally seen coins or artifacts after they were added to the Florida Collection.

Of the 117 respondents, only 6 (5% of the poll respondents) indicated that they had ever seen items that were in the Florida Collection.
The Florida Collection, as many statement from the Division of Historical Resources makes clear, is to preserve Florida's history for the public.That means that about 5% of a group of people that would certainly be among the most interested have seen any of those items.  I would not be surprised if that group included some who work in the salvage industry and actually recovered those items to begin with.  

I would guess that some of those might have seen items in the Florida Collection before they were selected by the state to be a part of the Florida Collection because I know that some readers of this blog work on salvage vessels that contribute items to the collection.

If so few of those that actively seek information about treasure on the internet have seen those items, I would have to conclude that only a very very small percent of Florida's total population have seen these items that are so coveted by the State and maintained at considerable expense by the tax paying public.

Here is the second item of the poll.

I would gladly pay to see treasure coins that are a part of the Florida Collection.  

42 respondents, about 35 percent of those that responded to the poll, said they would be glad to pay to see treasure coins in the Collection.
In other words nearly ten times the number that had seen items in the collection said that they would be happy to pay to see those items. 

That fact is supported by a previous blog poll that showed that a large number of this blog's readers have paid (around $13) to see the privately owned and operated Mel Fisher Museums.  49% of the respondents to that poll said they have visited the Mel Fisher Museum in Key West while 58% had visited the Mel Fisher Museum in Sebastian.  Therefore about ten times more have seen the privately owned and operated Fisher treasure museums than have seen the items in the Florida Collection. 

If it were not for private salvage groups like the Fishers and Odyssey Marine Explorations, few of us would have ever seen much of this large and important part of Florida's historic heritage.

The third item in the poll was, I would gladly pay to see artifacts kept in the Florida Collection.

The number of those that would pay to see the artifacts in the collection is nearly the same as those that would pay to see the coins - 35% as compared ot 36%.

Obviously the coins and artifacts are of similar interest to those that responded to the poll.

The fourth item of the poll was, I know little to nothing of the existence of the Florida Collection or where it resides except what I've read in this blog.

86 respondents, or 73% of the people who responded to this poll and who are obviously interested in treasure and history, don't know much about the Florida Collection despite the fact that it is maintained for the public and supported by tax-payer dollars.

Very little has been said in this blog about the Florida Collection, and much of that came from Alan Craig's book on the coins of the Florida Collection, which was copyrighted 13 years ago and costs around $50.  Much has been added to the collection since the publication of that book thirteen years ago.

I am sure that many copies of that book has been sold for the hefty price of $50 - again showing the interest of the public that is willing to pay to learn more about the items in the collection.

I must assume that even more people would be willing to pay to see items in the collection if they knew more about it.  

The fifth and last poll item was the following.  I would like to be able to look at items or get information about items in the Florida Collection online if I knew how to find them.

90 respondents, or 76% of the respondents, said they would like to be able to look at or learn more about the Florida Collection online.

People are interested in treasure.  People would like to see it and learn more about it.  The interest is there.  They pay to visit museums, buy books and they search for informaiton online.

My personal feeling is that since the tax payers support the Florida Collection, they should have easy and inexpensive, if not free, access to it.  The citizens own the collection.  That is clearly stated in the preface to Craig's book.  

In these days of the internet and virtual museums and online databases, etc. why is it so difficult for citizens to find information on the historic resources and see the collections that they fund with tax payer dollars?   A database of the coins exists.  An extensive effort was made to photograph and catalog the items by Mr. Craig.  Does anyone know how to access that database?  Is it available to the citizens of Florida?

If you want to browse or study shipwreck coins or artifacts, where do you go?  To auction catalogs?  To eBay?  To the treasurenet forums?   It isn't easy.  I know those are some of the resources that people  actually use to learn about Florida history through the treasure that has been recovered.  Those are the places that people can actually find some information.    If it wasn't for private sources like that, we would be hard pressed to find anything.  Yet we have a state maintained collection of thousands and thousands of coins and artifacts. 

I didn't start this poll knowing what I would learn from it.  I just put the questions out there and gathered the data.  I was surprised by some of the results.  For one thing, I didn't think this blog would be one of the main sources of informaiton about the Florida Collection.  I've mentioned very little about it, but many people know so little about it, that this blog has been a leading source source.  I think the results of this poll provide important information about an important Florida resource.

I interpreted the results conservatively.  I could have gone on at much greater length.

If anyone disagrees with my conclusions let me know.  I'll gladly make additions or corretions.

Thank you for your participation.  Feel free to communicate the results.

On the Treasure Coast we still have a 2 - 3 foot surf.  It looks like there will not be much change in beach conditions anytime soon.

There is one low pressure area in the Atlantic that has a 50% chance of forming in the next day or two.  We'll keep an eye on that.

Happy hunting,