Sunday, July 31, 2016

7/31/16 Report - 1715 Fleet Gold Rings Facts and Theories. Tropical Disturbance Quickly Approaching.

Written by the Treasureguide for the exclusive use of

Life Rings Shown in an Illustration
Submitted to me by Darrel Strickland.\

I received some excellent information from Darrel Strickland, a very accomplished student of Spanish Colonial artifacts, concerning the rings found on the 1715 Fleet wrecks.  Darrel sent me a section of Bob Weller's book that discusses salvaged rings, including what are called "Life" rings. Weller refers to the 1999 Florida East Coast Shipwreck Project Report where the rings are discussed (pages 216-226).

Weller says his Crossed Anchors Salvage group found over 90 finger rings, mostly from the Nieves site.  In 1993, they discovered 22 gold rings on the Cabin Wreck site. He said he believed, as did most of the salvage community, that the rings were carried as cargo, as opposed to being worn by the crew or passengers of the 1715 Fleet.  The clustering, something that I used to talk about a great deal, was one of the reasons for that conclusion.

Weller mentioned "Ringsville," an area where a lot of rings were found clustered. He described  Ringsville as an area where there was "some sort of swale or low depression between the reefs."

You might find the speculated source of the rings interesting.  Weller speculated that "many of the more intricately engraved rings were made in China, traded at the Manila fair, and brought to Mexico by way of the Manila Gallions."  He goes on to speculate that the Spanish artisans did not have the capabilities during the 1600s and 1700s to carve ring designs nor cut the emeralds and diamonds found on the rings.  He did however think that some of the more simple rings could have been made in Mexico or by conquistadors or sailors with spare time on their hands.

Thanks much to Darrel Strickland for forwarding this information.

I also received the picture shown at the top of the post from Darrel with some additional information.  From that information I can tell that the Life Rings were engraved with different images than the one that was most recently found.

It seems to me that the Life Rings were customized and engraved for an individual with scenes that were especially significant for that person.  But that would not seem to fit well with the rings as cargo theory.  Of course, there could be a mixture.

You might recall my discussion of the lack of silver rings on the 1715 Fleet.  That seems to me to go along well with the gold  rings as cargo theory.  Weller does mention one silver ring, but that is not much compared to the hundreds of gold rings.   I have my own developing theory on the silver rings found on the 1715 Fleet beaches.

Here is an email Darrel sent me.

I have enjoyed your site for years. We have met on the beach before. 

I started detecting when Kip took my grandmother and I to a coin shop located in the Ft. Pierce Hotel during the late 60s. They bought me a Whites Coinmaster with the big blue rectangular box. We went to the old Colored Beach and found some coins. After that I never found one item. I was too young to understand the mechanics. I decided to stick with looking for bottles and arrowheads. It wasn't until I met Bob Weller and Jon Wilson that I decided to take this more seriously. Bob has passed away and Jon moved to Georgia. 

Growing up as a child in Ft. Pierce I knew all the Reale 8 members. Mel and Mo used to nickname me "cracker." Don't think it meant what most thought. I used to love the crackers they would serve when visiting. My grandmother, Beatrice Sisco, known as Bea, would loan them money or "invest" into their adventures. She ran a trailer park where the St. Lucie Museum is now located. Many of the divers would hang at the old Chucks and tie their boats at the old park. I assume this how they all got acquainted.

Since 1990, I began to research material for many of the infamous salvagers. It is sad that most are gone. Last year, in sync with 300th anniversary of 1715 fleet disaster, I donated most of the material to Vero Beach Library. I met Pamela when she first started there and always appreciated her invaluable time and knowledge in regards to Eugene Lyons, John Debris, Jack Haskins, Rex Stockton, Molinar, Mel and family, etc., etc., etc. These were just the few of many that I had the pleasure of meeting, researching for, or knowing. Pamela knew them and that impressed me because her responsibilities exceeded gathering material on treasure hunters and I knew it would be good hands.

It has been 50 years since my first adventure of metal detecting. Time flies and I hope that others will donate their material on ALL the local wrecks in that area before it finds it path to a trash can or just forgotten forever! 

Thanks much Darrel!

Darrel also helped, along with John Powel and Jim Baldwin, create the web site, which is absolutely outstanding.  Darrel also wrote a book on the 1715 Fleet and donated much material to the Vero Beach Library, where you can find it.  Ask Pamela Cooper at the Vero Library. She has accumulated a lot of material on the treasure wrecks.


No matter what you eventually do with finds, be sure to store them carefully.  Many artifacts get very brittle and break.  Many corrode if not carefully cleaned and stored.  It can be heart breaking to see a nice item break or be destroyed with time, and that can easily happen.  I was recently reading about a museum that stored historic items in old coffee cans that resulted in serious damage to the items.  Don't make that kind of mistake.


Two Tropical Disturbances
We have two tropical disturbances now.  One, having a 40% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours is moving over the Lesser Antilles.

The surf will be up a bit this week, but just to about two feet or so.

Keep an eye on this first storm.

Happy hunting,