Sunday, February 26, 2017

2/26/17 Report - Coal: One Possible Sign Of a Nearby Wreck. 19th Century Treasure Salvage Company.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Found on Treasure Coast Beach
Have you ever noticed a black lump like the one shown above on the beach?  Maybe you didn't pay it any attention.  You don't see it all the time.

This one isn't a burnt piece of wood, or a fossil.  It is a piece of coal.

I've found few pieces of coal on the Treasure Coast.  This one isn't the first.

I know a piece of coal when I see one.  I shoveled truck loads of coal into a basement up north to be used for heating during the winter.  And my wife's father owned a coal company.

But that doesn't tell you what a piece of coal would be doing on a Florida beach.  One possibility, and perhaps one of the most likely, is that it came from a shipwreck.  This one was found where other shipwreck artifacts, including spikes, galley bricks, and pieces of planking have been found.

Coal has been found on shipwrecks dating back to the early 1600s, but is very common on wrecks of the 1800s, when it was often used for power but was also a common cargo.

For example, the S. S. Copenhagen was on route from Philadelphia to Havana transporting 4,940 tons of coal when it sank. It now lies  3/4 of a nautical mile offshore just south of Hillsboro Inlet.  (See ).

On the Stories From Ispwich web site, two sentences are the following.  When you’re walking on Crane Beach near Steep Hill Coal, you might be surprised to see lumps of coal lying on the sand.  This would be quite a mystery were it not for the tragic history of brigs and schooners transporting coal in the 19th century.  (See for the rest of that article).

But the pieces I've found are from a Treasure Coast beaches.  One beach where I've found the most coal is a beach where I suspect a 19th century wreck nearby.  I've also found a good number of percussion caps on the same beach, along with quite a few miscellaneous items.  The percussion caps, if they are wreck related (a big question mark), would support a 19th century date.

One point I want to make here is that coal can be found on Treasure Coast beaches and it can be a clue suggesting the possibility a nearby shipwreck.  It might not come from a wreck, but on the Treasure Coast, that possibility is about as likely as any other, especially if there is other evidence of a wreck in the area.


On the Treasure Coast we are very aware of modern treasure salvage efforts, but as you all know, shipwreck salvage has been going on for a very long time.

I stumbled onto what I thought was a very interesting ad in the 1874 Saward's Coal Trade Journal that announces the formation of the Galleon Treasure Company, which had the purpose of recovering for the Spanish government, treasure sunk in Vigo harbor.  7500 shares of stock were issued having the paper value of $750,000.

Below is a good part (nearly half) of the announcement.  You might be able to find the rest of the ad by clicking on this link.

I thought it was interesting to see statements made on behalf of a large treasure salvage company formed as far back as 1874.  We all know of the Treasure Coast treasure companies of the 20th century, but treasure companies were formed long before all of that.


We had a good north wind most of the day.  I'm sure there will be a spot or two with some cuts.  I didn't get out to see if anything actually happened yet.

Happy hunting,