1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet
The motion pictures The Deep and Fool’s Gold portray “Hollywood-style” versions of the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet, but these legendary coins are the real thing. The shining silver “Pieces of Eight” you see on our site were recovered from one of the ill-fated ships of Spain’s 1715 Feet, the victim of a hurricane that struck the fleet just a few days out of port, driving the ships onto the reefs just south of present Cape Canaveral, Florida.
In the early days of the Spanish Treasure Fleets, galleons loaded with treasures from New World ports such as Veracruz, Cartagena and Panama would gather in Havana Harbor, Cuba.
Then they would sail back to Spain, often in very small fleets, offering little protection from pirates and privateers. But when French privateers sacked Havana in 1655, the convoy system was adopted and in place by 1566, and didn’t end until 1790. The galleons from South and Central American ports staged at Havana, then would sail up the Straits of Florida, following the Gulf Stream past the Florida Keys and up to northern Florida before turning east and out across the Atlantic on their way to Spain.
The fleets returning to Spain were general purpose cargo fleets used for transporting a wide variety of items, including agricultural goods, various metal resources, lumber, luxuries, spices, sugar, tobacco, silk, and other exotic goods from the Spanish Empire in the Americas to Spain. But their most valuable cargo was the silver, gold, gems and pearls taken from New World mines and resources.
It was from this glittering stockpile of treasure that our coins come! Having met with one tedious delay after another, and forced to remain in port until well into hurricane season, the Fleet set sail…
But these delays sealed the fate of the mighty fleet. Within days of leaving Havana, Cuba, the remains of King Philip’s mighty fleet lay scattered for miles south of present-day Cape Canaveral.
It wasn’t until modern-day beach walker turned treasure salvor, Kip Wagner, cleaned one of the strange "flat black rocks" he picked up on one of his early morning walks, that the 1715 Fleet sailed back from forgotten history in the 1960s.
It is on the “Fleet” that Robert got his start as a Treasure Salvor and Historian, working with his mentor, renowned treasure salvor Captain Carl "Fizz" Fismer. Now, he bezels each of these precious Pieces of Eight with loving care, and, as you can imagine, they are some of his favorites.
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