Shipwreck silver offered by jeweler

Spanish silver lost 363 years at the bottom of the sea before being recovered by a treasure hunter will be offered for sale Saturday in the form of coins, jewelry and artifacts from the galleon Atocha.

Jack Magne said he was struck by the irony of silver lost so long being hidden away by collectors who bought Atocha ingots in 1987. He said he began buying the silver with the intent of putting it into the hands of the public in affordable form.

Magne bought actual artifacts - pieces of eight and four - from Atocha salvager Mel Fisher's company, then engaged a long-time Florida family company to cast reproductions from the originals. He said the lost wax masters for each piece are created directly from the original artifacts with no intermediate steps to degrade details.

The reproduction coins as well as some small crosses based on Atocha pieces are used for rings, earrings and necklaces. Prices range from $30 to $500 with the majority under $100, Magne said.

Magne also has a few of the actual Atocha coins for sale to interested collectors, he said.

"So often, treasure items are seen as the province of rich collectors or other elite. This way, someone can have authentic silver from a treasure ship in the shape of the actual items from the Atocha," he said.

Magne said he originally bought several silver ingots, weighing over 75 pounds each from Fisher after the salvager won a hard-fought battle with state and federal agencies for the right to keep his find.

The notoriety of the Atocha, documented in National Geographic magazine and television specials as well as other programs and articles, means the treasure may be the best known in the world, he said.

Magne will display the silver pieces in the Governor's Room of the Ormsby House from 10 to 4 p.m. Saturday.


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