Friday, October 19, 2007

Treasure Hunters Face Spanish Armada (NY Times)

Back in May, Odyssey Marine Exploration counted the reasons why its latest treasure — an estimated $500 million in silver in a shipwreck — was theirs for the keeping, since the coins recovered “beyond the territorial waters or legal jurisdiction of any country.”

This week, we learned that Spain strongly disagrees. An incensed senior official summed it up to Agence France-Presse:

Spanish Culture Minister Antonio Molina said Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration was made up of “modern pirates” and he warned that “against pirates, there have always been navies, laws and the state of law.”

“We will pursue them wherever they are. It is a question of national pride and patriotism,” he told reporters, adding the Nasdaq-listed firm “will not escape unharmed for what it has done”.

And those words were preceded with military muscle. On its way out of the Straits of Gibraltar, Odyssey’s Explorer found itself eye-to-eye with a Spanish warship backed by other vessels. The standoff lasted 4 hours before Captain Sterling Vorus agreed to head to port under the “threat of deadly force,” he told Britain’s Telegraph. He was briefly detained.

The episode has left Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s chief executive, expressing confusion with Spain’s intentions. “We’re not sure what the inspection of the Explorer is meant to accomplish,” he said, according to The Tampa Tribune. “We had again invited Spanish officials to inspect the Explorer in advance of our departure and they chose not to take us up on it.”

The coins themselves were brought to . . .

Full story at: Link

Ancient Roman Coins Found in Portugal

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Archaeologists excavating a site in northeastern Portugal discovered 4,500 ancient Roman coins tucked away inside a wall.

The bundle of 4,526 copper and bronze coins was hidden inside the wall of a 4th century blacksmith's home, said Antonio Sa Coixao, who is leading excavation in Coriscada.

The sack holding the coins appeared to have disintegrated, he said.

"It looks like someone was trying to hide them but they never went back to get them," Sa Coixao said Wednesday.

Full story at: Link

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rare 173-year-old gold coin sells for $5 million

ALBION, New York: A rare $10 gold coin made for former U.S. President Andrew Jackson to give as a diplomatic gift during trade missions to Asia was purchased Thursday by a private collector for $5 million.

The 1804-dated Eagle coin — which was actually struck in 1834 at the Philadelphia Mint — is one of only four surviving examples of the special coin.

"The buyer and seller want to remain anonymous. Both are northeastern United States entrepreneurs who have been collecting coins since they were young boys," said David Albanese, president of Albanese Rare Coins, which handled the sale.

The same coin sold for $1 million in 2003 and again in 2005 for $2.47 million, said Dean Albanese, the company's chief executive officer.

Full story at: Link

Out-of-this-world sales for Sputnik coin

Fifty years after the Russian satellite Sputnik launched the international space race, the New Zealand Mint is facing astronomical demand for its commemorative coin to mark the anniversary.

Russian ambassador Mikhail Lysenko, who checked out the coin yesterday, said of Sputnik's venture into space on October 4, 1957: "It was not just the launch of a piece of metal, but the launch of a new era of space technology."

Full story at: Link