Ancient Collector's Blog

20 Oct 2019

America's Greatest Treasure Ship, The Second Treasure-Finding Journey

Coins | Ancient Collector

Once again David Bowers, withthe assistance of Dwight Manley, has produced a marvelous book on the history of coins. The record of the Second Journey to the SS Central Americais a much more manageable book than the first tome on the subject, A California Gold Rush History; the new book being only 210 pages.

It kicks off with a fascinating Forward by Bob Evans, the "chief scientist and historian" on the staff. But when you get into Bowers' writing, it becomes something unusual in nonfiction - a real page turner. The text flows smoothly across many subjects and is highlighted by quotes from books and letters written during the period, not by historians and disinterested outsiders, but by and from those who lived the events and conditions described. The book also has photos of many old drawing, paintings, posters and other ephemera of the Era.

The tale begins with the discovery of gold and traces the history of the Gold Rush in 1848through 1856. The story pointedly highlights how the miners lived and how they gained and lost their fortunes. A chapter is devoted specifically to the Private Minters that operated in California during the period and the reasons for their existence.

The book proceeds to a brief review of the First Journey with the finding of the SS Central America and includes photos of the Ship of Gold Display at several coin shows. The Second Journey is deeply covered and engrossing.

The last chapter, titled, Numismatic Inventory of the 2014 Recovery, is worth the priced of the book by itself. The chapter provides a complete listing of the country of origin, date and mint of each coin recovered during this search. When it comes to the gold coins, the list becomes a photo album of the best example of each date and mint gold coin recovered, including the number recovered and the grading of the best example. This section covers $1, $2.50, $5, $10 and $20 US gold, Private gold coins and Fractional Gold Coins, California Gold Ingots (by Assayer) and Foreign gold coins.

The book concludes with several appendices, one of which includes a complete listing of the crew and passengers aboard the SS Central America on that fateful voyage.

For me, as a Native Californian whose family were gold prospectors and continued to classify themselves as Gold Miners through the 1910 Census, America's Greatest Treasure Ship is like reading the history of my family. But even to those not so linked, the book is an absolute must for your coin history library.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Bob Evans at the Long Beach Coin Show. There I bought a slabbed bit (0.5 gram) of gold flakes from the first recovery, a DVD on the Recovery and an autographed copy of the special Red Book edition covering the SS Central America. All of these hold a very special place in my collection.

I have to think that America's Greatest Treasure Ship is DavidBowers' best works and is a Must Read on the book list of anyone interested in American Coinage.



Level 6

I'll have to check out this book. Sounds like a great read! Thanks for a wonderful blog ; )


Level 5

I might need to check this book out! Sounds like a great story with some awesome history! Cheers, NM

I. R. Bama

Level 5

A great comprehensive collection around a theme! Great article you wrote here!


Level 6

I enjoy all Q. David Bowers books.


Level 6

Now this is a great blog. This is what Sam was talking about to his YN's. I checked out the first book from the ANA library and found it great. It covered all kinds of things. This sounds even better. One can't go wrong with a Bowers book. Thanks.


Level 4

Yes, I remember reading about the SS Central America in the Numismatist, sounds like a great book! Also Mike B, that would make a great movie!

It's Mokie

Level 6

I have a copy of Mr. Bowers' book also. Very readable and very informative. PLUS, I received a slabbed pinch of gold from the Central America along with my purchase. I donated it to PAN for their club auction, I think it sold for $65 or thereabouts.


Level 7

Sounds like a fascinating book. Something they should make..movie about. Thank you for all that great information. You sound like you were almost on that ship. Great blog .

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