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Atocha Silver Bars

The Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, struck a reef and sank near the Florida Keys on September 6, 1622, during a raging hurricane.  Mel Fisher and his company Treasure Salvors, Inc., discovered the main wreck site on July 20, 1985 and ultimately recovered a huge amount of treasure.

Approximately one thousand silver bars weighing between sixty and seventy pounds were listed on the Atocha's manifest when it sank.  The majority of the ingots were the property of individuals, although one hundred thirty-three bars, shipped in thirty-four boxes and marked with a red crown belonged to King Philip IV himself.

Many Atocha silver bars were mined and processed in Potosi, now in present day Bolivia, and hauled great distances to Portobello, a Caribbean port in what is now the Republic of Panama.  The cargo was then loaded onto the Atocha; each item registered as it was brought aboard.  During processing, each bar was struck with a serial number and various monograms indicating the owner or shipper.  The mint's assayer would then remove his "bite", a small piece that was tested to determine the purity of silver.  Once purity was established, the ingot was struck with the "Ley" or fineness number, typically 2380 out of a possible 2400 or 99.2% pure. All bars not belonging to the king were also struck with one or more tax stamps indicating the 20% royal tax "Quinto" was collected. Some bars were dated.

Each bar was graded and assigned a class factor rating ranging from .5 to 1.0.  The very best bars received a 1.0 rating and are characterized as being listed on the ships manifest and having a clear fineness mark, talley number, and at least a partial date.  Class factor .9 bars are similar, but usually lack a date or have weaker markings.  0.8 bars are weaker yet, are almost always undated, but can still be traced to the manifest.   0.7 bars have at least two marks, but not of sufficient quality to trace the bar to the ships manifest.  0.6 bars have only light traces of marks and .5 bars have no marks at all.

Original certificates of authenticity accompany all Atocha bars.

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Certificate of Authenticity

 

Item#:  S 39
TSI#:  85A-S39
Tag#:  2198
Manifest#:  928
Class Factor:  1.0
Karats:  2380
Weight:  77 troy lbs 4.64 oz
Size:  36.3x12.4x8.0 cm
Owner:  L. de Arriola
Shipper:  L. de Arriola

Price:  SOLD

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Atocha Bar - Top View

 

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Atocha Bar - Side View

 

This is an exceptional class factor 1.0 bar with rare markings found on only 5 of the approximately 1000 recovered Atocha bars:  left top - "QVARTAS" - rare mark found only on 5 bars owned by Arriola (this being the nicest), below QVARTAS mark - "monogrammed ARL with diamond above"- L. de Arriola owners mark, the same one used on the example bar image found on every certificate of authenticity, bracketing ARL owners mark - "large V" - found only on the 5 known QVARTAS bars, right of the large V - "1622" - the date the bar was founded at the Potosi mint, and most importantly, the only QVARTAS bar listed in the book as having a visible date, top center - "DCCCCXXVIII" - tally number (the 928th bar founded at the Potosi mint during the year of 1622), middle center below DCCCCXXVIII - "double-scoop assayers bite" - this style is only found on bars founded in Potosi, bottom center - "IIUCCCLXXX" - silver fineness (2380 out of 2400 or 99.2% pure), top right - "V" - the Atocha's silvermaster mark (Jacove de Vreder).  In addition to these markings, this bar has two tax stamps and some unknown markings located near the bottom right edge.  This bar is listed as number 39 in the book of "Spanish Treasure Bars from New World Shipwrecks".  The bar is accompanied by the original Certificate of Authenticity issued by Mel Fisher's company, Treasure Salvors Inc., as shown above.
 



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Certificate of Authenticity

 

Item#:  S 576
TSI#:  85A-S576
Tag#:  0442
Manifest#:  4344
Class Factor:  1.0
Karats:  2380
Weight:  80 troy lbs 3.84 oz
Size:  34.1x13.0x8.0 cm
Owner:  L. de Arriola
Shipper:  L. de Arriola

Price: 
SOLD
 

Click on picture to enlarge

Atocha Bar - Top View

 

This is an excellent class factor 1.0 bar with nice strong markings as follows:  left edge - "staff topped with a star" - undocumented owners mark similar to that used by J. Nunez and found only on bars owned by Arriola, left bottom - "monogrammed ARL with diamond above"- L. de Arriola owners mark, the same one used on the example bar image found on every certificate of authenticity, right of the diamond - "1621" - the date the bar was founded at the Potosi mint, top center - "IIIIUCCCXLIIII" - tally number (the 4344th bar founded at the Potosi mint during the year of 1621), middle center below IIIIUCCXLIII - "double-scoop assayers bite" - this style is only found on bars founded in Potosi, bottom center - "IIUCCCLXXX" - silver fineness (2380 out of 2400 or 99.2% pure), bottom right - "V" - the Atocha's silvermaster mark (Jacove de Vreder).  In addition to these markings, this bar has two tax stamps.  This bar is listed as number 576 in the book of "Spanish Treasure Bars from New World Shipwrecks".  The bar is accompanied by the original Certificate of Authenticity issued by Mel Fisher's company, Treasure Salvors Inc., shown above.
 


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