Atlantic wreck yields huge coin haul for Odyssey

ATLANTA Sat May 19, 2007 11:43am EDT

This November, 2003 photo of a Coronet Head 20 Dollar Double Eagle coin, released May 18, 2007, is pictured minutes after it was recovered from the SS Republic shipwreck nearly 1700 feet deep. Coronet Head 10 Dollar Eagles and silver Seated Liberty Half Dollars were also recovered from the site. REUTERS/Copyright 2003 Odyssey Marine Exploration/Handout

This November, 2003 photo of a Coronet Head 20 Dollar Double Eagle coin, released May 18, 2007, is pictured minutes after it was recovered from the SS Republic shipwreck nearly 1700 feet deep. Coronet Head 10 Dollar Eagles and silver Seated Liberty Half Dollars were also recovered from the site.

Credit: Reuters/Copyright 2003 Odyssey Marine Exploration/Handout

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - Half a million silver coins and hundreds of gold coins have been recovered from an Atlantic colonial-era shipwreck in the largest such find of its kind, Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. said on Friday.

The artifacts, which include 17 tonnes of silver coins and worked gold, were legally imported to the United States, the publicly listed U.S. company said in a statement.

The artifacts are being examined and cared for by conservationists at an undisclosed location, the statement said, adding that the first 6,000 silver coins conserved are in remarkable condition.

"The gold coins are almost all dazzling mint state specimens," Odyssey co-founder Greg Stemm said.

Odyssey declined to give any information on the ship's location or name or the place of origin of the coins.

Its shares were up about 57 percent or $2.64 to $7.24 in American Stock Exchange trading on Friday afternoon, after earlier touching $7.50.

The company used archeological protocols and retrieved the haul using advanced robotic technology, it said.

"Our research suggests that there were a number of colonial period shipwrecks that were lost in the area where this site is located, so we are being very cautious about speculating as to the possible identity of the shipwreck," said John Morris, Odyssey's co-founder and chief executive.

"We have treated this site with kid gloves and the archeological work done by our team out there is unsurpassed. We are thoroughly documenting and recording the site, which we believe will have immense historical significance," he said.

Historic shipwrecks are of great interest to marine archeologists because of the information they can yield about seafaring, warfare and social life of the period in which the ship sank. Discoveries of wrecks yielding treasure are rare.

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