Odyssey Awards Exclusive Contract to NGC and NCS
Tens of thousands of gold and silver United States coins are being recovered from the shipwreck of the SS Republic in what could prove to be the most valuable coin collection ever to come to market. Archaeological excavation of the Republic is currently being conducted by Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa, Florida. Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS) and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) have been awarded an exclusive contract to perform conservation, grading and encapsulation of these coins for the numismatic market.
The SS Republic was a sidewheel steamship that foundered in a hurricane while enroute from New York to New Orleans in 1865. Reportedly carrying $400,000 in gold specie when she sank off the coast of Georgia to a depth of 1700 feet, Republic is being carefully excavated under the direction of Odyssey’s project archaeologist, Neil Cunningham Dobson. The coins are receiving exceptionally gentle treatment, each piece being lifted from the sea bed with a specially designed, soft silicone limpet to preserve their delicate surfaces.
Among the coins already retrieved are numerous gold eagles, gold double eagles and silver half dollars, nearly all dating between the early 1850s and 1865. Unlike other recently salvaged shipwrecks, a wide variety of dates and mints have been noted in this find. Based on the pieces recovered thus far that have been professionally conserved by Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS) and graded and encapsulated by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), this collection may already include several finest-known examples of United States gold and silver coins from the period.
“NGC and NCS are extremely pleased and proud to have been chosen as the exclusive conservation and grading service by Odyssey Marine Exploration,” stated NGC Chairman and CEO Mark Salzberg. “This find is a numismatic treasure of extreme historical importance. The SS Republic was bringing assistance and commerce to the war-torn South immediately following the Civil War. The cache of coins being retrieved from this site is already revealing classic rarities as well as condition-census items. As the official conservation and grading services of the American Numismatic Association, we look forward to providing the finest services available not only to Odyssey Marine Exploration but to all collectors who will enjoy these treasures for generations to come.”
NCS has already conserved a number of the coins from SS Republic, and these have initially revealed a mix of dates and conditions. “This is truly a remarkable find. This collection of coins, after conservation, will offer something for everyone,” says David Camire, NCS Vice President. “So far our conservation has revealed a mix of dates for both $10 and $20 gold pieces and Seated Halves. The variety and condition of the coins is astounding. We have already discovered what we believe to be a previously unknown misplaced date variety.”
It’s estimated that it may take several months to complete the recovery of SS Republic’s numismatic treasure, with both NCS and NGC devoting their combined resources to the conservation and certification of these coins. From the beginning of the recovery expedition, National Geographic Television & Film has been documenting Odyssey’s archaeological excavation of the SS Republic in association with JWM Productions, LLC. This footage is being prepared for broadcast on a special “Dateline NBC” and for “National Geographic Ultimate Explorer” on MSNBC in 2004, with additional coverage later in 2004 in a National Geographic Special on PBS.
Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (Amex: OMR) is a public company founded by deep-ocean shipwreck pioneers John Morris and Greg Stemm. The company specializes in shipwreck search, recovery and marketing on a worldwide basis, combining cutting-edge technology with extensive research and sound archaeological practices.
“After careful deliberation and due diligence, we are pleased to have chosen Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS) and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) as the exclusive conservation and grading services for this historic event,” said John Morris, Odyssey co-founder and CEO. “The fact that these companies are the official services of the American Numismatic Association, coupled with their complete, hands-off, independent standing within the numismatic community, made this choice an easy one. We look forward to presenting these historic coins to the numismatic world in NGC and NCS holders.”
Odyssey’s decision was based both on the status of NCS and NGC as the ANA’s official conservation and grading services and the two companies’ unique ability to handle the Republic coins from raw material to finished product. Only NCS and NGC have the skilled professionals already on staff to determine proper conservation techniques for revealing the beauty of these coins and stabilizing their surfaces for long-term preservation, as well as to establish their correct condition grade for ultimate placement with collectors. NCS and NGC combined are a complete numismatic service organization: NCS is the only professional conservation service specializing in coins and other numismatic items, while NGC is the largest independent coin grading service in the world, having certified more than ten million collectable coins.
More detailed information about the discovery and salvage of SS Republic, as well as a number of photographs, may be found at Odyssey Marine Exploration’s website, www.shipwreck.net. As the project develops, NCS will highlight some of the coins with before and after photographs on its own website, www.NCSCoin.com.