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Shipwreck Found Off Coast of Namibia
May 01, 2008

Spanish Gold & Potuguese Silver in Shipwreck Find

The Namdeb Diamond Corp., a joint venture of De Beers and the Nambian Government, has discovered gold and silver coins in a 500 year old shipwreck located off the coast of Namibia. They suspect that the ship may be connected to Bartolomeu Dias, the famed Portuguese explorer who was the first European to navigate the Cape of Good Hope.

There are archaeologists and geologists involved in the recovery, so things should proceed correctly and without damage to the artifacts, which include navigational astrolabes, copper ingots, ivory tusks, pewter tableware, weapons, cannons and more. The Southern Africa Institute of Maritime Archaeological Research has Bruno Werz on hand to assist and Dieter Noli, their chief archaeologist, seems to running the show. Noli has ideas about the wreck. He thinks the copper found on board and the ivory would indicate official business, perhaps of the Portuguese government. The copper may have been acquired for use in making cannons.

Both Spain and Portugal have been notified by Namdeb and further progress is awaiting approvals and agreements between these prominent parties. Namdeb will probably be looking for additional expert support from both governments, but Noli seems to have matters well in hand.

A huge amount of ivory, mostly in the form of elephant tusks was also discovered with the wreck. Early reports indicate that coins in the wreck may number in the thousands and there were about 50 elephant tusks. At least two astrolabes were present at the wreck site, a great find for Werz, as his picture indicates.

Namibia has an area known as the Skeleton Coast, where many shipwrecks have occured over the years. It's a great place to survey if you are into shipwrecks or maritime history.

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About the Author
Tom Michael has been Krause Publications primary market analyst on more than 80 world and United States coin catalogs produced over the last 20 years. He came to KP in 1987 with a bachelor of arts degree in history, a master of arts degree in economics and a history of coin collecting stretching back to the 1960s. He began collecting world coins as a child by asking friends and relatives to bring coins back from overseas trips, visiting flea markets and having his mother watch for foreign coins in her register at the local grocery store. Today he works with a dedicated base of over 200 contributors to provide accurate market values for the five-volume Standard Catalog of World Coins series, as well as many specialty catalogs, including Coins & Currency of the Middle East and the fifth edition of Unusual World Coins.

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