Concepción, sunk in 1641 off the northeast coast of Hispaniola
The Concepción was one of
the most significant Spanish wrecks of all time, serving the
Spanish with a loss of over 100 tons of silver and gold
treasure. The almiranta of a 21-ship fleet, the
Concepción was already in poor repair when the Europe-bound
fleet encountered a storm in September, leaving her disabled and
navigating under makeshift sails amid disagreement among its
pilots about their location. Weeks later, she grounded on a reef
in an area now named the Silver Shoals, just to the east of
another shoal known as the Abrojos, which the pilots were trying
to avoid. After another storm hit the wrecked ship and the
admiral and officers left in the ship’s only longboat, the
remaining crew resorted to building rafts from the ship’s
timbers. Survivors’ accounts pointed to drowning, starvation and
even sharks for the loss of around 300 casualties. In the
fallout that ensued, none of the survivors could report the
wreck’s location with accuracy, so it sat undisturbed until New
England’s William Phipps found it in 1687 and brought home tons
of silver and some gold, to the delight of his English backers.
The Concepción was found
again in 1978 by Burt Webber, Jr., whose divers recovered some
60,000 silver cobs, mostly Mexican 8 and 4 reales but also some
Potosí and rare Colombian cobs (including more from the
Cartagena mint than had been found on any other shipwreck).
Unlike the Maravillas of just 15 years later, however,
the Concepción did not give up any gold cobs in our time,
and any significant artifacts found were retained by the
government of the Dominican Republic, who oversaw the salvage.
The bulk of the silver cobs found on the Concepción were
heavily promoted, even in department stores! The site is still
being worked from time to time with limited success.
For related items visit our Fixed-Price Catalog
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