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Guadalupe-Tolosa, sunk in 1724 in Samaná Bay, Dominican Republic

Inbound from Spain and often referred to as the “quicksilver galleons,” these two ships were carrying a cargo of 400 tons of mercury, a critical element in the silver- and gold-refining process in Mexico, where these ships were headed. In late August the ships were blown by a hurricane into Samaná Bay on the northeast coast of what is now the Dominican Republic and wrecked there in relatively close proximity to each other (about 7½ miles), which is why their names are intermingled today. More than 500 people died in the tragedy. The wrecks were discovered and salvaged in the late 1970s and yielded many earthenware olive jars and other artifacts in addition to the mercury. In 2005 it became known that the 1970s salvage also turned up a small group of gold coins (including 13 cobs from the mints of Bogotá, Cuzco, Lima and Mexico), which were auctioned that same year.

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