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Leocadia, sunk in 1800 off Punta Santa Elena, Ecuador

This wreck, salvaged periodically in the late 20th century, typically yielded portrait (bust) 8 reales from Lima, Peru, but more recent work in 2001 brought up a handful of small silver cobs of the mid- to late 1700s mostly from the Potosí mint. These were probably from a small, private purse and not part of the more than 2 million pesos of registered silver and gold cargo aboard the Leocadia when she departed Paita, Peru, bound for Panama in a convoy of merchant vessels. On November 16, 1800, the Leocadia struck a shoal and broke apart 100 yards from the beach at Punta Santa Elena, with a loss of over 140 lives in the disaster. Within the next year the Spanish salvaged about 90% of the registered treasure, leaving more than 200,000 pesos (not to mention the expected contraband) behind to tempt divers in our time. Judging from the paucity of coins from this ship on the open market, it is reasonable to assume that many more are still to be found.

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