A rare U.S. gold coin struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1857 and recovered five years ago from a world famous California Gold Rush shipwreck set a record price for any 1857 San Francisco Mint $20 denomination gold coin. It was sold for $282,000 in a public auction in New Orleans, Louisiana conducted by Legend Rare Coin Auctions of Lincoft, New Jersey on May 16, 2019.

The coin was recovered in 2014 from the S.S. Central America, the fabled “Ship of Gold,” that sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 1857. The Supernova was discovered on the ocean floor among piles and stacks of coins that originally were in boxes of Double Eagles being shipped to New York by San Francisco businesses.

Described by Legend President Laura Sperber as “the most beautifully and amazingly colorful toned gold coin we have ever seen,” the sunken treasure Double Eagle was independently graded Mint State 67 (on a 1 to 70 scale) by Professional Coin Grading Service.

“Because it has amazing blasts of colors, we named it Supernova after something truly cosmic,” said Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group (CGMG) which consigned the coin to Legend. 

The previous record price for any 1857-S $20 gold piece sold at auction was $152,750 in 2014. That coin also was recovered from the S.S. Central America.

“The Supernova now is part of the Black Cat Collection, a world class set of coins being built exclusively by Legend. The collection’s owner adores the color and the romance of this coin because it is real California Gold Rush treasure that was recovered from more than 7,000 feet under the sea after 157 years,” said Sperber.

Orange County-based California Gold Marketing Group acquired all the sunken treasure brought up in 2014 from Ira Owen Kane, Receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership and Columbus Exploration, LLC in a court-approved transaction. CGMG earlier acquired all of the available treasure that was recovered in the late 1980s.

The S.S. Central Americasank in a hurricane in September 1857 off the coast of North Carolina while carrying tons of California Gold Rush coins and gold ingots. There were 578 passengers and crew on board, but only 153 survived.