How do I know that these coins and artifacts are real?
The number one question on everyone's mind. There are people who manufacture very good replica coins and artifacts out there. Originally coins were struck on crude planchets, many times with crude die. This left irregular but somewhat crisp detail. The edge of the coin might have been cracked or mottled, but there are usually no lines present around the edge. Replica coins are usually made from a lost wax casting process. In casting the surface of the coin may have bubbles in the planchet, the lines of detail may be rounded instead of crisp, there may be mold lines around the edges ( a dead giveaway), and the coin is usually about 10% lighter than a comparable treasure coin might be. There is also "eye appeal". Sometimes you can't say exactly why a coin is phony, but you know it is by the "look". Most dealers wouldn't admit this, but it is true.
Do you guarantee the coins and artifacts that you sell?
Yes. However in 40 years we have only had a handful come back that were questionable. One absolutely fooled me and two other experts. The other was proven to be real. Not bad for 100,000 or more coins. We want you to be satisfied, and we will continue to strive to make that happen!
Did you really know Mel Fisher?
Yes, for over 25 years. I met Mel in the early 70's. He had just relocated to Key West to look for the Atocha. I did all the "tourist" things like having my picture taken with him with a gold chain draped around both our necks, me holding a gold disc and an Atocha silver bar. I never heard Mel raise his voice. He was one of the most unusual people that I have ever met. How he and his wife Deo stood up to the strain of the search for the Atocha, I will never know. I have met a great many famous people in my life. Mel stands right up there as a giant in his field. He stuck to his guns, did it his way and got it done without becoming carried away with being famous. He associated with kings and paupers, and treated everyone equally. A rare trait with celebrities these days.
How important is it to deal with a reliable professional when purchasing a treasure coin?
Would you go to a doctor or lawyer that didn't have any training or experience? We have been selling treasure from around the world for nearly 40 years, with hands on experience on the Mel Fisher wreck coins, having sold more than anyone except the Fisher family. We don't claim to be expert on the individual rarities of the thousands of varieties of coins out there, but WE DO KNOW TREASURE COINS. If you buy from us, you can rest assured that we are backed by 40 years of excellence. Our clients read like a Who's Who of Hollywood, famous Nascar drivers, politicians and the like. This is on top of the great many thousands of people who purchased from us at our stores in Key West, our website and the internet. We have had few complaints in those many years, and the few we had we worked diligently to be sure that the customer was satisfied.
How would you rate your price structure on the coins that you sell?
Great (You would expect me to say that right?) Really, when we had stores in Key West we were the number one seller of all types of treasure coins, most of which were mounted in gold. We had coins from all the famous wrecks including the Atocha. We also had coins from ancient Rome and Greece. We were actually written up in a national publication one year as the best jewelry store in the Florida Keys, and we were a coin shop. We did a lot of specialty one-of-a-kind bezels (we still do) which never made it out to the general public. We always have very fair prices. One day Mel Fisher came in to my shop ( He did that fairly often.), looked around, and said "Tiny (He called me that because that was my nickname as a kid growing up in Key West), you're selling this stuff way to cheap."
Does mounting a coin in silver or gold do any damage to the coin itself?
No. Remember that these coins were crudely made and struck by hand in most cases. Even the later coins that were made with presses were a bit crude compared to today's standards. With the exception of ONE coin, we have never soldered a bezel or bale directly to a coin. We surround the coin in gold, put on prongs to hold it in place, and put a bale at the top. This protects the coin from wear and tear. I see people all the time wearing coins that I sold them 20 years ago. The coins look almost as good as the day they were purchased.
How do I clean my coins?
The easiest way is to dip the coin in water, dip your fingers in water then baking soda and rub the surface of the coin gently with your fingers. This will clean the coin without damaging it if you are not rough. Any commercial silver polish will remove the tarnish, but I wouldn't use it if it is to harsh.
Will my coin increase in value?
I remember the days when we could buy a gold doubloon for $250. Those days are long gone. If you pay the right price initially (very important), your coin should always be worth what you paid for it, and will increase in value over time. This is true for any coin from any wreck or non-wreck.
Will I get a certificate of authenticity?
Yes, every coin that we sell has a certificate of authenticity. In the case of the Atocha, Margarita, 1715 Fleet or some other famous wreck, the certificate will be the one issued by the salvor of the particular wreck. Otherwise the certificate will be one issued by us. The certificate will identify the coin, where it was minted and by whom (if known) and how old it is. In most cases there will be a photograph of the coin as well. The certificate will be hand-signed.
Where do you get the coins that aren't from a famous wreck or may be from ancient Rome or Greece?
Another good question. Although the most famous treasure coins come from famous wrecks that have been salvaged, there were many more coins that made it back to the Old World, or that never left the New World. These coins are found in buried hoards in the mountains of Bolivia, Peru, Mexico and Panama, or they are salvaged from rivers and the ocean around forts of the time. These coins were minted at the same mints and by the same assayers. These coins are generally in a bit better condition because they didn't get any seawear. As for ancient Roman and Greek coins, metal detecting has come a long way in the last 50 years. There are hoards of coins found almost weekly in the Old World which trickle out to the market in America. In addition many of the former "Iron Curtain" countries have divested themselves of collections which were formerly in museums. These are the sources from which we get our coins.