National Geographic : 1965 Jan
The mark "M" on many coins identifies them as products of the Mexico City mint. In the home country these cobs were probably to be reminted into more regular coins. For this reason and because of shipwreck and the scarcity of transport during the War of the Spanish Succession, museums and collectors own few examples of New World cobs from the 1700-1715 period. Single Most Valuable Find Not in Sea During the autumn of 1962, water con ditions went from bad to impossible. Still, we tried. During one short spell of clear wa ter, we struck a vein of silver forks (below). These make an interesting set with our silver dishes. We also found the finial of what may have been a silver pot, cast in the shape of a moth (page 15). One especially bad storm period lasted nearly two months. Since we could not dive, we reverted to our mine detector and began to search the beach again for loose coins. My Up from the chill 20-foot depths, his reward in hand, diver Harry Cannon passes a heavy gold ingot to Bob Johnson aboard the Sampan. nephew, Rex Stocker, took turns with me on the detector. Our electronic beachcombing had produced very little, and I was readjust ing the controls when I heard Rex cry out. "Kip!" He had been above me on the high bluff, digging and screening the loose sand. Now he was hopping on one foot and hold ing something out to me in his hand. Snake? I was sure he had been bitten. "Look!" Rex came running to me. Wrapped around his hand and arm was a glittering gold chain. Rex's "snake" was 11 feet 41/2 inches of finely wrought gold chain made up of 2,176 flower-shaped links, weighing nearly half a pound (page 18). Pendent from the chain is a golden dragon about the size of a man's thumb. From the dragon's belly opens out a gold toothpick; the tail forms an ear-cleaning spoon. When you blow into the half-open mouth, the dragon emits a shrill whistle altogether a very unusual ornament, some thing for the man who has everything. The dragon chain is the single most beautiful and Handmade silverware may have graced the dining table of a captain in the Plate Fleet. Or it may have been part of the cargo, bound for a castle in Spain. One-fifth of all New World treasure-known as the Royal Fifth-went into the King's coffers.