Shortly after beginning the archaeological excavation in November 2003, gold coins were discovered at the stern of the ship, near the ship’s rudder.
Using a proprietary Sediment Removal and Filtration (SeRF) system on the ROV, sand was carefully removed from the site revealing a dazzling 'carpet of gold' hidden on the ocean floor for nearly 140 years.
More than 51,000 gold and silver coins were recovered from the seabed, including numerous $20.00 Double Eagles, $10.00 Eagles, silver half dollars and even a few silver quarter dollars each coin individually retrieved by the silicone limpet device attached to the ROV’s manipulator arm.
All of the coins were professionally conserved by Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS) and graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). Unlike other recently salvaged shipwrecks, a wide variety of dates and mints ranging from the 1840s to 1865 were documented in this remarkable hoard including many of the finest-known examples of United States gold and silver coins from the period and highly collectible today.
In addition to its extraordinary cargo of gold coins, the Republic’s treasure yielded some exceptionally unique silver half dollars and provided an unprecedented opportunity for numismatic research.
In 1861, three different governments (the United States Government, the Louisiana government and the Confederacy) had control of the New Orleans Mint and struck silver half dollars there. Due to the large number of 1861-O Liberty Seated half dollars found on the Republic, coin experts were finally able to determine which coins were minted by each government by analyzing the subtle variations caused by the use of different dies. This research was published in the Gobrecht Journal in November 2006 and for the first time ever has allowed 1861-O Seated Liberty half dollars to be certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation as being minted by each of the three governments operating in Louisiana in 1861. After thorough documentation and reserving a representative sample for the permanent collection, these historic coins available to collectors as individual coins or in a set representing all three minting governments in the New Orleans Mint Three Government Set.
A full set of 1861-O half dollars containing all 17 die variations is currently on display with 28 other rare coins from the Republic at the Louisiana State Museum located in the old U.S. Mint where the coins were originally minted.
Also aboard the Republic were stunningly preserved silver half dollars struck in the North by the U.S. Philadelphia Mint. These were found on the wreck site laying side by side with equally remarkable silver halves struck in the South’s New Orleans Mint. Together they symbolize the mighty struggle that divided the country in 1865, and today they make up an impressive Civil War Blue & Gray 1861 Half-Dollar Collection.
Coins from the Republic are available for purchase through Monaco Rare Coins.
The archaeological reports The Nature Of Encrustation on Coins from the Wreck of the Republic (2013) and The SS Republic Excavation Project: The Coin Collection (2009) both provide more details about the collection.