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Why Do Shipwreck Coins Last a Long Time?

Recently, some deep-sea treasure hunters announced the discovery of a shipwreck with over 15 tons of Colonial-era coins worth over $500 million. The crew’s sponsors haven’t told where in the Atlantic they found the cache or which ship had all that loot. Though, they did note that the silver and gold coins were in good condition.

The exact location of the shipwreck is unknown where the coins were found.

What affects the quality of shipwreck coins?

Where the ship goes down and what sort of metal the coins are made of. Coins that have been submerged for hundreds of years can end up being corroded, scratched, worn down, covered by sea life or lime deposits, or destroyed by acid conditions.

The warm waters of the tropics and the Caribbean will create most of the damage since warmer temps accelerate oxidation and corrosion. Also, these waters are the hosts for coral and micro-organisms that can encrust the coins, reducing their value, typically permanently. Cooler northern seas, such as the ones off the coast of England, where some think this treasure was uncovered, are more likely to aid in keeping all types of coins looking good.

Also, conditions on the seafloor make a huge difference. A muddy bottom could help sustain coins by enclosing and protecting them. Though, an environment of swirling sand can wear down markings and designs and cause scratches.

The depth of the wreck also is critical. Deep waters usually have weaker currents. So, the sand at the bottom doesn’t swirl around too much. Though, in some cases, sand can be a good thing. In 1857, The S.S. Central America sank amid calcium carbonate sands that aided in making the surrounding water slightly alkaline, keeping possible damaging acidity at bay. As a result, the ship’s coins were near-pristine when they were found in 1987.

 



Coins on a Gravestone: What it Means

Have you come across a gravestone covered in coins? It’s not unusual while visiting a cemetery to see the stones covered in various coins. So, what’s up with that?

Based on the legend, the coin left is usually on the gravestones of U.S. military veterans. Visitors who want to show their respect leave coins on the headstones in various amounts. It shows their loved ones of the soldier’s family that someone has visited the grave.

Leaving a penny denotes you visited and is thanking the veteran for their service. A nickel signifies you trained at boot camp with the deceased. A dime indicates you served with him or her. A quarter denotes you were with the soldier when they died.

Turns out leaving coins on a grave is a sign of respect.

The beginning of the tradition is up for debate. Though, many folks believe it began in the US during the Vietnam War. America was in a crisis of conscience. Any discussion of the war typically devolved into a more serious discussion about politics. Leaving a coin was a way to say you appreciate the soldier’s service while avoiding an inevitable uncomfortable conversation.

Just a legend?

That’s the theory. Keeping it real, leaving coins on gravestones goes back to just 2009. The money is typically collected and donated to the cemetery’s upkeep and possible burial costs.

But humans have left tributes and artifacts at gravesites for hundreds of years. Based on Greek mythology, during the Roman empire, fellow soldiers would put a coin into the mouth of a fallen soldier to make sure they could cross the River Styx into the afterlife.

However, one United States tradition is the leaving of “challenge coins” on military headstones by fellow veterans. These coins typically have the emblem of the deceased’s military company or unit. Fellow soldiers leave them to pay tribute to them and their family members.




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