Top-5 Discoveries from the SS Gairsoppa: Silver Bars, Coins and More

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Throughout history, hidden gems often emerge in the aftermath of significant historical events. A prime example lies in shipwrecks, like the SS Gairsoppa. This ill-fated vessel became a testament to an intriguing chapter for coin and history enthusiasts alike. Investigating the findings following the ship’s sinking, this article explores the iconic SS Gairsoppa silver coins and bars born from the discoveries made, focusing on:

  • The SS Gairsoppa’s dramatic history.
  • A comprehensive catalog of the ship’s silver findings.
  • Where to source salvaged SS Gairsoppa silver.

Watch this incredible video for an in-depth look into the Gairsoppa wreck:

Still YouTube video image of SS Gairsoppa recovery







A brief history of the S S Gairsoppa shipwreck

The SS Gairsoppa was a British cargo steamship. Commissioned in 1919, it was initially operated by the British India Steam Navigation Company. Its construction, with a gross tonnage of approximately 5,237 tons, reflected the maritime standards of its era. The vessel, with a sleek length of 412 feet and a substantial breadth of 53 feet, embodied both elegance and functionality.

The Gairsoppa began its maritime journey serving as a merchant vessel. For over two decades, it traversed the seas, transporting cargo and passengers between ports, significantly contributing to the global commerce of its time.

As the clouds of World War II gathered, the Gairsoppa found itself conscripted into service under the British Ministry of War Transport. Its role evolved from that of a commercial vessel to a vital cog in the war effort, tasked with transporting essential supplies, including iron ore, from India to Britain.

In February 1941, the SS Gairsoppa set sail from Calcutta, India, as part of a convoy bound for Liverpool, England. Sailing as part of a group of vessels, navigating together for mutual protection, was a common wartime practice to ensure safe passage across the treacherous North Atlantic.

However, misfortune struck when adverse weather conditions forced the Gairsoppa to veer off course, inadvertently separating it from the convoy’s protective shield. Alone and vulnerable, the vessel fell victim to a German U-boat lurking beneath the turbulent waves, the U-101, commanded by Captain Ernst Mengersen. A torpedo fired by the U-boat found its mark, and the Gairsoppa succumbed to the icy depths of the Atlantic, approximately 300 miles southwest of Ireland.

The sinking claimed the lives of the majority of the crew, with only one survivor, Second Officer Richard Ayres, managing to endure the harsh conditions of the open sea and reach the Irish coast after days adrift on a lifeboat. Despite Ayres’ survival, the fate of the Gairsoppa remained shrouded in mystery for decades, lost in the vast expanse of the ocean. It wasn’t until the early 21st century that the ship’s story experienced a resurgence, sparking renewed interest and exploration, particularly in the realm of Gairsoppa salvage, as the wreckage was discovered and efforts were made to recover valuable cargo from the ocean depths.

In 2010, a team led by the American exploration company Odyssey Marine Exploration located the wreckage of the Gairsoppa at a depth of nearly 15,000 feet. The discovery reignited interest in the ship’s history, shedding light on the circumstances surrounding its demise and the valuable cargo it carried, namely an estimated 7 million ounces of SS Gairsoppa shipwreck silver. This revelation sparked a salvage operation, marking one of the deepest and most challenging recovery efforts in maritime history.

SS Gairsoppa










Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

Gairsoppa silver recovery

The recovery of the SS Gairsoppa’s silver from the ocean bottom was a formidable undertaking that required cutting-edge technology and meticulous planning. The first step in the recovery process involved the utilization of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) equipped with advanced sonar and imaging technology. These ROVs descended to the ocean floor, providing a detailed survey of the wreckage site. This crucial step allowed the salvage team to assess the condition of the ship and the distribution of the cargo, particularly the S.S. Gairsoppa shipwreck silver that held historical and monetary significance.

Upon completion of the survey, the salvage team employed specialized robotic arms attached to the ROVs for the delicate task of lifting the silver from the ocean bottom. The challenging underwater conditions, marked by extreme pressure and darkness, necessitated precision and expertise in maneuvering the robotic arms to handle the valuable metal.

To ensure the safe recovery of the vessel’s silver cargo, Odyssey Marine Exploration implemented state-of-the-art techniques for retrieval. The use of specialized equipment, such as specially designed baskets and containers, facilitated the careful lifting of the precious metal from the ocean floor. These containers were then secured to the ROVs and slowly hoisted to the surface, minimizing the risk of damage to the valuable cargo during ascent.

The recovered silver, totaling millions of ounces, marked a historic achievement in maritime salvage. Found in the form of large ingots rather than Gairsoppa coins, these substantial pieces of silver added to the complexity of the salvage operation. The Gairsoppa silver’s extraction from the ocean depths not only brought closure to the story of the iconic vessel but also showcased the capabilities of modern underwater exploration and recovery technology.

Gairsoppa coins









Photo by Postal Museum

SS Gairsoppa silver bar findings

The silver recovered from the Gairsoppa shipwreck took the form of large ingots. More specifically, a total of 2,792 silver bars, each containing nearly 1,100 ounces of .999 pure silver, were salvaged. Today, collectors and silver investors keen on possessing a tangible piece of maritime history can acquire the following SS Gairsoppa silver bars.

1. Original SS Gairsoppa 1000 oz bar

Remarkably, contemporary silver collectors have the unique opportunity to acquire original ingots salvaged from the SS Gairsoppa, forging a tangible link to the wartime era. Among the 2,792 silver ingots recovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration, a select 462 were made available to the public, transforming them into authentic and coveted rarities.

Minted at His Majesty’s Mint in Bombay, each original Gairsoppa silver bar is distinguished by a unique serial number and the official stamp “HM Mint Bombay,” echoing the craftsmanship of a bygone era. While the ingots do not feature a date on them, their estimated production date falls between 1829 and 1919, i.e. the dates of the HM Mint Bombay’s operation.

A particularly intriguing facet of these large bars is the discrepancy in their marked and actual weight. Although stamped as 1,041.1 ounces, the average “SS Gairsoppa silver ingot 1000 oz” has a slightly lesser recovered weight, resulting from the impact of corrosion during the silver bars’ prolonged submersion in the ocean. This natural consequence, common in shipwreck recoveries, contributes to their deeply toned condition, enhancing their authentic charm. Collectors appreciate this nuanced history, reinforcing the allure of these Gairsoppa ingots as genuine artifacts from a significant maritime chapter.

S.S. Gairsoppa Shipwreck 1,036.6 Ounce Ingot

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: Between 1829 – 1919

S.S. Gairsoppa Shipwreck 1,036.6 Ounce Ingot








Photo by Great Collections

2. 10 oz Gairsoppa silver bar

Crafted as a tribute to the significance of the historic vessel, commemorative SS Gairsoppa 10 oz silver bars were made from the remaining 2,330 ingots that were not distributed to the public, offering a unique and affordable silver investment opportunity.

Meticulously produced by Sunshine Minting, a reputable private mint, each of these bars encapsulates approximately 10 ounces of .999 pure silver and bears distinctive markings attesting to its special origin. On one side, the “Gairsoppa silver bar 10 oz features an intricate engraving of the SS Gairsoppa along the date of the shipwreck. On the other, it bears a detailed stamp indicating its weight and certification as recovered GAIRSOPPA silver. Combining a unique fusion of historical context, craftsmanship and intrinsic value, these bars constitute a prized addition to any collector’s portfolio.

10 oz. S.S. Gairsoppa Commemorative Bar

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: 2013

10 oz. S.S. Gairsoppa Commemorative Bar









To explore a broader array of silver options, beyond the offerings of Gairsoppa silver bars for sale, browse Blanchard’s extensive silver selection here.

SS Gairsoppa silver coin commemoratives

Unlike other famous shipwrecks, the Gairsoppa ship yielded no coins in its recovered cargo. However, following its legendary salvage operation, commemorative coins were produced to honor the historic vessel. These numismatic treasures stand as enduring tributes to the SS Gairsoppa’s unique legacy and are cherished by collectors looking for SS Gairsoppa shipwreck silver for sale.

1. 2013 50p Britannia – SS Gairsoppa silver coin

Shortly after Odyssey Marine Exploration’s salvage operation, the Royal Mint decided to issue commemorative SS Gairsoppa coins. The 2013 50p Britannia is a limited edition coin crafted with precision, featuring a quarter-ounce of pure .999 silver recovered from the sunken vessel. Its iconic obverse design by Philip Nathan showcases Britannia standing proudly with a shield, symbolizing the resilience of the British spirit. On the reverse, Ian Rank Broadley’s portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II graces the coin.

Weighing 7.86 grams and measuring 22.00 mm in diameter, this SS Gairsoppa Royal Mint bullion coin bears a unique inscription, “S.S. Gairsoppa,” on its rim, paying homage to the ship and its crew. Limited in mintage and finished to the Royal Mint’s exacting standards, it serves as a tangible connection to the maritime history of the SS Gairsoppa, making it a prized addition to numismatic collections worldwide.

2013 50p Britannia – SS Gairsoppa

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: 2013

2013 50p Britannia - SS Gairsoppa







Photo by PCGS

2. 2014 50p Britannia – SS Gairsoppa coin

Following the success of the 2013 Britannia 50p Gairsoppa coin, the Royal Mint continued this numismatic tribute in 2014. This limited edition coin, also weighing one quarter of an ounce of pure .999 silver recovered from the Gairsoppa shipwreck, features the iconic design of Britannia by Philip Nathan and Ian Rank Broadley’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II as well.

When paired with the preceding year’s coin, Gairsoppa coins for sale offer collectors a compelling narrative of historical significance and artistic elegance, enhancing the completeness of a numismatic collection.

2014 50p Britannia – SS Gairsoppa

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: 2014

2014 50p Britannia - SS Gairsoppa










Photo by PCGS

3. 1 oz S.S. Gairsoppa shipwreck silver round

First manufactured in 2014 by the Sunshine Mint in the United States, the Gairsoppa 1 oz silver round was also struck from silver salvaged from the Gairsoppa. A strikingly beautiful piece, it features a unique obverse design of the iconic ship cruising on calm waters, with a bright silver finish accentuating the scene and contrasting darker areas adding depth. Its reverse displays inscriptions for weight and purity, including “Certified Shipwreck Silver” around the central “Gairsoppa”, making it a prized collector’s item for those seeking an authentic Gairsoppa shipwreck silver round.

1 oz. S.S. Gairsoppa Shipwreck Round

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: 2014

1 oz. S.S. Gairsoppa Shipwreck Round







Photo by Canadian Coin Blog

Read why securing your own Gairsoppa silver becomes a compelling investment, as silver trends upward according to experts.

Where to buy historically valuable silver coins and bars

The storied legacy of the S.S. Gairsoppa and the precious silver recovered from its depths offer not just historical value but a tangible investment in the enduring value of precious metals. To embark on this journey of acquiring a piece of SS Gairsoppa silver bars for sale, consider using Blanchard. The company’s unparalleled expertise, commitment to customer satisfaction, and comprehensive guidance make Blanchard a trusted and outstanding choice for navigating the intricate world of precious metals and rare coins. Contact Blanchard’s team of experts to explore the world of Gairsoppa shipwreck silver and other historic silver, where every piece tells a captivating tale and holds the potential for lasting investment value.

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