The Intriguing Story Behind the Nuestra Señora de Atocha Coins

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Of the many shipwrecks in history, the Nuestra Señora de Atocha stands out as one of the most important because of its remarkable legacy. This renowned vessel’s tale of loss and rediscovery has captured the imagination of countless adventurers, historians and numismatists alike. Among its treasures, the Atocha shipwreck coins hold a special allure that this piece will explore, delving into:

  • The history of this Spanish galleon.
  • The significance of the coins recovered from the wreck.
  • Answers to collectors’ most frequently asked questions.

Watch this incredible Atocha shipwreck video to further explore the story of this renowned vessel:

Facts about the Nuestra Señora de Atocha shipwreck

From its tragic demise to the modern-day museum dedicated to its legacy, we reveal the captivating details that make the Atocha shipwreck one of the most iconic maritime tales in history.

The Atocha shipwreck history

Launched in 1620 in Havana, Cuba, the Nuestra Señora de Atocha was a formidable vessel tasked with transporting valuable cargo from the New World back to Europe as part of Spain’s treasure fleet. With a hull measuring approximately 34 meters in length, it was among the largest ships of its time.

In 1622, the Atocha was assigned the responsibility of serving as the rear guard ship, or ‘almiranta’, of a 28-ship fleet on a voyage from Cuba to Spain. Laden with gold, silver, jewels, and other precious commodities sourced from the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean, it was charged with protecting the fleet’s rear from attacks or other threats encountered along the journey.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans, and the Nuestra Señora de Atocha was never to fulfill its mission of delivering its riches to the Spanish Crown. Tragically, the Spanish treasure galleon’s journey met a catastrophic end when it encountered a powerful hurricane off the coast of the Florida Keys. The relentless storm battered the ship mercilessly, causing it to founder and sink, claiming the lives of most of its 265 crew and passengers amidst the tempestuous seas, and scattering its precious cargo across the ocean floor.

For centuries, the Atocha shipwreck story remained shrouded in mystery beneath the depths of the sea. It wasn’t until the 20th century that its legend sparked the interest of treasure hunters, with countless expeditions attempting to locate its fabled fortune.

In 1985, after years of tireless searching, Mel Fisher and his team made history when they finally discovered the Atocha’s resting place. The subsequent salvage operation was a monumental undertaking, revealing a trove of gold, silver, jewels, and artifacts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Atocha Shipwreck










Photo by Marine Insight

The Atocha shipwreck location map

Situated off the coast of the Florida Keys, the Atocha’s resting place lies approximately 35 miles southwest of Key West. The shipwreck is submerged in the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico, nestled amidst the vibrant marine life of the area’s coral reefs.

The coordinates for the Atocha (24 degrees 31.5 feet North Latitude and 82 degrees 20 feet West Longitude) mark the exact spot where Mel Fisher and his team discovered the long-lost treasure trove in 1985. Researchers and enthusiasts can explore the precise location of the Atocha shipwreck using the detailed information provided on an Atocha wreck site map.










Approximate location of the Atocha shipwreck (indicated by a red circle)

Map by Florida Memory

The Atocha shipwreck depth

The Atocha shipwreck rests at a depth of approximately 55 feet (16.8 meters) below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. This depth places the wreckage within accessible range for divers and researchers, allowing for exploration and study of the site’s historical significance.

Despite being submerged for centuries, the relatively shallow depth has also facilitated the preservation of the Atocha’s remnants, including its cargo and structural elements.

The Atocha shipwreck pictures

From close-up shots of artifacts to panoramic views of the underwater landscape, pictures of the Atocha shipwreck offer a unique perspective on its legacy.

shipwreck images








Photos by Florida Keys Me

The Atocha shipwreck museum

Located in Key West, Florida, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, unofficially known as the Atocha shipwreck museum, provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the world of maritime archaeology and the story of Mel Fisher’s legendary quest.

Exhibits within the museum showcase artifacts recovered from the Atocha wreckage, including gold and silver bars, jewelry, pottery, and navigational instruments. Through interactive displays, immersive exhibits, and informative presentations, visitors can delve into the intricacies of the Atocha’s journey, its tragic fate, and the extraordinary efforts to recover its treasures from the depths of the sea.

Authentic Atocha coins

Unlike the SS Gairsoppa, where no coins were recovered, the discovery of the Atocha yielded a treasure trove of coins valued at an estimated total of hundreds millions of dollars. The salvaged Atocha coins, minted across the Spanish colonial period, present a varied collection of numismatic examples that encapsulate centuries of New World trade and commerce.

Atocha gold coins

1 Escudo Carlos and Juana Atocha shipwreck coin

Among the recovered Nuestra Señora de Atocha coins, one stands out as particularly noteworthy: a 1537 gold Carlos and Juana escudo. Holding a special place in numismatic history, this coin, produced at the Seville Mint during the joint reign of Charles I of Spain and his mother Joanna of Castile, marks the introduction of the escudo denomination in 1535/1537.

1 Escudo Carlos and Juana

  • Metal: Gold
  • Year: 1537

Escudo Carlos and Juana Atocha shipwreck coin







Burgos Mint 1 Escudo Carlos and Juana Atocha wreck coin

Another significant find among the shipwreck Atocha coins is the gold Carlos and Juana escudo minted by the Burgos Mint. While it was common practice for Spanish mainland mints to create currency for use in the colonies, Burgos’s production was comparatively limited, making its coins highly sought-after pieces by collectors.

1 Escudo Carlos and Juana

  • Metal: Gold
  • Year: Before 1545

Burgos Mint 1 Escudo Carlos and Juana Atocha wreck coin







2 Escudos Philip II Atocha gold coin

2 Escudos coins, also known as doubloons, derived from the Spanish word “doblón” meaning double, were a revered currency during the New World conquest. This particular one was minted during the era of Philip II, the first official king of a united Spain. Even though the mint and assayer are not explicitly visible on it, its design and characteristics align with coins produced by the Seville Mint during this period, adding to its immense historical significance among Atocha coins.

2 Escudos Philip II

  • Metal: Gold
  • Year: Before 1598

2 Escudos Philip II







Atocha silver coins

Mexico Mint 2 reales Carlos and Juana Atocha silver coin

Minted circa 1556 at the Mexico Mint, this 2 reales coin holds significant value as the smallest denomination discovered on the shipwreck, making it a great find for those seeking Atocha coins for sale. Additionally, it stands as one of the earliest examples of coinage from the Americas, with the Mexico Mint pioneering coin production in the region in 1536.

2 reales Carlos and Juana (Assayer O)

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: 1556

Mexico Mint 2 reales Carlos and Juana Atocha silver coin







Mexico Mint 8 reales Philip III authentic Atocha coin

Made to commemorate the reign of Philip III, this stunning Atocha shipwreck treasure 8 reales coin from the Mexico Mint showcases the Shield of the Habsburgs of Spain on the obverse and the Cross of Jerusalem on the reverse. The presence of Assayer A’s mark indicates it was minted during the tenure of Antonio de Morales, dating it to the years 1608 and 1609.

8 reales Philip III (Assayer A)

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: 1608 – 1609

8 reales Philip III (Assayer A)






Lima Mint 2 reales Philip II Atocha 1622 coin

This 2 reales 1622 Atocha coin, struck in the Peruvian capital during the reign of Philip II, showcases a crowned coat of arms on the obverse and crosses with lions and castles on the reverse. Its association with the short-lived Assayer Xines Martinez (X) makes it a highly sought-after piece among collectors.

2 reales Philip II (Assayer X)

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: 1572 – 1573

2 reales Philip II (Assayer X)







Lima Mint 8 reales Philip II Atocha ship coin

Also crafted during the reign of Philip II of Spain, this beautiful 8 reales coin from Lima boasts an elaborate obverse featuring the numeral “VIII”, along symbols representing the mint, coat of arms, and assayer. Its reverse displays a design of lions and castles within the quarters of a cross, making it a desirable Atocha coin for sale to collectors.

8 reales Philip II (Assayer D)

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: Between 1580 and 1588

8 reales Philip II (Assayer D)







Potosí Mint 8 reales Philip II Nuestra Señora de Atocha coin

Minted in Potosí, nestled in the Andes Mountains of present-day Bolivia, this 8 reales coin features the effigy of Philip II and the mark of Assayer B. This coin holds exceptional significance as one of the first minted in Potosí, using dies from Lima, making it one of the most extraordinary shipwreck coins Atocha has to offer to numismatists.

8 reales Philip II (Assayer B)

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: 1575

8 reales Philip II (Assayer B)







Potosí Mint 8 reales Philip IV real Atocha coin

Also crafted at the Potosí Mint, a significant minting center during the Spanish colonial era in an area renowned for its vast silver mines, this 8 reales coin bears the effigy of Philip IV and the mark of Assayer T. A captivating artifact, its unearthing enriches the legacy of the Atocha shipwreck treasure.

8 reales Philip IV (Assayer T)

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: 1622

8 reales Philip IV (Assayer T)







Santa Fe de Bogotá 4 reales Nuestra Señora de Atocha silver coin

Among the most remarkable coins from the Atocha shipwreck is this 4 reales coin dated 1622. Initially shrouded in mystery with its mint of origin uncertain and lacking visible assayer marks, its significance became apparent when the coat-of-arms of Granada was recognized, linking it to the insignia of Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia.

4 reales

  • Metal: Silver
  • Year: 1622

4 reales







For a selection of unique rarities, beyond Atocha treasure coins for sale, click here.

FAQ about the Atocha coin treasure

Here are the answers to people’s most common questions about the Atocha shipwreck and its treasures.

Where was the Atocha shipwreck found?

The Atocha wreck location was identified approximately 35 miles southwest of Key West, Florida, within the Gulf of Mexico’s waters.

Who found the Atocha shipwreck?

Mel Fisher and his team discovered the Atocha shipwreck in 1985 after years of dedicated searching and exploration efforts.

How deep is the Atocha shipwreck?

The underwater Atocha shipwreck rests at a depth of approximately 55 feet (16.8 meters) below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

What is an Atocha coin?

An Atocha coin refers to a coin recovered from the Atocha shipwreck, typically minted in Spain or its colonies during the colonial era. The Atocha coin meaning extends beyond its monetary value, embodying a rich historical significance due to its association with the legendary Spanish galleon.

Are Atocha coins a good investment?

Investing in Atocha coins can be lucrative, with their value steadily increasing over time. As historical artifacts with limited availability, Atocha coins going up in value make them an appealing investment option for collectors and enthusiasts alike.

The Atocha coins, with their rich history and intrinsic value, represent a unique opportunity for collectors and investors alike. For those seeking to invest in rare coins, Blanchard offers a comprehensive selection. Contact Blanchard with inquiries about the Atocha coin price and more and embark on your numismatic journey today.

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