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WIND, WATER, AND COINS

Mother Nature and Coins Share a Long and Illustrious History

PROTECTING COINS FROM DANGER ON THE HIGH SEAS

SS CENTRAL AMERICA PHOTOS COURTESY DONN PEARLMAN.

To those seriously interested in the history of world coins, it must seem that Mother Nature has worked for the destruction of coins as long as they have been in use. Both war and merchant ships went to the bottom of the Mediterranean since ancient times, their sites littered with wine jugs, statuary in shipment, and all the other detritus of commerce of the ancient world.

Such ancient sites have yielded coins, to be sure, but the historical mother lode of numismatic marine treasures has always been the western hemisphere. Christopher Columbus was told by the hospitable Arawak Indians of the Bahamas he met on his first voyages of the roaring, ravening god of violent winds called Hurakan, then met this phenomenon at point blank range as the first hurricane recorded by Europeans ravaged his small fleet.

In 1492, The Roman Catholic Church was still the dominant religious force in Europe, presided over by Pope Alexander VI of the Spanish branch of the house or Borja. After the first Spanish explorations in the West Indies and Central America came Portuguese mariners who claimed the vast domain of Brazil.

To avoid strife, the pope decreed the Line of Demarcation on May 4, 1493, at 100 leagues west of Cape Verde. Territories west of the line were awarded to Spain, those east to Portugal. After the division of Christianity after 1517, this papal division was ignored by French and English explorers and rulers.

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About COINage Magazine

CoinAGE November 2018, Special Edition: Protecting Coins from Danger, Wind, Water & Coins, And More......