A solid gold chain and an intricate gold-and-enamel spoon are among items pulled from the wreckage of a 400-year-old Spanish galleon that will be auctioned off next month. Nuestra Senora de Atocha went down in a violent hurricane in 1622 near the Florida Keys laden with New World gold while en route to Spain. It was among a fleet of nine ships that were lost at sea; hundreds of people perished, including nobility who brought along their personal jewels. Treasure hunter Mel Fisher searched 16 years for it before discovering the Atocha motherlode in 1985. What he found was the stuff of legends—40 tons of silver and gold, fine Colombian emeralds, and over 1,000 silver bars. On Aug. 5, Guernsey's in New York City will auction 40 select items from the doomed ship. They are said to represent some of Mel and Dorothy Fisher's favorite pieces.
Fisher died in 1998; his wife, Dorothy, died in 2009. They include a spectacular gold chain called a "money chain," which has big links the size of a thumbnail and extends past the waist; it could bring $90,000 to $120,000. Fisher wore it on the "Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" soon after the ship's discovery. The other chain features ornate carved links that come down to the knees, and could sell for $40,000 to $50,000. Other highlights include an intricate gold spoon of Peruvian and Spanish origin, believed to have been used during Communion by priests who sailed to the Americas to convert the natives to Christianity. Also up for auction is the Bezoar Stone, which was believed to remove poisons and toxins from liquids. Click for more on the Nuestra Senora de Atocha treasure auction.