They Were Searching the Sand. The Metal Detectors Went Crazy

Florida men find 22 silver coins from 1715 shipwreck, could be worth $7K
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2020 11:00 AM CST

(Newser) – They set to work with metal detectors on Florida's appropriately named Treasure Coast and are now the proud owners of 22 silver coins thought to be 300 years old. Jonah Martinez, who's been hunting treasure in South Florida for 24 years, says he and fellow treasure hunter Cole Smith were combing the sand at Wabasso Beach on Feb. 21 when their metal detectors began signaling one find after another, per WPEC and WPTV. When the dust was settled, they had 22 hammer-struck silver coins, believed to have been lost aboard one of 11 Spanish ships sunk by a hurricane while heading home from a trade voyage to Cuba in 1715. It's this disaster that gives the Treasure Coast its name.

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The coins could be worth up to $7,000, per TCPalm.com, but that's mostly a footnote to Martinez, who has no plans to sell. "We are not trying to profit out here. We are just collecting pieces of history," the 43-year-old tells WPEC. "That's cool if you ask me." Indeed, Martinez says his career treasure finds—including daggers, belt buckles, and rings—add up to $13 million in value, with a single haul of gold coins estimated at $6.5 million, per TCPalm. "We love to be the guys who find treasure[s] that were lost at sea more than 300 years ago," Martinez tells WPEC. The silver coins will be added to his collection, housed in "a safe spot," to await the next discovery, per TCPalm. Hoping to get in on the action? You'll need a permit to look for treasure on state land, but not on a public beach. (Read more treasure stories.)

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