Monday, November 7, 2016

Shipwreck of the Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario

The wreck of the Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario was found in 2013, 400 miles from the Florida Keys.

The ship was part of a Spanish fleet of 28 ships, eight of which met their fate September 5, 1622 during a severe hurricane. 500 people on board perished and their resting place remained a mystery for four centuries.
The Spanish Tierra Firme fleet sailed in the spring of 1622 with military escort bound for the ports of Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Portobello (Panama) and the coast of Venezuela. The fleet was loaded in Havana with gold and silver from Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia.

The goal was to meet in Havana harbor with the fleet of New Spain and return together to Spain, whose royal coffers were exhausted. The fleet was delayed by more than six weeks due to the time needed to load the massive treasure - well into hurricane season.

The wreck contained 39 gold bars, and 1,200 silver pieces of eight.
One day into its voyage, between Cuba and Florida, the fleet encountered a fierce hurricane. The storm scattered the ships, capsizing some and slamming others onto the Florida Keys. Three treasure ships were lost in the storm, the famous Nuestra Senora de Atocha, Santa Margarita and the smaller merchant ship Buen Jesús y Nuestra Señora del Rosario.

The loss of 1.28 million pesos on the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Santa Margarita alone sent shock waves across the Atlantic to debt-ridden Madrid. The disaster was directly responsible for the failure of the Bank of Madrid. It contributed to the eventual downfall of the all-powerful Spanish colonial empire. Among the 17,000 objects are pearls from a rare species of oyster found in seabeds off the coast of Venezuela.

Detail of an ‘EN RADA’ stamp on gold finger bar.

Mexico City and Peruvian silver coins

Gold finger bar with nine stamps: five quinto tax stamps, three 21.75 karat purity stamps, and one ‘EN RADA’ stamp