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Rare coins to be displayed in Cape Coral

By Staff | Dec 31, 2009

When treasure hunter Mel Fisher discovered the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha off the Florida Keys in 1985, he brought to close a mystery that was nearly 400 years old
On the Atocha, Fisher recovered $450 million worth of gold, silver and emeralds that had been lost since 1622, when the Spanish galleon was laid to waste by a powerful hurricane.
The find was one of the largest ever recovered in U.S. waters, and made national headlines.
Now some of that legendary booty will call Cape Coral home when it’s unveiled at the Cape Coral Historical Museum in January.
According to Cape historian Paul Sanborn, the coins were donated by resident Lou Tilley, who worked closely with Mel Fisher through Fisher’s company, Treasure Salvors.
“We were very fortunate he donated these coins,” Sanborn said. “Lou Tilley is a terrific guy.”
The coins will be on display two days only, Jan 16 – 17.
There also will be a presentation by a former diver with the Mel Fisher Group, Scott Murray, who will give an overview of the actual discovery of the Atocha.
“These are authentic coins that came from that sunken treasure,” Sanborn said. “Every coin has a certification from Mel Fisher himself.”
The 388-year-old coins will only be on display for two days, though the museum owns the coins.
Museum curator Anne Cull is urging people to come check out the coins, which will be available to hold in your hand.
“It’s quite a coup to have them for the museum,” Cull said.
Paul Sanborn said that Lou Tilley’s role in the discovery of the Atocha is nearly as amazing as the treasure itself.
Sanborn said Tilley struck a deal with Fisher, which he was paid for his services in Treasure Salvors with gold coins.
Treasure Salvors is still in operation in Key West.
“Instead of getting cash out of Treasure Salvors, he was compensated as a member of the board through receiving some of the coins,” Sanborn said. “Lou Tilley really has a tremendous story.”
The presentation by Scott Murray is Saturday, Jan 16, 10 a.m. at the Cultural Park Theater.
The coins will be available for viewing immediately after.
The events are free and open to the public. For more information call the Historical Museum at 772-7037.