Rare Coins from the SS Republic Shipwreck on view at the Louisiana State Museum-Old U.S. Mint -- 02/28/2008
Office of State MuseumFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2008
Rare Coins from the SS Republic Shipwreck on view at the Louisiana State Museum-Old U.S. Mint
Opening February 28, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - After 143 years, the Louisiana State Museum and Odyssey Marine Exploration are bringing a piece of history back to the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans. A collection of 45 rare coins from the SS Republic shipwreck minted in New Orleans from 1844 through 1861 will be on display for the public to enjoy beginning February 28, 2008. The collection includes examples of die errors and a rare, 17 coin set of 1861-O Liberty Seated Half Dollars struck at the New Orleans Mint (known today as the Old U.S. Mint). Perhaps the most fascinating coin in the collection is an 1861 Half Dollar struck by the State of Louisiana just after seceding from the Unites States and just prior to joining the Confederate States of America.
"We are very excited about exhibiting coins from SS Republic at the Old U.S. Mint," stated Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu, who oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, which includes the Louisiana State Museum. "The Mint is an important site in Louisiana and Civil War history. Depicting the activities of the New Orleans Mint through these artifacts is a wonderful way to bring history back to life for our visitors."
In 1861, the historic New Orleans Mint operated under the control of three different governments. When Louisiana seceded from the Union in February 1861 it took control of the United States Federal Branch Mint in New Orleans and continued to strike Silver Seated Liberty Half Dollars using the Federal Dies. When Louisiana joined the Confederate States of America, the Mint turned over to the Confederacy and additional half dollars were minted using the same dies.
The New Orleans Mint is the only mint in U.S. history to strike a coin under the control of a sovereign state. The discovery of SS Republic by Odyssey Marine Exploration resulted in coins being authenticated as struck by the State of Louisiana for the first time.
"The study of the coins from SS Republic continues to answer questions about a pivotal point in United States history. The half dollars from the New Orleans Mint help tell the story of the amazing transition that took place in Louisiana at the start of the Civil War," said Mark Gordon, President of Odyssey Marine Exploration. "One of our primary missions is to share our discoveries and history with the world. The loan of these coins to the Louisiana State Museum is very exciting and another example of our commitment to this goal."
The installation opens February 28, 2008 and will be on view through 2009. The Louisiana State Museum-Old U.S. Mint is located at 400 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70116. Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for students, seniors, and active duty military; children under 12 and Museum members are admitted free.
About Odyssey Marine Exploration
Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. is engaged in the exploration of deep-water shipwrecks and uses innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology to conduct extensive deep-ocean search and recovery operations around the world. Odyssey discovered the Civil War era shipwreck of SS Republic in 2003 and recovered over 50,000 coins and 14,000 artifacts from the site nearly 1,700 feet deep. In May 2007, the Company announced the largest historic deep-ocean treasure recovery of over 500,000 silver and gold coins, weighing 17 tons, from a Colonial era site code-named "Black Swan." Odyssey has several shipwreck projects in various stages of development around the world.
The Louisiana State Museum, a complex of national landmarks housing thousands of artifacts and works of art reflecting Louisiana's legacy of historic events and cultural diversity, is part of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, which is overseen by Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu. The Museum network includes five properties in the famous French Quarter: the Cabildo, Presbytere, 1850 House, Old U.S. Mint and Madame John's Legacy. Other sites include Baton Rouge, Patterson, Natchitoches, and Thibodaux.
For more information about the Louisiana State Museum please call (800) 568-6968 or visit http://lsm.crt.state.la.us.