Renowned numismatist and NRA Golden Ring of Freedom honoree Michael Fuljenz has a surprise in store for anyone planning to attend the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Dallas, Texas, May 4-6—and it’s a big one. Fuljenz’s Universal Coin & Bullion, Ltd. along with 1st National Reserve and 1st American Reserve have erected an elaborate display of precious-metal treasures recovered in 2014 from the fabled sunken “Ship of Gold,” the SS Central America. The historic unveiling will mark the first public display in the Lone Star state of the more than $5 million booty of historic California Gold Rush-era gold and silver coins, gold bars and the first time the public will see recovered satchels of California gold dust. The exhibit will be showcased in a 40-foot-long recreation of the ship’s hull set up on the exhibit hall floor of the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. Remarkably, the public will also have an opportunity to purchase some of the actual recovered-treasure artifacts.
“Life Magazine proclaimed the SS Central America discovery, ‘The Greatest Treasure Ever Found,’” said Fuljenz. “The Central America was a 280-foot-long, three-masted, side-wheel steamship carrying tons of California gold when she sank in a September 1857 hurricane during a voyage from Aspinwall (now Colón), Panama to New York City. The loss of the gold cargo 161 years ago was a major factor in the economically devastating financial panic of 1857 in the United States,” explained Fuljenz. The shipwreck site was discovered in September 1988 more than 7,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean about 160 miles off the coast of North Carolina. The last expedition to successfully retrieve a portion of the treasure was completed in 2014. “The recovered items are a time capsule of the great California Gold Rush. You think about who discovered the gold, who held it, who decided to let it go at the last minute as the ship was sinking. The treasure is history you can hold in your hands,” said Fuljenz.
Bob Evans, the chief scientist on the 1980's mission that first located and recovered a portion of the fabulous sunken treasure and who assisted with the 2014 recovery, will be at the exhibit each day during the show to meet with visitors and will participate with Fuljenz in a discussion about the shipwreck treasure during the 9th Annual Freedom First Financial Seminar about gold on Saturday, May 5, at 11 a.m. in Room D172 of the convention center. Every seminar attendee will be entered in a random drawing to win a piece of shipwreck gold, and all attendees will receive a free silver coin or silver round and a copy of Fuljenz’s award-winning gold guide.
In addition to recovered gold and silver coins and assayers’ gold ingots, the Ship of Gold exhibit in Dallas will include a type of historic SS Central America item not seen until this year when this treasure was made public: leather satchels filled with more than 1,000 ounces of 1857 California gold dust that were recovered from a safe on the sunken ship. “We are making this gold dust available to the public for the first time, as well as some of the recovered gold and silver coins. Everything has been certified for authenticity and grade by Professional Coin Grading Service, and recovery expeditions scientist Bob Evans has personally certified the authenticity and provenance of the gold dust,” Fuljenz added.
In addition to being a Golden Ring of Freedom honoree, Mike Fuljenz is an NRA Benefactor and long-time supporter of the NRA's Eddie Eagle Gunsafe program. Known as America's Gold Expert, he has won more than 60 prestigious national and regional awards and honors for his consumer education and protection work about rare coins and gold and silver. A respected community leader in his hometown of Beaumont, Texas, Fuljenz also has taught law enforcement seminars and served with distinction as a consultant to the Federal Trade Commission, United States Mint and Royal Canadian Mint, and is on the Boards of Directors of the influential Industry Council For Tangible Assets and Crime Stoppers of Beaumont, Texas. He is a member of the prestigious Professional Numismatists Guild and also a long-time member of the Press Club of Southeast Texas.