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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (05/2008) Headlines (03/2008) Headlines (06/2008)   Vol. 42 May 2008 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the May 2008 edition of W&ET Magazine

FBI MAKES NEW BID TO FIND 1971 SKYJACKER

The FBI is making a new stab at identifying mysterious skyjacker Dan Cooper, who bailed out of an airliner in 1971 and vanished, releasing new details that it hopes will jog someone's memory.

The man calling himself Dan Cooper, also known as D.B. Cooper, boarded a Northwest flight in Portland for a flight to Seattle on the night of Nov. 24, 1971, and commandeered the plane, claiming he had dynamite.

In Seattle, he demanded and got $200,000 and four parachutes and demanded to be flown to Mexico. Somewhere over southwestern Washington, he jumped out the plane's tail exit with two of the chutes.

Recently, the FBI released drawings that it said probably are close to what Cooper looked like, along with a map of areas where Cooper might have landed.

"Who was Cooper? Did he survive the jump? We're providing new information and pictures and asking for your help in solving the case," the FBI said in a statement.

The FBI said that while Cooper was originally thought to have been an experienced jumper, it has since concluded that was wrong and that he almost certainly didn't survive the jump in the dark and rain. He hadn't specified a route for the plane to fly and had no way of knowing where he was when he went out the exit.

"Diving into the wilderness without a plan, without the right equipment, in such terrible conditions, he probably never even got his chute open," Seattle-based agent Larry Carr said.

He also didn't notice that his reserve chute was intended only for training and had been sewn shut.

Several people have claimed to be Cooper over the years but were dismissed on the basis of physical descriptions, parachuting experience and, later, by DNA evidence recovered in 2001 from the cheap tie the skyjacker left on the plane.

In 1980, a boy walking near the Columbia River found $5,800 of the stolen money, in tattered $20 bills.

"Maybe a hydrologist can use the latest technology to trace the $5,800 in ransom money found in 1980 to where Cooper landed upstream," Carr said. "Or maybe someone just remembers that odd uncle."

From The Oregonian, submitted by Jeff Kehl, Avon, MN.



50-STATE QUARTER PROGRAM TO WRAP UP IN 2008

A grizzly bear clutching a salmon, the Grand Canyon at sunrise and a scissortail flycatcher in flight. Those striking images will be on the final batch of state quarters as the most successful coin program in history draws to a close.

The U.S. Mint recently unveiled the final five designs for the state quarters with the first one, honoring Oklahoma, to be put into circulation in late January with the other four following at 10-week intervals.

The states have been honored in the order they were admitted to the union, starting with Delaware. It was honored with a quarter in 1999. The effort kicked off a collecting craze unlike anything ever seen before in the coin world.

Based on a 2005 survey, Mint officials estimate 147 million people have gotten involved in collecting the quarters with their constantly changing designs.

"The American people have made the 50 state quarters the most successful coins in United States history," said Mint Director Ed Moy.

The final five coins will start with Oklahoma, which entered the union in 1907. It will feature the state bird, the scissortail flycatcher, and the state wildflower, the Indian blanket.

That will be followed by a Zia sun symbol for New Mexico, which entered the union on January 6, 1912. Arizona, admitted on February 14, 1912, will be represented by the Grand Canyon and a saguaro cactus.

Alaska's coin will feature a grizzly bear wading in a stream with a salmon in its mouth while the Hawaii coin depicts King Kamehameha. Alaska and Hawaii were the last states to join the union in 1959.

Through the first eight years of the program, the Mint produced 31.2 billion quarters. Moy said about 20 billion of those quarters were because of the popularity of the changing designs which attracted collectors in record numbers.

It costs the government about 9 to 10 cents to make a quarter, but the Mint sells the coins at face value. The increased production has amounted to an estimated $3.8 billion in extra profits for the government.

The quarters are scheduled to revert back to their pre-1999 designs after next year with the "tails" side featuring an American eagle.

From The News Herald, submitted by Doug Amundson, Cambridge, MN.



PORCELAIN RECOVERED FROM 800+ YEAR OLD SHIPWRECK SITE

After 800 years at the bottom of the sea, a merchant ship loaded with porcelain and other rare antiques was raised to the surface recently in a specially built basket, a state news agency reported.

The Nanhai No. 1, which means "South China Sea No. 1," sank off the south China coast with some 60,000 to 80,000 items on board, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing Wu Jiancheng, head of the excavation project.

Archaeologists built a steel basket around the 100-foot vessel, and it took about two hours for a crane to lift the ship and surrounding silt to the surface, Xinhua said. The basket was as large as a basketball court and as tall as a three-story building.

Green-glazed porcelain plates and shadowy blue porcelain items were among rare antiques found during the initial exploration of the ship. Archaeologists have also recovered containers made of gold and silver as well as about 6,000 copper coins.

The ship dates from the early Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). It was discovered in 1987 off the coast near the city of Yangijang, in Guangdong province, in more than 65 feet of water.

The Nanhai No. 1 was placed on a waiting barge. It will be deposited in a huge glass pool at a museum where the water temperature, pressure and other environmental conditions are the same as where it has lain on the sea bed.

Feng Shaowen, head of the Yangjiang city cultural bureau, said visitors will be able to watch the excavation of the ship through windows on the pool.

From The Associated Press, submitted by Jeff Kehl, Avon, MN.



FOSSIL REVEALS BUG AS BIG AS A SMALL CAR

British scientists have stumbled across a fossilized claw, part of an ancient sea scorpion, that is of such large proportion it would make the entire creature the biggest bug ever.

How big? Bigger than you, and at 8 feet long as big as some Smart cars.

The discovery in 390-million-year-old rocks suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were far larger in the past than previously thought, said Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleontologist and one of the study's authors.

"We never realized until now just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were," he said.

The study, published online recently in the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters, means that before this sea scorpion became extinct it was much longer than today's average man is tall.

From The Chicago Tribune, submitted by Bob Bolek, Hometown, IL.



SITE HONORING FOUNDERS OF ANCIENT ROME UNVEILED

Archaeologists recently unveiled an underground grotto believed to have been revered by ancient Romans as the place where a wolf nursed the city's legendary founder Romulus and his twin brother Remus.

Decorated with seashells and colored marble, the vaulted sanctuary is buried 52 feet inside the Palatine hill, the palatial center of power in imperial Rome, the archaeologists said at a news conference.

In the past two years, experts have been probing the space with endoscopes and laser scanners, fearing that the fragile grotto, already partially caved-in, would not survive a full-scale dig, said Giorgio Croci, an engineer who worked on the site.

The archaeologists are convinced that they have found the place of worship where Romans believed a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of the god of war Mars who were abandoned in a basket and left adrift on the Tiber.

Thanks to the wolf, a symbol of Rome to this day, the twins survived, and Romulus founded the city, becoming its first king after killing Remus in a power struggle.

Ancient texts say the grotto known as the "Lupercale"- from "lupa," Latin for she-wolf- was near the palace of Augustus, Rome's first emperor, who was said to have restored it, and was decorated with a white eagle.

That symbol of the Roman Empire was found atop the sanctuary's vault, which lies just below the ruins of the palace built by Augustus, said Irene Iacopi, the archaeologist in charge of the Palatine and the nearby Roman Forum.

Augustus, who ruled from the late 1st century B.C. to his death in the year 14, was keen on being close to the places of Rome's mythical foundation and used the city's religious traditions to bolster his hold on power, Iacopi said.

"The Lupercale must have had an important role in Augustus' policies," she said. "He saw himself as a new Romulus."

Andrea Carandini, a professor of archaeology at Rome's La Sapienza University and an expert on the Palatine, said the grotto is almost certainly the "Lupercale."

"The chances that it's not are minimal," said Carandini, who did not take part in the dig. "It's one of the greatest discoveries every made."

Most of the sanctuary is filled with earth, but laser scans allowed experts to estimate that the circular structure has a height of 26 feet and a diameter of 24 feet, Croci said.

Iacopi said a new dig would start soon to find the grotto's original entrance at the bottom of the hill.

From The Providence Journal, submitted by Bill Ladd and Bob Bolek.



BRONZE SCULPTURES END UP BEING SOLD FOR SCRAP



Thirty stolen bronze sculptures are valued at $1 million- not by the scrap yards where most of them ended up.

Police say three people arrested in the thefts of the hefty artwork were after the raw materials rather than their artistic value. Bronze contains copper, which has skyrocketed in value from about 75 cents per pound in 2004 to more than $3 today.

Fisher, 60, whose art work has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and the Gallery Shimada in Yamaguchi, Japan, had estimated the sculptures' value at $1 million.

Authorities recovered 23 sculptures weighing a total of about 3,000 pounds from the scrap yard, which paid more than $4,000 for them.

From the Napa Valley Register, submitted by Jerry R. Hallett, Napa, CA.

BLACK SOX PAPERS ARE SOLD TO CITY'S HISTORY MUSEUM

With a $100,000 bid and a vow to put it on public display later, the Chicago History Museum ensured sports fans and historians will have a chance to see a trove of legal documents related to the 1919 Black Sox team.

The museum's winning bid puts the documents pertaining to the eight White Sox players accused of throwing the World Series and their underworld contacts into public light for the first time in over 88 years.

Private collectors unearthed the archive last year, and chose to remain anonymous, said Brian Marren, vice president of acquisitions at Mastro Auctions, the Burr Ridge auction house that handled the sale. There were 36 bidders in the weeks-long online auction, including museums and private collectors.

The foot-high stack of yellowed papers- transcripts of a 1921 criminal trial in Chicago, evidence for a 1924 back-pay lawsuit in Milwaukee, and correspondence among team owners that led to the creation of the office of baseball commissioner- have fascinated sports fans, historians and archivists since discovery of the trove was announced last fall.

"There's lots of reasons [we wanted these]," said Peter Alter, a curator at the Chicago History Museum. "You very rarely see a collection of this volume with this number of pieces on a topic like this. Corrupt politicians don't keep papers. Al Capone didn't keep papers. And rarely are there gamblers and others that keep papers."

Among other things, the trove of papers gives voice to gamblers involved in the alleged fix, Alter said. In handwritten notes between gamblers and lawyers and other sworn testimony, they express confusion at why money from New York was being placed on bets in St. Louis for a World Series being played in Cincinnati. They had a sneaking suspicion they were involved in something much bigger than their own interestes, Alter said the papers show.

Otherwise, he said the broad outline of the scandal remains the same.

It involved gamblers from Boston, New York and St. Louis and was allegedly carried out by White Sox pitchers Edward Cicotte and Claude "Lefty" Williams, first baseman Arnold "Chick" Gandil, shortstop Charles "Swede" Risberg, infielder Fred McMullin, third baseman George "Buck" Weaver, center fielder Oscar "Happy" Felsch and"Shoeless" Joe Jackson, the left fielder who seemed at once greater than all the rest and the most out of his league in the conspiracy.

All were acquitted in a 1921 criminal trial in Cook County Circuit Court but were permanently banned from the game after the scandal.

Dr. David Fletcher, the Illinois physician who is president of the Chicago Baseball Museum, offered this estimate of the trove: "It is the "Holy Grail" of the Black Sox story that fills in hidden holes." His museum was the runner-up bidder, he said.

Though the originals will stay in Chicago, a complete copy of the archive also will go to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, officials said.

The Chicago History Museum likely will get the papers next week and will make them available to the public.

Some pieces will go to the baseball case at the museum's "Chicago: Crossroads of America" exhibit. The rest of the papers will be available to historians at the museum's research center.

"But I want to pore through them first," Alter siad.

From the Chicago Tribune, submitted by Bob Bolek, Hometown, IL.



COIN COLLECTION FETCHES $30 MILLION

An anonymous buyer has paid more than $30 million for a collection of rare U.S. prototype coins, some from the 1700s, that never went into circulation, according to the dealer that brokered the deal.

The collection consists of about 1,000 coins that collectors refer to as pattern coins- trial designs that never went into production because the U.S. Mint chose other designs.

"This collection is an incredible collection... These were some of the first coins ever, ever struck by the United States government," said Laura Sperber, a partner in Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, NJ, which brokered the deal.

From the Lakeland Ledger, submitted by Donald J. Sherbert, Lake Alfred, FL.



RARE MEDIEVAL RING UNEARTHED

Treasure hunters have uncovered a rare medieval ring in the Cotswolds. Unearthed by metal detector enthusiast Denis Pople, the ancient ring has been declared a treasure by a coroner.

Only the third of its kind found in the UK, it will be valued and can be bought by a local museum.

Half the cash will go to the finder and half to the landowner.

Mr. Pople said: "I knew it was significant as soon as I cleaned it off. I thought "no more work for me."

"It was wonderful but it isn't about the money and I'd probably give it to a Christian charity."

Council worker Mr. Pople, 51, and his wife Tina, 53, from Mountain Ash in South Wales, were on a metal detecting rally last year when he found the ring in a field in Coberley under six inches of soil.

It dates back to the 15th century and depicts a heart, flowers, a crown and a pair of clasped hands,the Gloucester inquest was told.

"There were 200 to 300 people at the rally, an annual event in aid of charity.

"When I first found it I thought it was an old washer but I cleaned the muck off and could see the clasped hands and realized it was something interesting."

The couple were there to hear county coroner Alan Crickmore record a verdict that the ring was treasure.

Mark Lodwick, finds liaison officer of Cardiff Museum, said in a statement that it was a late medieval silver gilt finger ring, fully intact and depicting a heart flanked by four petalled flowers.

He said: "It symbolises a heart sprouting flowers. This is to symbolize faith and trust. It is over 300 years old and is likely to be well in excess of 10 per cent precious metal and therefore it can be considered potentially treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act."

Mrs. Pople said: "It's a lovely ring. I tried it on. If it goes to a museum, I hope it will go on display."

From The Citizen, submitted by Tom Rifleman, San Antonio, TX.



NEW PRESIDENTIAL DOLLAR COINS GOING "OLD" SCHOOL

Coming soon on new presidential dollar coins: Old Hickory, Old Kinderhook, Old Man Eloquent and the Last of the Cocked Hats.

The U.S. Mint, maker of the nation's coins, today is unveiling the stately images of the next four presidents whose faces will appear on the front of the shiny gold-colored dollar coins next year. James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren will be the new additions to the presidential dollar coin series that started with George Washington in February.

Monroe, the nation's fifth president who was nicknamed the Last of the Cocked Hats, a reference to the hat worn by soldiers of the American revolution, will be the first of the 2008 presidential coins. The Monroe dollar coin was released February 14.

Up next: Adams, the country's sixth president who was nicknamed Old Man Eloquent because of his long speeches. The Adams coin will be put into circulation May 15.

The dollar coin bearing the likeness of Old Hickory, the moniker for seventh president Andrew Jackson because of his leadership in the War of 1812, will be rolled out August 14. The Van Buren dollar coin, honoring the eighth president, will come out November 13. Van Buren's nicknames was Old Kinderhook, a reference to his New York hometown.

The Mint hopes the presidential series will breathe new life into dollar coins, which have suffered from little use in the past. The Susan B. Anthony and the Sacagawea dollar coins flopped, failing to get into cash registers and peoples' pockets.

The presidential dollar series is modeled on the Mint's popular 50-state quarter program, which lured millions of Americans into becoming coin collectors.

Like the quarters, the dollar coins will feature changing designs: four new presidents each year in the order they served in office. The presidents' faces are on the front of the coins, while the backs feature the Statue of Liberty. Some of the lettering, including "In God We Trust," was moved to the edge of the coins.

Some people believe the dollar coins won't gain wide acceptance unless the government gets rid of the dollar bill.

"We hope the next four presidential $1 coins will not only jingle in pockets but be spent as well," said Mint Director Ed Moy. "These coins are convenient. Each presidential $1 coin weighs less than four quarters, and they're especially useful for vending machines and mass transit," he added.

More than 800 million presidential coins were put into circulation in 2007, the Mint said. Those first four coins carried the images of Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

From The News Herald, submitted by Doug Amundson, Cambridge, MN.





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