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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (04/2010) Headlines (02/2010) Headlines (06/2010)   Vol. 44 April 2010 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the April 2010 edition of W&ET Magazine

RARE PENNY SOLD FOR $402,500

A rare Canadian penny was in the thoughts of an unnamed buyer who paid $402,500 for the coin at a New York auction. It was one of only three known 1936-dated Canadian cents struck by the Royal Canadian Mint with a small dot below the date to indicate it was actually made in 1937. It bears the image of King George V, who died in 1936.

From the St. Petersburg Times, submitted by Robert Marx, Bristol, VA. U.S. COINS WASHING ASHORE IN ECUADOR

High tides have been tossing a lot more than seaweed onto Ecuador's shore: Hundreds of bathers have scooped up what look like U.S. coins, plus rings, bracelets, necklaces and other silver-and gold-colored jewelry.

Recently, the Teleamazonas TV station broadcast images of beachgoers collecting the flotsam at El Muercielago beach in the Pacific port city of Manta.

One woman said she collected a total of $24.50.

No one could say where the objects came from. Manta police did not return calls seeking information.

The treasure-bearing tide came in on a Wednesday, and the bounty continued through Thursday.

Manta lifeguard Felix Burgos told the station a similar high tide washed coins ashore five years ago.

From the Chicago Sun Times, submitted by Bob Bolek, Hometown, IL.



"PRICELESS' AMBER ROOM OF THE TSARS, LOOTED AND HIDDEN BY THE NAZIS, IS "FOUND'

The Amber Room of the Tsars- one of the greatest missing treasures of World War II that was looted by the Nazis during their invasion of the Soviet Union- may have been found.

A Russian treasure hunter is currently excavating in the enclave of Kaliningrad where he has discovered a World War II era bunker that the local German high command used in the battle for the city in 1945.

If Sergei Trifonov is correct then he has solved one of the greatest riddles left over from the war- and will make himself into a multi-millionaire.

He anticipates that he will break into the bunker by the end of the month to find the treasure.

Crafted entirely out of amber, gold and precious stones, the room made of numerous panels was a masterpiece of baroque art and widely regarded as the world's most important art treasure.

When its 565 candles were lit, the Amber Room was said to "glow a fiery gold'. It is estimated to be worth around 150 million pounds, but many consider it priceless.

It was presented to Peter the Great in 1716 by the King of Prussia.

Later, Catherine the Great commissioned a new generation of craftsmen to embellish the room and moved it from the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to her new summer abode in Tsarskoye Selo, outside the city.

The room was seized by the marauding Germans during their onslaught on Russia in 1941. Prussian count Sommes Laubach, the Germans' "art protection officer' and holder of a degree in art history, supervised the room's transport to Koenigsberg Castle in what was then East Prussia.

In January 1945, after air raids and a savage ground assault on the city, the room was lost. Ever since the Amber Room has become the new El Dorado, a quest that enthralled the wealthy and the poor alike.

The Maigret author Georges Simenon founded the Amber Room Club to track it down once and for all. Everyone had a different theory of what might have befallen the work.

The German official in charge of the amber shipment said the crates were in a castle that burned down in an air raid.

Others think the room sank to the bottom of the Baltic Sea in a torpedoed steamer used by the Nazis, or that it was hacked up by Red Army troops and sent home like sticks of rock as souvenirs of their conquest.

Historian Trifonov, however, believes he has solved the riddle and that the treasure lies in the bunker 40 feet down in the soil of Koenigsberg.

"Believe me or not, it's there, 12 metres down in the sub-soil,' he said, pointing to the entrance of a bunker that sheltered the Nazi high command in the last hours of the Battle of Koenigsberg.

"This place was built in February 1945 with two aims: accommodating the headquarters of General Otto Lasch and storing the treasures of Konigsberg, a city under siege.'

Konigsberg, in what was then German East Prussia, is now Kaliningrad, the capital of Russia's westernmost region of the same name.

To test his theory, Trifonov has begun to probe the soil under the bunker using a ground-penetrating radar and has started to pump out water. He has already unearthed a brick-lined room.

The bunker is 1,000 yards from the site of the castle that demolished in 1967. He says he has "information' from archives that this is the repository of the fabled room, but he isn't saying where his sources are.

The governor of Kaliningrad appears convinced and has provided financing for the dig. But many remain skeptical.

"He's a good storyteller but he can't prove anything,' said Vladimir Kulakov, an expert at Russia's Institute of Archaeology, who has also dug in the soil under the bunker in the search for the Amber Room.

Anatoly Valuyev, deputy director of Kaliningrad's History and Art Museum, which takes in the bunker, was more hopeful.

"It's good that people think that the treasure is there. They have energy and the museum gains from this,' he said.

"We still hope that the Amber Room is somewhere in Kaliningrad,' he said. "There are plenty of underground sites left to explore. If they don't find it here, they'll look elsewhere.'

From the Daily Mail, submitted by Dan Knuth, Thiensville, WI.



PEEK INTO GOLD RUSH LIFE

Underwater archaeologists say they have found a virtual time capsule of life during Canada's Klondike Gold Rush: a sunken Yukon River stern-wheeler so well-preserved that researchers can document the last minutes of the five-man crew as well as their life aboard the primitive cargo-hauler.

The door of the steam boiler on the A.J. Goodard was open, and slightly charred wood found inside suggested the crew was trying to build up a head of steam, perhaps to break loose from an ice jam.

An ax remains on the deck after one crew member hefted it to chop the rope used to tow a barge, a sign of their frantic attempts to escape the ice floe.

Three men perished in the 1901 sinking, according to news reports at the time, and two were found clinging to the ship's wheelhouse in the lake.

The Goddard, which had been disassembled and carried over mountain passes to be reassembled on the shores of Lake Bennett at the headwaters of the Yukon, foundered in a winter storm, sinking in 40 feet of frigid water in Lake Laberge, about 40 miles north of Whitehorse. Its precise location had been a mystery until last summer.

The ship "is literally a frozen moment in time," with virtually everything onboard where it was when the ship went down, said archaeologist James Delgado, president of Texas A&M University's Institute of Nautical Archaeology and a member of the team that found the Goddard.

The Klondike Gold Rush was triggered in 1896 when gold was discovered in the Yukon River valley.

Ultimately, about 30,000 miners made it- out of 100,000 who started out.

A canvas hose running to a pump on the wreck suggests that the vessel was taking on water.

The crew lived in a canvas tent on the deck, the framework of which remains. Their stove was on deck as well. A cooking pot sat in the mud by the wreck.

They had a forge for repairs and the tongs were still on it. Their tools had spilled out a bag and were scattered across the deck and into the mud. A running light on the side of the ship was still in place.

One of the crew's coat and shoes were left on the deck, perhaps shed as he attempted to swim for his life.

The team saw what appears to be one of the men's carpetbags in the hold, but have not yet retrieved it.

The team will return this spring to retrieve objects for the Yukon Transportation Museum.

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


























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