Rare 1696 E Six Pence from the HMS Association Shipwreck

Item #CC-0454 | Rare 1696 E Six Pence from the HMS Association Shipwreck
Mint: Exeter, England
Ruler/Period: King William III
Grade: VF Details
Provenance: HMS Association Shipwreck

For details on this coin from NGC, click on the serial number here: 6698792-006

Description: This beautiful and very rare coin was recovered from the famous shipwreck known as “The HMS Association“. This is the only specimen graded by NGC from the wreck and only one other example has been graded in the entire NGC database. According to the W.H. Lane & Son Auction catalog from September 24th, 1974, there was only one 1696 E Six Pence sold (Lot #945) of the 1,431 coins and artifacts sold in the auction.

The Sinking of The HMS Association

In October 1707, the HMS Association, commanded by Captain Edmund Loades and with Admiral Cloudesley Shovell on board, was returning from the Mediterranean after the Toulon campaign. The 21 ships in the squadron entered the mouth of the English Channel on the night of October 22nd  1707. At 8 pm, the Association struck the Outer Gilstone Rock off the Isles of Scilly, and was wrecked with the loss of her entire crew of about 800 men. As a result of navigational errors, the ships were not where they were reckoned to be. The Association was seen by those on-board the HMS St. George to have gone down in three or four minutes’ time. Among the dead were Captain Loades and Admiral Shovell.

Three other ships (HMS Eagle, HMS Romney and HMS Firebrand) were also lost, bringing the death toll to nearly 2,000.

The Scilly naval disaster was one of the greatest maritime disasters in British history.

The Discovery of the HMS Association Shipwreck

In June 1967, the minesweeper HMS Puttenham, equipped with twelve divers under the command of Engineer-Lieutenant Roy Graham, sailed to the Isles of Scilly and dropped anchor off Gilstone Ledge, just to the south-east of Bishop Rock and close to the Western Rocks. The year before, Graham and other specialists from the Naval Air Command Sub Aqua Club had dived in this area on a first attempt to find the Association. He recalled some years later: “The weather was so bad, all we achieved was the sight of a blur of seaweed, seals and white water as we were swept through the Gilstone Reef and fortunately out the other side.” On their second attempt in the summer of 1967, using the minesweeper and supported by the Royal Navy Auxiliary Service, Graham and his men finally managed to locate the remains of the Association on the Gilstone Ledge. Parts of the wreck are in 30 feet, while others can be found between 90 and 120 feet as the sea floor falls away from the reef. The divers first discovered a cannon, and on the third dive, silver and gold coins were spotted underneath that cannon. The Ministry of Defense initially suppressed the news of the discovery for fear of attracting treasure hunters, but word was soon out and excited huge national interest. More than 2,000 coins and other artefacts were finally recovered from the wreck site and auctioned by Sotheby’s on July 14, 1969. The rediscovery of the Association and the finding of so many historical artefacts in her wreck also led to more government legislation, notably the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, passed in an attempt to preserve British historic wreck sites as part of the maritime heritage.

For a coin that remained submerged in the ocean for over 250 years, its level of preservation is rather remarkable. The lettering, date, and mint mark are fully legible as well as the portrait of King William III on the obverse. The reverse displays all of its lettering as well as the crowns, shields, and lions.

This rare and unique coin is a beautiful specimen with a rich history and perfect for anyone who collects 17th century shipwreck treasure!

For more information on the HMS Association and her fate, visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Association_(1697)


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