Written By John Croft

An epic find for me and what a story of a rare Spanish silver coin from the most famous sunken treasure ship ever, the Atocha.

On Saturday, Gigmaster and I hit the beach in search of gold. We both scored a number of rings but not the gold rings we were hoping for. A few hours into the hunt, the tide changed and Mother Nature began to pile sand onto the beach. As our recoveries start to fall off, Gig and I decided to move to another beach location.

We’re at our new beach location and Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating with us one bit. Gig and I walked the shoreline for blocks and all I managed to squeak out was a quarter and a penny.

After a hour or so, Gigmaster and I were done and decided to leave the beach. On one of my final swings, my detector goes bonkers. It was a super high signal which sounded like big silver. I used my scoop and dug down about 2 feet in the sand before I could finally recover the target. I could not believe what was inside my scoop. It was a huge silver Spanish “Piece of Eight” coin pendant. The coin was wrapped in a silver bezel with a 14k gold clasp, anchor & rope adornment. I knew this coin to be colonial Spanish silver and probably minted in the 1600’s.

I knew I had a real piece of pirate silver that had been mounted into a pendant. I felt quite certain it was an actual recovered ship wreck coin but I would probably never know what ship it was recovered from. In the back of my mind, I wondered if this coin was recovered from the treasure ship Atocha. Who wouldn’t, it’s the most famous treasure ship ever found.

I stared at this pendant in absolute disbelief; I just couldn’t believe what I found. I darn near couldn’t call Gigmaster over to my location because my chin was hitting the beach. Gig finally reached me and I showed him the find in my scoop. When Gig pulled the pendant out of my scoop, I think he was as blown away as I was. Gig told me that this was the find of the year and maybe the find of a lifetime. We were both stunned at the coin pendant and there was no question that this Spanish “`Piece of Eight” coin was as right, as right can get. We knew that someone lost something very special, but who?

Did I want to keep it, yes. Was I hoping it would be mine, yes. If I received information that there was someone missing this pendant, would I lay low and hide it under my pillow or return it? I would return it without hesitation.

A quick historical footnote by Wikipedia:

The Nuestra Señora de Atocha (Spanish: Our Lady of Atocha) was a Spanish treasure galleon and the most widely known vessel of a fleet of ships that sank in a hurricane off the Florida Keys in 1622. At the time of her sinking, Nuestra Señora de Atocha was heavily laden with copper, silver, gold, tobacco, gems, and indigo from Spanish ports at Cartagena and Porto Bello in New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama, respectively) and Havana, bound for Spain. The Nuestra Señora de Atocha was named for a holy shrine in Madrid, Spain. It was a heavily armed Spanish galleon that served as the almirante (rear guard) for the Spanish fleet. It would trail behind the other ships in the flota to prevent an attack from the rear.

Much of the wreck of Nuestra Señora de Atocha was famously recovered by an American commercial treasure hunting expedition in 1985. Following a lengthy court battle against the State of Florida, the finder, Mel Fisher was ultimately awarded sole ownership of the rights to the treasure.

Artist rendition of the Atocha
Mel Fisher with treasure finds

So let’s back up, on Friday, a gentleman named Matt and his wife were vacationing in Va. Beach from Ohio. Matt was wearing this silver pendant on a neckless. While riding a wave on an inner tube, Matt got toppled and lost this pendant in the surf. Matt later told me that the loss of this pendant made him sick to his stomach, it ruined their vacation. Sunday evening, Matt and his wife returned to Ohio heartbroken.

Treasure hunter Mel Fisher who actually found the Atocha coined the phrase, “Today is the day.” Well Saturday was “the day” for me because I found this lost coin a second time in its history. Of course, Matt did not know I found his lost pendant and I did not know Matt.

Mel Fisher and finds from the Atocha

After the loss, Matt happened to see a gentleman metal detecting at the beach. Matt asked the gentleman about searching for his lost pendant but the gentlemen said he didn’t hunt in the water. The gentleman recommended the Gigmaster and told Matt that the Gigmaster finds lost jewelry for people all the time. Later that day, Matt went to Gigmaster’s web site and sends Gigmaster an email asking about finding his lost Spanish coin. Matt did not know I already found what he had lost. After receiving the email, Gigmaster sends me Matt’s contact information. After a little research, I was able to develop Matt’s cell phone number. Through a series of calls, texts and photographs, I determined that Matt was the actual owner of this rare coin pendant. I cannot tell you how happy Matt was that his pendant was found and that I would be returning it to him.

Matt told me that years ago, he and his wife had visited both of Mell Fisher’s treasure museums in Florida looking at recovered artifacts from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha treasure ship. Matt wanted one of the Atocha coin pendants so bad but they were very expensive, actually in the thousands of dollars.

Atocha Tresasure

Over the years, Matt’s wife saved her money and purchased this rare pendant for Matt as a gift. This pendant bears an original coin from the most famous treasure ship ever recovered, the Atocha. The historical and sentimental significance of this pendant for Matt was huge so you know why he was sick after loosing it.

Matt’s Atocha Coin (Front)

First lost by the Spanish in 1722 off the Florida coast, it was later recovered by Mell Fisher. Purchased by Matt’s wife and lost again in 2023. I just happened to be lucky enough to be the second person to recover this lost piece of amazing history. Now it’s being sent back home to Matt who rightfully owns it.

Matt’s Atocha Coin (Back)

This epic piece of treasure has one cool story to tell. Thank you Gigmaster for getting us to the right beach location or this Spanish “Piece of Eight” pendant may have been lost forever.

Written by John Croft

The author with a Shipwreck on the outer banks of North Carolina

About John- John is an avid beach searcher and treasure hunter who can often be found on the beaches of Virginia with his metal detector and partner in crime “The Gigmaster” Steve Andrews who can be found at youtube along with the live recoveries of this coin and the return! Check them out at

John Croft and the Steve Andrews aka. “The Gig Master”

Thank you to John for share this amazing story and bringing Us along. If you would like your story shared please send me a message via the contact section! See the return video here!

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