Antiques PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Antiques PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

California Gold Rush sunken treasure artifacts auction sale sets records

An auction of 270 never-before-offered historic California Gold Rush sunken treasure artifacts attracted nearly $1 million in sales from more than 7,500 registered bidders from across the United States and in six other countries. The recovered jewelry, mid-1800s clothing, glassware, and other items were retrieved from the legendary “Ship of Gold,” the S.S. Central America that sank during a voyage to New York in 1857.

“There has never been anything like the scope of these recovered artifacts which represented a time capsule of daily life during the Gold Rush. The auction took over eight hours for only 270 lots because of the exceptionally large number of bids,” said Fred Holabird, president of Holabird Western Americana Collections (, the auction company that conducted the sale in Reno, Nevada and online on December 3, 2022.

Holabird advised there will be only one more opportunity to acquire previously unavailable S.S. Central America artifacts when the last items recovered from the fabled ship are offered in a public auction on February 25, 2023.

Highlights of the December auction included the unique wooden lid to a Wells Fargo & Co. treasure box that that sold for $99,600; the purser’s keys to the ship’s treasure room where tons of Gold Rush coins and assayers’ ingots were stored brought $103,200; and the oldest known pair of miner’s heavy-duty work pants sold for $114,000, the highest price ever paid for jeans.

All prices include a 20 percent buyer’s fee added to all winning bids.

For additional information about the auction and the upcoming February 2023 auction of S.S. Central America artifacts, visit Holabird Western Americana Collections of Reno, Nevada at, call 775-851-1859, or email [email protected].

The winning bidder paid $102,300 for this historic brass name tag and keys recovered from the legendary SS Central America that sank in 1857. Holabird Western Americana Collections indicated the keys of the ship’s Purser, Edward W. Hull, likely were for a room where California Gold Rush treasure cargo was secured on the ship.