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After 10 years they have found the missing piece of the golden statue

A golden wing found this summer by divers off the Atlantic coast of Florida turned out to be the missing piece of a discovery made almost 10 years earlier! Back then, a group of treasure hunters from the 1715 Fleet Society found a 300-year-old gold pelican statuette with one wing on the seabed. Both the
Published: August 11, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 20:44
After 10 years they have found the missing piece of the golden statue

A golden wing found this summer by divers off the Atlantic coast of Florida turned out to be the missing piece of a discovery made almost 10 years earlier! Back then, a group of treasure hunters from the 1715 Fleet Society found a 300-year-old gold pelican statuette with one wing on the seabed.

Both the gold statue, which measures 14cm tall, and the missing wing came from a Spanish ship that crashed and sank in 1715. The statue was found in August 2010 by Bonnie Schubert while searching with an underwater metal detector about 300 metres off Frederick Douglass beach in Fort Pierce.

Golden wing found on sea bed 1715fleetsociety divers24.co.uk
Gold wing found on sea bed photo 1715 Fleet Society

The shipwrecked vessel was part of a fleet of 11 vessels full of treasure that were on their way back from Cuba to the Kingdom of Spain. On the last day of July 1715, the ships fled a powerful hurricane and, seeking refuge, reached the coast of nearby Florida.

Golden pelican wing found in Florida 1715fleetsociety divers24.co.uk
Wing after being brought to the surface photo 1715 Fleet Society

Unfortunately, it was of little use and the Spanish fleet was smashed by the elements anyway, and the destruction was completed by the surrounding reef. As a result of the sinking of ships filled with gold, the area between the towns of St Lucie and Sebastian was named the ‘Treasure Coast’, and every year between May and September American divers search for sunken artifacts there.

Despite the lack of a wing, the figurine of the bird – originally thought to be an eagle – was sold for a round sum of $150,000, of which, in accordance with current law, 20% went to the coffers of the State of Florida.

Diver after finding golden wing 1715fleetsociety divers24.co.uk
Tracy Newman presents her find photo 1715 Fleet Society

Now a missing wing with a gold chain attached has been found not far from where the pelican statuette was found 10 years earlier. Luck smiled on Henry Jones, captain of the Perfect Day boat, and his crew member Tracy Newman. Over the past decade they have repeatedly searched the area for the missing piece and have finally made it!

Crew presenting the found golden artifact Crew members Brian Fisher And Tracy Newman And Captain Henry Jones 1715fleetsociety divers24.pl
Crew members Brian Fisher and Tracy Newman and Captain Henry Jones photo 1715 Fleet Society

It is believed that the statuette known as the Pelican of Piety was a reliquary in whose recess the holy relics were kept. The Pelican, a mother taking blood from her own breast to feed her hungry chicks, symbolised Christ the Redeemer who shed his blood on the cross.

Inspection of excavated artefact 1715fleetsociety divers24.co.uk
Gold Wing during measurement and visual inspection photo 1715 Fleet Society

The Pelican of Devotion is currently valued at US$885,000. Its buyer is interested in acquiring the missing wing if the price is right.

Collage missing wing and golden pelican figure 1715fleetsociety divers24.co.uk
Missing wing and pelican figurine photo 1715 Fleet Society

There is no denying that finding a missing fragment of a figurine is a remarkable story, but it is also quite a turnaround on the value of artefacts. Based on similar cases, we can safely assume that a set in the possession of one buyer will be worth more than the sum of both items if they have different owners.

Source: 1715 Fleet Society

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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