Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest– …Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink and the devil had done for the rest– …Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

William Phips was a very, very busy man. In a life of only 44 years he managed to find treasure troves, be instrumental in the founding of the Bank of England, sacked Port Royal [although it had already surrendered!], led and expedition against Quebec – which he “paid” for with paper money issued by the Massachusetts Bay Colony (a first!) and first established the court that allowed “spectral evidence” in the Salem witch trials but then relented, suspended the trials and released [but did not pardon] those imprisoned or awaiting trial. He would have been as much at home in Massachusetts today today as he was just over four hundred years ago!

This book is a great read about the men, machines and machinations that made up the treasure hunting business long before Barry Clifford took center stage.

Treasure hunt : shipwreck, diving, and the quest for treasure in an age of heroes New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2008      Peter Earle Salvage  History Hardcover. Originally published: London : Methuen, 2007. 1st U.S. ed. and printing. xv, 383 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [359]-370) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

Treasure Hunt is the story of an obsession. Rumors of Spanish treasure, or gold and silver at the bottom of the sea, have been a part of maritime lore for centuries. In 1687, Captain William Phips brought back to port an incredible cargo – nearly forty tons of silver and gold – the treasure of the Spanish galleon Concepción, wrecked over forty years before on a coral reef in the middle of the ocean. The unimaginable had become real, and the great treasure-hunting boom had begun.

Soon after Phips’s success, there were numerous expeditions that meant to emulate his stunning achievement. During that same time there was also a boom in the invention of crude and often very dangerous diving equipment. Many of these new projects were promoted on the infant stock market, where gambling and treasure hunting became closely connected with the birth of modern capitalism.

By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, treasure hunting had become a professional occupation, with a new breed of diver emerging. Much of their time was spent salvaging the wrecks of English and Dutch East-Indiamen carrying treasure to finnance business in Asia. Ever since, men have been prepared to risk life and fortune in the search for underwater riches.

The author of numerous books of maritime history, including The Pirate Wars and The Sack of Panamá, world-renowned historian Peter Earle returns with an extraordinary and little-known history of outstanding bravery, of exceptional recklessness, and above all, of the unquenchable lust for treasure.


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