the massive "loaf-shaped" bar with top surface stamped with fineness [IIU]CCCLXXX, assayer initials (illegible), manifest number CCLXII, foundry date (illegible), and tax stamp or 'quito mark' of the Royal Seal of Spain, also incised with V mark for silvermaster Jacove de Vreder, owner's monogram MB, and with assayer's 'bite', further incised with three additional unidentified symbols or monograms, stamped on underside with recovery number A908 / 85 and with original grey plastic TSI tag
1334 in. (34.9 cm.) long
917 oz. 10 dwt. (28,534 gr.)
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 23 October 2003, lot 123.
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Lot Essay

The Nuestra Señora de Atocha was a Spanish treasure galleon, constructed in Havana, Cuba in 1620, which was part of the Tierra Firme fleet of 28 ships, and was one of the eight ships that sank in a hurricane off the Florida keys in 1622. As a heavily armed ship, it would have served as a rear guard for the fleet. At the time of its sinking, the ship was full of copper, silver, gold, and other goods from South American and Caribbean ports bound for Spain. A substantial portion of the sunken ship and its cargo was located in 1975 by Treasure Salvors, Inc. and subsequently salvaged, though the sterncastle of the ship, which would have held the majority of the gold and emeralds, is yet to be located.

According to the ship's manifest, this silver ingot was being shipped by Miguel de Munibe, probably to himself. The Munibe family, originally from the Basque region of Spain, had long been involved in trade between Spain and its colonies, beginning with Juan de Munibe, who arrived in Chile in 1585 and brought his younger brothers Lope and Fernando the following year. The three moved to Lima, Peru by 1600, and were joined by brother Miguel by 1612. Miguel was shipping at least 102 silver ingots on the Tierra Firme fleet in 1622, 102 on the Atocha and seven on the Santa Margarita, which also sank. Miguel was himself a passenger on the Atocha and perished in the wreck along with 259 other passengers. Only three sailors and two slaves survived.

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