Between 1865 and 1882, the RMS Douro was one of the most luxurious ships in the World, making 61 successful transatlantic voyages between the UK and South America.
Although its main purpose was to transport mail between the two continents, the Douro was so comfortable and elegant, it became a particular favourite of the wealthy, who made merry in the opulence of the ships 253 first class cabins, dining on sumptuous meals, fine wines and copious quantities of champagne.
With the British Empire being the richest on the planet, The Douro would also regularly ship vast quantities of diamonds and gold between the two continents and even had its own bullion room to secure its precious cargo.
However, on its 62nd voyage disaster would strike, almost 32 years previous to the day that the famous Titanic would perish. At 22.45 on the 1st of April 1882, the ship collided with the Spanish steamer Yrurac Bat, leaving both ships incapacitated and condemned to a watery final resting place. All but six of the Douro’s passengers were rescued but its precious cargo of diamonds and gold sunk, presumed lost forever in the deep depths of the Costa del Morte (the Death Coast), infamous for shipwrecks.
With such a large quantity of diamonds and gold aboard, it was inevitable however that there would be attempts to locate and retrieve the Douro’s cargo and there were several failed attempts over the next 113 years. Then, in 1995 a Swedish marine salvage expert by the name of Sverker Hallstrom, using the latest Remotely Operated Vehicle (similar to that used to discover the wreckage of the Titanic), finally located the Douro, lying some 1,500 feet down.
It took a year to then retrieve the precious cargo aboard and what they discovered was incredible. Diamonds, gold bars, gold dust and amazingly 28,000 gold coins, a mixture of Brazilian, Portuguese and British Sovereigns!
Now, 100 years after they were presumed lost forever, a small number of these Sovereigns have made it back to The Royal Mint and we are proud to now be able to offer you a small selection of these coins, certified to be original Queen Victoria Young Head types from the ship wreck of the RMS Douro.