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The treasure of the Fame shipwreck

In the history of navigation, many ships have been named Fame. The one we are interested in was built in 1816 in Calcutta. As a cargo ship, it regularly transited between Great Britain and India for commercial purposes. Six years after its first voyage, it sank in 1822, in the south of Africa, with a bunker filled with precious goods.

The sinking of the Fame in 1822

Unfortunately, very little information has come down to us about its sinking and it is not easy to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Captain William Clark was in command of the ship Fame which was carrying a cargo of various articles. It left Madras on March 5, 1822 and arrived in Table Bay, Cape Town, on May 21.

The Fame was registered in 1822 by Lloyd’s Register as belonging to Palmer & Co. The British maritime classification society notified in the journal No. 5728, of August 27, 1922, that:

“The Fame; Clark, from Bengal and Madras, for London, in beating out of Table Bay on 14th inst. drove on the most rocky part of Sea Point, and became a total wreck; the Passengers and Crew (with the exception of Mr. Coffin, The Purser, Mrs. Miles, Miss Banks, and Master Mayho, Passengers, and four seamen and Invalids) were saved by boats from the bay.”

A report from the day of the accident gives more details. A northerly wind and heavy swell prevented the Fame from staying on course and kept pulling it back toward the coast. Despite the captain’s best efforts to right the ship’s helm, the ship headed straight for the rocks of Sea Point and broke in two. The bow section remained stuck in the rocks, while the stern section sank immediately, taking with it some of the cargo, as well as the trunks filled with coins. Before sinking, the passengers and crew, apart from ten people, were brought to safety by brave boats that came to their rescue.

The ship fell into oblivion until 1965 when the wreck was found. Many coins were found, scattered over a considerable area on the ocean floor.

The treasure of the Fame

No inventory of the Fame treasure is known to this day. In the world of numismatics, however, coins from this shipwreck are prized by collectors. Gold pagodas from India are recognized as belonging to this treasure and sold with their original certificate of authenticity.

Here are two very rare coins from the Fame treasure.

These two gold pagodas are very beautiful examples that give a glimpse of the quality of the Fame treasure as a whole. The first coin shows traces of corrosion due to the sea water, but it has kept a very nice general aspect. Just like the second one, which has kept its golden reflections and its original shine.

Our shop regularly offers world coins, like these gold pagodas from the Fame treasure. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

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