On July 25, 1956, the Italian luxury passenger liner SS Andrea Doria and the Swedish ship, The MS Stockholm collided off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. This disaster happened in the thick fog of the night and lead to the loss of 46 lives but, unlike other ocean disasters, most people survived. There were over 1600 Andrea Doria survivors. The Andrea Doria eventually capsized and sank in about 150 feet of water.
Luxury Onboard the Andrea Doria
The Andrea Doria was a luxury ship with appointments and elegance that reminded many travelers of the Queen Mary and the Titanic. So when it sank, it sank with a lot of expensive items. And because it sank in only 150 feet of water close to land, the wreckage site became an attraction to professional divers and treasure hunters. Divers picked over the site for many years and in 1968 an Andrea Doria movie was made showing divers and the wreckage site.
Expectations Fall Short
There was a lot of speculation that there were big treasures and Andrea Doria artifacts in the first-class ship safe. In 1984, divers found and opened the safe and televised their actions live. While they were hoping for jewels and gold, they found bundles of US $1 Silver Certificates, Italian banknotes and some American Express checks. At least they found something valuable unlike Geraldo Rivera who two-years later opened an empty Al Capone vault on TV.
What happened to the recovered items?
Many of the valuables brought up by divers have been auctioned off. The rarity of having an item that was part of a historic event and was underwater for 20+ years. The Silver Certificates and Italian Banknotes have become collector’s items. Because the paper currency was damaged while the bundles were in salt water for so long, the notes are provided in acrylic blocks and certified as authentic by a grading company.
In conclusion these banknotes are historic and make a beautiful display item; as a result hey also make for a great conversation piece!
*Additional Sources: Image Main Thumb | Andrea Doria Capsizing | Wikimedia