Right column
You are here:
  1. Home
  2. Collection
  3. Underwater sites
  4. Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes


Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes

Catalogación y estabilización de las piezas numismática de la fragata ‘Mercedes’ en el ARQUA

In 1802, Spain, England and France signed the Peace of Amiens, after a long war period, this moment was used by Spain so that in October 1802, the Secretary of State and Treasury Department gave an order to collect the retained coiins on the south america's mints.

In June 1803, and after picking up what was ordered in the port of Lima, they left for Montevideo, from which they would later leave for Cadiz, it would be at this moment that La Asunción, which suffered several damages, would be replaced by La Medea.

After a calm navigation, with only some problems derived from a fever that attacked the crew, and when there was only one day of navigation to reach Cadiz, the Spanish squadron was reached by an English squadron, commanded by Commodore Graham Moore and constituted by the Indefatigable, Lively, Amphion and Medusa. After a brief parliament, the English squadron began the attack before the Spanish refusal to surrender, because they were in a moment of peace and therefore the English had no right to the attack. Five minutes after the start of the battle, a cannon went to where the gunpowder is stored, on La Mercedes, which caused it to explode and sink. After this loss on the part of the Spanish squadron, and although the battle continued , finally the rest of Spanish frigates were captured and taken to the port of Plymouth, where the flows that were taken were seized by England.

Finally the crew and officers were released and the Spanish State indemnified the individuals who embarked goods on the frigates.

Two hundred years later, on May 18, 2007, the US company Odyssey Marine Exploration announced in the media that it had transported a cargo of 500,000 gold and silver coins to the United States but did not give any information about the identity of the wreck from which the extraction originates or the exact location of the extraction.

The Spanish government, in the face of suspicion that a Spanish ship could be treated, because of the place where the company had been working, and because of the contents of the cargo published, decides to wage a legal battle against the treasures haut company in the courts of United States, first, to the Tampa court, where the company had carried the cargo.

Finally, on February 14, 2012, the US courts give the final reason to the Spanish State. The operation was then launched to return the cargo to Spain, after which the cargo, about 14 tons in weight, was moved by Hercules of the Air Force and landed in Spain on 25 February 2012 and the 2nd of december that same year, the shipment was definitively deposited in the National Museum of Underwater Archeology, designated depository of definitive charter by Ministerial Order.

The frigate Mercedes transported in its warehouses, as recorded in the State of the flows, goods and effects recorded by the accountants of the Royal Customs of Lima, about two million pesos between money and silver and gold paste:

  • 972,480 pesos, of which 5,809 were gold coins.
  • 950,621 in silver paste and 415 castellanos of gold.
  • Through the records of the Royal Customs of Lima, we know in detail the rest of products and merchandise that embarked on the frigate:
  • A triplicate box of gold and silver coins minted in the Real House of the Currency of Lima in 1803.
  • 403 bars of copper and 1,964 of tin.
  • Two useless bronze cannons.
  • Along with the flows of the King and of individuals, other products were navigating to stand out for the value he had at that time for medicine. It is the husk, plant from which quinine was extracted necessary for the elaboration of medicines against diseases like malaria. Much less common, but not least, is the shipping of ratania extract, a medicinal plant that, because of its high tannin content, is a powerful astringent and antiseptic. The shipment was addressed to Hipólito Ruiz, a botanist of Burgos origin who introduced the use of this drug in Europe.
  • Several quantities of vicuña wool had also been shipped, skins of various animals such as chinchilla, guanaco, skunks, tiger or leopard, as well as lions and sea lions.
  • Among other products registered can be noted as a set of cutlery composed of two ladles, a handle to take chocolate, a candelabrum and twelve teaspoons of worked silver; A golden yew (similar to an ingot, although flat and slightly curved); Or a drawer lined with leather which contained, among other objects, a gold mallet.