Sunken Treasure


   A  few months ago was the centennial commemoration of the sinking of history’s most famous ship, the Titanic.  Everything about the ship seems to capture our imagination:  how the ship was built, what type of passengers, how long did it take to sink.  I do not even know why it was called the Titanic?  As a young child I remember my older talking about how it sank on it’s maiden voyage.  At the time I did not know what maiden meant.  It is interesting how a person remembers quirky things like that.  The Titanic may indeed offer a huge reward to deep sea treasure hunters, but its real value is the treasure it offers to history.  Unsinkable it was said to be, and yet it sank on its first trans-Atlantic ocean voyage.  So much for British arrogance.  I included Titanic on the game board of Treasure Trove because it was one of the first deep sea treasures that came to my mind.  There is not anything new I can add as far as information regarding the Titanic, just that any of its artifacts will obviously bring a good financial reward.

Titanic on the game board of Treasure Trove

Sunken Subs

My wife and I recently finished watching a TV show called White Collar.  We will find a series on Netflix and spend a month watching a previously run TV series.  We may watch about five episodes a week.  White Collar began running in 2009. 

            The final episode that we have seen involved finding a villain who had found a lost World War II submarine that had sunk off the North American coast.  In this case it was a lost German sub.  The storyline hinted that the Nazi sub had left Germany just before the war was lost and was probably headed for South America.  It obviously did not complete its journey.  But what was so special about this sub?

            Evidently it was carrying lots of European war loot including priceless paintings, stolen jewelry, and lots of gold and silver coins.  The value would be in the billions of dollars in today’s market.   You will have to watch the show to find out if the sub is located, much less salvaged, and how much of the treasure was still intact.  We will watch to see if Netflix will continue with the next season. It was fun to contemplate the possibility of that much treasure ever being found.  It would have been the greatest treasure find of all time.

            The story was not very realistic in my opinion, but the idea of finding a sunken sub and salvaging some of the cargo is very possible.  A few months ago I watched a documentary about a U boat found in the North Sea that will prove to be difficult to salvage because of the depth of the water, and because of the volatile nature of the cargo.  This particular sub was also one of the last to leave Germany before the end of the war and was headed for Japan.  It carried material that would have helped the Japanese in their quest to develop an atomic bomb.  I believe that the sub carried lots of canisters of mercury which the Japanese needed in order to continue their research.  The sub was filled with containers holding the liquid metal.

            It is feared disturbing the metal containers which have been in salt water for over 60 years could actually cause a release of the mercury.  On the hand if nothing is done, the containers will eventually corrode to the point of releasing the contaminant.  At some point something will need to be done.  This is one sub with no valuable cargo, just dangerous cargo.

            There is something fascinating about locating sunken submarines.  It is doubtful many of them had treasure although a few most certainly carried gold bullion.  Yet they all have a story to tell:  a piece of history in the mosaic of mankind’s endless struggle between nations.  When I created Treasure Trove decades ago, I choose to place a sunken sub in the North Sea.  I have since found that children playing the game are quite intrigued with the idea of a sunken sub.  It is one of their favorite treasure pieces to collect while playing the game.   


A Serendipity Find


logoIn March of 2009 I read in my local newspaper of a Greek fisherman making the catch of a lifetime.  As he struggled to haul in what he thought was a monster fish, the catch turned out to be 2,200 years old, but it was no fish.  Instead it turned out to be a portion of a large ancient bronze statue.  The find occurred  near the islands of Kos and Kalymnos of the Aegean Sea. kos kalymnos

The Greek Culture Minister said the 2ND century B.C. corroded metal was a portion of an ancient statue of a horseman.  The bronze piece was that of a male rider wearing an ornate breast plate.  The trunk of the horseman and his right arm were retrieved, including a sheathed sword.  The article did not specify how big the statue was.  

I am not a fisherman nor am I a treasure hunter, but if I were, it would be nice to make an accidental finding of a lifetime such as this Greek fisherman.  To be fortunate enough to discover something different than what you are seeking would be a neat experience, a serendipitous experience to be more accurate.  Serendipity is one of my favorite words in the English language.  The first time I heard the word it was used in the context that when Columbus discovered the New World it was an accident because he was searching for the orient.  His discovery of America was a serendipitous experience.

While playing the board game Treasure Trove there are 72 situation cards, 12 for each continent.  One of the cards for Africa reads as follows:

 Serengeti Serendipity Card


I think as we journey through life we can all have a number of pleasant experiences  occur where we discover or find a different but good thing we were not expecting while we were actually trying to achieve or find something else.  I suspect our lives are full of serendipitous findings.  To catch these treasured experiences one may not have to hunt as much as it seems but, rather, keep an open heart.

Footnote:  One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was the 105 foot bronze statue at the harbor entrance to the ancient city of Rhodes near present day Turkey and Greece.  The Colossus of Rhodes represented the sun god Helios was built in the 3rd century B.C. but unfortunately was destroyed by an earthquake within a century.

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Chinese Junk



I cannot recall the first time I heard, “Chinese junk.”  It may have been in the early 1960’s when my father visited the orient with an assignment for the military and talked about people living on little boats called Chinese junks.  Maybe I saw it in some movie about the orient.  I  do recall my brothers and I had a curious giggle about what Chinese junk was.  Dad told us it was not what we thought, but actually little wooden boats that the people of the orient use to fish with.  I also recall hearing the phrase, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

When I was originally thinking of treasure spaces for the game board of TreasureTrove I thought it would be interesting to have one called, “Chinese Junk.”  In the booklet included with the game describing each treasure space I wrote:

“Chinese  Junk:  One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,

especially if it is an old sunk junk.”…………collect a treasure note.

chinese junk

I was trying to appeal to the mind of child who may be playing the game and actually learn what a Chinese junk really is.  I was pleasantly surprised when that is exactly what happened. 38CAP5N6COCADZAOJLCAO70VQNCAYSFRLHCAECG8XOCAQOXZBUCAQQB39BCAV1P4Y4CAURIYNVCAZY58A4CAESSV24CAJ1TI9OCA6MCIN4CAR06KPYCAKP02PRCANB69DFCAUGVRPBCAVU0DPMCAIQOZR1

An eight year old was looking at the game one day and asked, “What is, Chinese Junk?”  I explained that it is a small wooden Chinese boat used for fishing.  To be honest I often think of the boat people of Hong Kong that work and live on small junks.  For centuries Hong Kong used to have thousands of junks in its harbor where the people would live on them.  Called the boat people they would pass on the family tradition from one generation to the next.  As Hong Kong has modernized the last 60 years the numbers of the boat people have dwindled.  Probably less than a few hundred junks are in the harbor today.  The city is desperately trying to keep this rich cultural heritage alive.  I visited Honk Kong once, found it to be a beautiful city with friendly people and I enjoyed my one hour journey on a Chinese junk.


Ships of the Orient were called junks for centuries but more recently it seems that only the Chinese have been connected to the term.  As sea going vessels they were well built, sturdy, large, and sailed the oceans many centuries ago.  Chinese junks were known to have been sailing as early as the 3rd century.  Some of the biggest vessels to have ever sailed the high seas came from China; some actually hundreds of feet long.  They traveled great distances and are known to have reached the southern tip of Africa before Europeans sailed the Cape of Good Hope.  They were excellent cargo ships which transported goods such as porcelain from China all throughout the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.

chinese porcelainLong after I started playing Treasure Trove with my family did I find that within recent years several Chinese junks have been salvaged and the cargos have been quite valuable?   In 2004, a 400 year old Chinese junk was found off the coast of Vietnam.  The porcelain cargo is valued at over one million dollars.  By coincidence that is almost exactly where I originally placed the treasure space on the board back in 1989.boxtop

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