El Cazador (ship)

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Name: El Cazador
Fate: Wrecked early-1784
General characteristics
Type: Two-masted brig of war
Length: 90 feet
1777 8 Reale coin from the El Cazador Shipwreck. This coin is in the private collection of H. Blair Howell

The El Cazador (meaning The Hunter in English) was a Spanish brig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 1784. In the 1770s the Spanish Louisiana Territory’s economy was faltering due to paper money that was not backed by silver or gold. Carlos III, King of Spain, decided to replace the worthless currency with valuable Spanish silver coins. [1] On 20 October 1783 Charles III of Spain sent her on a mission to bring much-needed hard currency to the Spanish colony of Louisiana in order to stabilize the currency. The ship sailed to Veracruz, Mexico, where she was loaded with approximately 450,000 Spanish reales.[2] To be more precise, she was loaded with silver Spanish coins, mostly 8 reales, “Pieces of Eight,” It carried 400,000 silver pesos and another 50,000 pesos worth of smaller change, of various dates. At one ounce to the peso, and 12 troy ounces to the pound, that's 37,500 pounds of silver. [3] King Carlos III enlisted his most trusted captain, Gabriel de Campos y Pineda, to command the ship.[4] On 11 January 1784, she sailed for New Orleans, and was never heard from again.[5][6] Spain’s attempts to locate the ship were unsuccessful and in June 1784, El Cazador was officially listed as missing at sea.[4]

Then on 2 August 1993, the trawler Mistake, Captain Jerry Murphy and home port Pascagoula, Mississippi, was fishing in the Gulf of Mexico fifty miles south of New Orleans. As it fished, Mistake's net hung on a snag. When the crew hoisted the net and dumped the contents on the deck, they found the net was filled with silver coins. The coins bore markings from the Spanish mint in Mexico, along with the date 1783.[7][8]

Treasure from the ship was originally housed in a safe at the old Grand Bay State Bank building in Grand Bay, Alabama. In December 2004 the Executors of the Reahard estate hired Jonathan Lerner of Scarsdale Coin to appraise the coins. This appraisal was completed in February 2005.

It is now administered through the Franklin Mint.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "8 Reales, The Coin that Could have Started Another War". Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  2. ^ Jacob Laurence. The Shipwreck that Changed the World. Mobile Bay Mag. PMT Publishing.
  3. ^ "8 Reales, The Coin that Could have Started Another War". Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "El Cazador 1784". Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  5. ^ "El Cazador (Official website)". Archived from the original on 2009-03-10. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
  6. ^ Carpenter, Will, The Life and Times: Researching and Writing American Local History, Cookeville, TN: History Works Publisher, 2009, p.22
  7. ^ National Parks Magazine, Winter 2006, National Park Service
  8. ^ 1784 Spanish Ship is Found in the Gulf, New York Times, Dec. 19, 1993