Four silver coins picked up by a scuba diver some 30 years ago from a 17th-century shipwreck in Western Australia have resurfaced.
Dutch trading vessel the Batavia had been on her maiden journey from Amsterdam, heading for her namesake city, the capital of the Dutch East Indies in what is now Indonesia. She sank on Morning Reef near Beacon Island, since known as Batavia’s Graveyard, in 1629.
The male diver, who had taken the coins from the wreck in the early 1990s, recently moved to Queensland from Western Australia, and when he applied for a permit to keep his treasure trove he came to the attention of federal police.
Taking objects from historic shipwrecks has been illegal in Australia since 1976, and the diver was said to have “willingly” given up the coins after being made aware of this fact.
The Batavia became notorious because of a mutiny in which 115 of the crew died. The coins pre-date by a considerable margin British settlement in Australia – the oldest was minted in the 1560s and the newest in 1623.
They will now join other Batavia exhibits at the Western Australian Shipwrecks Museum in Fremantle.