1 Dec 2012

Silver treasure displayed

12:47 pm on 1 December 2012

Spain has displayed some of the treasure from a galleon that sank more than 200 years ago.

The Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes sank off the coast of Portugal near the straits of Gibraltar in 1804 with more than 500,000 silver coins estimated to be now worth 620 million euros ($US500 million).

The BBC reports the treasure was delivered from Florida in February after Spain won a five-year legal dispute in the United States over its ownership.

Only a small portion of the items have been displayed in Madrid. They included a block of encrusted silver coins stuck together after centuries under water, two gold tobacco boxes and a bronze pulley were among some of the items shown.

After it is fully catalogued, the silver will be put on display in a museum of underwater archaeology in Cartagena.

So far, 574,553 silver coins and 212 gold coins have been counted, as well as other items.

The BBC reports the metals were mined and the coins minted in the Andes, from places that are now in Bolivia, Chile and Peru.