Gold Bar Physical Object

Accession Number
Alternate object names
Gold;Gold Ingot;Ingot
A portion of a gold disc recovered from the wreck of the 1622 galleon Santa Margarita. The original, larger disc was partially cut with a chisel and then broken into segments at these scores. This was intended to be two pieces but they were not broken apart. This chunk bears a partial mark of III•••, almost certainly a remnant of the Roman numeral XXIIII••• meaning the gold is 23 3/4 karats, or nearly pure gold. Dimensions: 8.7 cm L x 5.4 cm W x 1.9 cm H x 848.0 grams.


1.9 cm H x 5.4 cm W x 8.7 cm L , Item (Overall)

848 g Weight

1.9 cm Thickness

8.7 x 5.4 x 1.9 cm Weight: 848.0 grams Previous registrar weight: 848.7 grams. Weight difference probably caused by expert taking sample for purity measurement.

Exhibition Label
Case/Object Caption (2023):

The impressively casual way in which these gold discs, bars, and chunks have been cast speaks to the haste in which the great wealth of the Americas was shipped to Spain each year. However, once the gold was formed into these shapes, it was carefully inventoried. Roman numerals certify the purity of gold in karats, indicating that the pieces here are between 20 and 23 karats out of a possible 24. Other marks show that the gold came from the Colombian Andes. Colonial governments were not yet allowed to mint gold coins when the fleet sailed, so shipping gold in these rough ingots was the only way to get it to Europe. The half disc weighs 2701.7 grams – a bit over 87 Troy ounces or nearly six pounds.