So why did the Atocha have copper ingots?

So why did the Atocha have copper ingots?

October 17, 2022

One of the larger cargos put onboard the Atocha in 1622 for the return voyage to Spain was a 30,000-pound load of copper ingots. 582 copper ingots were loaded onboard the Atocha at Havana, Cuba, the Atocha’s final stop before sailing to Spain.

The copper originated from the Cuban mine at Caridad del Cobre, owned by the Spanish crown. Only three ships carried this royal cargo of copper in the 1622 fleet - the Atocha, Santa Margarita, and Rosario. The primary reason for shipping copper to Spain was the manufacture of bronze cannons.

These ingots are crudely cast, made by pouring molten copper ore into simple depressions in the ground. All the ingots have highly irregular, bumpy surfaces. None bear markings of any sort. The copper ingots were used as ballast, much as the silver bars and coin chests were.

According to archeologist Corey Malcolm, the copper ingots were being shipped in the Atocha’s lower hold, in a distinct cluster beside the silver bars. The copper was stored near the stern, immediately behind the mainmast, while the silver bars and coin chests were just forward of the mainmast.

📸 In the picture, the former crew of the Dare holding a 60-pound copper ingot found on August 2010, (L-R) Captain Papo Garcia, Ivan Fernandez, Parker Redding, Johan Mora, and Tim Dirkes

Learn more about our Treasure Sails Collection made with Atocha Copper