Very Rare Authentic Atocha Gold Money Chain, 56-3/8" Long 595 Links
This is a very rare and beautiful authentic gold chain found in 1986 by the salvage vessel "Swordfish" on the Atocha Shipwreck site.
The 1622 Fleet "Money Chains"
There were many different size chains recovered from the 1622 fleet. One of the interesting findings was that some of the largest chains had links of very pure gold (usually 23K) and each of those links weighed a very specific amount. In fact these links weighed the same as some of the gold coinage that was circulating at the time. Why would this be? Even by the year 1622 the king had not given permission to mint gold coins in the New World, although many had petitioned the court for this to be done. As a consequence there was a shortage of gold coins in the New World to be used in commerce. So these chains are thought to represent a way around this shortage, and were in a very real sense portable wealth.
There was also a lesser tax on jewelry than on bullion so that even the cost of making these chains represented a substantial savings over the creation of bullion pieces and the payment of the Quinto (the royal tax of 20%). Once we had realized that this was a sort of end run around the taxes of the time, as well as a stand in for gold coinage, the chains that had links that represented the weight of coins or certain monetary units were dubbed “money chains”.
Learn more about gold chains from the 1622 Fleet here