La Nuestra Senora de Atocha, constructed in Havana Harbor, left the port of Havana on September 4, 1622, after much delay in construction. She was one of twenty-eight vessels in the Terre Firme Fleet, heading to Spain with trade goods and treasure. On the Fifth of September, disaster struck as Northeast winds from a massive hurricane scattered the Fleet 60 miles North of the coast of Cuba.
Treasures of the Atocha and her sister ship, the Santa Margarita, went undiscovered until July of 1985, though Spain attempted a salvage immediately after the wreck occurred.
An estimated $450,000,000.00 worth of Spanish treasure was recovered by Mel Fisher and his team of divers in the mid-to-late eighties, though a large portion of the remaining treasure has yet to be found, according to the ship's manifest.
The Atocha is widely known as the "greatest treasure ever found," in terms of overall value and difficulty of salvage. The treasures recovered on the Atocha vary from gold and silver coins that were minted in the New World Spanish colonies, Colombian Emeralds from the famed Muzo Mine, and handcrafted treasures intended for the King and Queen of Spain, Noblemen, and Clergy.
Coins from the Atocha are known by collectors as "cobs," a loose translation of "Cabo de Barra", or "End of the Bar", referring to the technique in which these handmade coins were created. They are crude, and irregular on the edges, though some of the first coins minted in the New World were exquisitely created by indigenous artisans trained in the Spanish style.