Coins recovered from a West Cornwall shipwreck that still inspire visions of pirates and buried treasure have sold at auction.

The 17th Century Cob and piece of eight were recovered from the wreck of HMS Association, lost at sea in 1707.

Sold by Hanson's Auctioneers in Derbyshire the coins were found after the ship, which launched from Portsmouth Dockyard in 1697 and fought at capture of Gibraltar,  was dredged up 300 years later in 1967.

One was a 17th century ‘COB,’ a Spanish currency. Unusually shaped, this coin details the history of Spain, as this currency was cut crudely into shapes of an accurate weight, in preparation for its melting down and using in jewellery. 

Also uncovered from the wreck was an example of the infamous pieces of eight. As the world’s first global currency these were used across the vast Spanish Empire.


These coins have featured in popular culture for centuries, often associated with merciless battles on the seven seas. In Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Long John Silver’s parrot had been trained to cry out “Pieces of eight!”  while in Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe sells his native companion Xury for sixty pieces of eight.

They also popped up in the more recent Pirates of the Caribbean.