An enormous amount of gold and silver was taken from the New World to Spain in the 16th and 17th Century. The present ingot was discovered in 1985, along with other treasure in the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha. The ship was ordered, along with three others in 1616 and was due to be delivered by Alonso Ferrera, a Havana shipbuilder, in July 1619. The delivery of the Atocha was not, however, made until a full year behind schedule, having been completed using substandard materials.
Having dropped off cargo at Cartagena, she was to wait several months and make several stops before she, and the trading fleet known as the Tierra Firma, of which she was part, was fully loaded with its treasure and was ready to depart for Spain on what was to be the Atocha's maiden, and tragically, her only attempt at a transatlantic crossing. When she set sail, she was laden with some 1,000 silver bars, each weighing 70 troy pounds as well as 250 troy pounds of gold, including the present ingot.
Even though it was, by the time they were ready to depart, the height of hurricane season, the calm weather on 4 September 1622 convinced the chief pilot to attempt the crossing, and so the twenty-eight ship fleet set out from Havana. The next day, the terrible mistake the pilot had made was to become clear as the fleet was caught in terrible gales which drove the Atocha, and her sister ship the Santa Magarita, onto the reefs which were to sink both ships, along with their passengers and cargo.