Treasure hunter finds 17th century coin that once belonged to pirate
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WJAR) —
Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown covers more than 100 acres.
Armed with a metal detector in 2014, Jim Bailey unearthed a small, silver coin about the size of an American dime. It has Arabic etchings on its faces and historians say it is from the 1690s and belonged, at one time, to the infamous pirate Henry Every.
"In the late 17th century, the American colonies were engaged in piracy in the Red Sea,” said Bailey.
That included pirates based in Newport.
Every, however, was an Englishman. He plundered a ship off the coast of India and came away with hundreds of thousands of gold and silver pieces. He then fled to the Bahamas and paid off the governor to turn the other cheek about his presence there. He loaded Caribbean slaves onto a new ship, along with his plunder, and set sail to Newport.
The slaves on board allowed him to pose as a slave trader, and not the now internationally-wanted pirate. It also bought him time to use his bounty.
"The bulk of these coins all went to the local silversmith," said Bailey. "They went into the crucible and they were all melted down and then wound up on everybody's dinner table in the form of plates, cups...this is one that fell out of the bag before it got to the local silversmith's shop."
It's difficult to put an exact price on the piece, but Bailey told NBC 10 that he would walk the plank before he sold it.
Bailey keeps his present-day bounty in a safe-deposit box and said he is going to keep searching in the dirt on Aquidneck Island for whatever other secrets may be buried there.