One of a kind the Mel Fisher Museum shows the collections of one family and their team of workeres and the results of their work in marine salvaging. I found out about it when daytripping to Key West on a tour. (See my Key West journal)
The museum features a 25 minute movie about their work and explains the museum itself. When you walk through, the workroom is right there and you can see from the experts how to preserve metal or anything that has been in the ocean for hundreds of years.
China cups were dredged up from the ocean floor by a special method, invented by Mel Fisher, of blowing the sand off salvaged articles instead of suction, that avoids damage to the articles. They're on display here. They look as good as the day they were produced in China. They're priceless. They were packed in mud to avoid breaking and were still in the mud when they were found in the ocean hundreds of years later.
Jewels intended for a royal queen were located from the wrecks of a fleet of Spanish galleons that went down off the coast of Sebastian in 1715 were found and are on display here.
Mel Fisher hired experts to research shipwrecked galleons off the coast of Florida. They worked with the national archives in Seville in Spain. Because of that research Mel was able to find the long lost Atocha that went down in 1622 off Key West. He lost a son serching for it. Articles from that wreck are on display.
The gift shop has alot of good books about salvaging. Buying a real salvaged coin here is authentic but very expensive. I was able to purchase a cob (coin produced the way these were) from a reputable dealer in Ft. Lauderdale for a lot less. It had papers and was salvaged from the Atocha by Mel Fisher. Once the salvaged articles are on the market the price goes down.
Watch out for flea market dealers and salvagers someone happens to know. I saw a great reproduced cob bracelet at a flea market in Sebastian, FL for $35.00 and it was really well done. The artist was selling it as a reproduction. Its not hard to reproduce one of these coins so beware. This museum sells reproductions but tells you that's what they are. They sell great inexpensive metal reproductions for the kids.
See also Mel Fisher
by Mary Dickinson
May 8, 2003
From journal Hunting Treasure Off The Coast Of Florida