Experts found a tiny gold combined toothpick and earwax spoon, believed to be more than 385 years old, during the search for a shipwrecked Spanish galleon off the Florida Keys.
The late 16th or early 17th century grooming tool, which weighs only about an ounce, was located Sunday by Blue Water Ventures diver Chris Rackley as he searched the area about 22 feet below the surface and 40 miles west of Key West. He says its value could exceed $100,000.
The divers, who are searching the shipwreck trail of the Spanish galleon Santa Margarita that sank in a 1622 hurricane, also recovered ceramic pieces, spikes, ships' fittings, rigging elements and two skeleton keys.
"We were on the trail on the Margarita site following the artifact scatter pattern to the north," said Blue Water head archaeologist Dr. R. Duncan Mathewson. "This is the furthest point on that trail where gold has ever been found before, so it confirms that we're on the right trail."
The search for Santa Margarita artifacts began more than a quarter-century ago by the late Key West treasure hunter Mel Fisher. Today, the Blue Water team is leading that search under a joint-venture partnership with the Fisher family owned company, Motivation Inc.
Almost a year ago, Blue Water divers located gold bars, gold chains and a lead box containing thousands of pearls that were carried by the Margarita. The value of that find was estimated at more than $2 million.