Story Recounted in Edward Rowe Snows Book called Great Atlantic Adventures 1970.
I first heard of Bermudas Edward Bolton (Teddy) Tucker in 1955, when Bob Nesmith of Rye, New York, told me that both Teddy and I had been placed on a board of treasure finders and seekers from many areas of the world.
The earliest that any of my friends knew Teddy was in 1932, when at the age of seven Teddy rowed across the inner Bermuda Harbour to visit Norman Black and his wife, summer inhabitants of Cliff Island, Maine. Even then Teddy was interested in the mysteries of the sea.
The first time we met Teddy Tucker, Black notes, he rowed across the harbor from his home to welcome us to our new place in Trelone, Paget, near Pomander Castle, Bermuda. A young lad of about seven years, he handled his boat beautifully. Teddy rowed over to our wharf and climbed out. He said I am Teddy Tucker and I said I am happy to meet you. He pointed out his home across the harbor.
He wanted to know if we liked fish. I said yes, if it was broiled. He was quite taken back because he meant live fish. He left with the promise to return tomorrow, at which time he brought some beautiful fish, shells, and corals.
The next day he came with a pail of water and sea weed floating on top. He said, I brought you some sea horses. I was very interested because I had never seen one alive. He said, They wont be any trouble. Just change the water four times every night.
These animals hung on the seaweed straight up and down. There were very fascinating. They were like coats hanging on hooks. I told him I was afraid I might forget to change the water and asked him to keep them for me and bring them over often for me to see.
He said, They are very interesting. The father has a pouch like a kangaroo. The mother puts her eggs in the pouch and the father takes care of them until they hatch and can take care of themselves. The mother goes out and has a good time.
Another day he took me to see the turtles. They were in a cement pool with a wooden grating for a cover. These turtles were brought up by vessels from the West Indies. Thursday night was always green turtle night at the yacht club. Lots of people took it home for supper. The turtles were lifted up by tripods and taken on a scow to the club.
Then he took us to see an octopus. We went to the next wharf and got down on our knees and looked into the pool and sure enough in a corner was an octopus. Now, he said, do you want to see him turn black? He poked him with a stick. Instantly everything got cloudy and the water turned black.
Teddys interest in diving began by meeting Alec Lawrence whose father brought him as a boy from Canada to work on the cement docks at the harbor. Teddy took us over to see the outfit. The diving barge was round, fat, and chubby. She chugged along and her name was Grandma.
Teddy took us over to see the old-fashioned diving outfit and a helper who manned the air pump. Alec would go down at 8am and not come up until 12, have lunch and go down at 1pm and come up at 4pm No coffee break at all.
Teddy could sit on his porch overlooking the harbor and see all the shipping that comes to Bermuda, the English vessels, and the famous old Bermuda boats. Then he saw the King and Monarch of Bermuda, built especially for the shallow runs; the racing yachts from New York and trade vessels; the Lady boat that ran from the West Indies to Canada carrying bananas. Three of these fruit boats were destroyed by the German submarines. The fruit boats would come into the harbor once a week flying flags and a band would be playing. It was a wonderful sight for a young boy.
Near his home was a branch or arm to the harbor. In time of hurricanes all the small boats rushed there for protection.
In 1948 Teddy tucker and his brother-in-law Robert Canton teamed up to go all-out seeking pirate treasure in the rich area around the reefs of Bermuda.
Professional divers with years of underwater experience, Tucker had worked at such ordinary projects as bringing up copper metal and other materials from the bootom in moderate depths. The son of archtect Edward Tucker, Teddy found the project strenuous, steady, but after a regular diet, almost boring.
Tucker earned a fair income from his efforts, but dreamed of the days when a real Spanish galleon would be discovered somewhere on the bottom off Bermuda, a galleon such as Phips of Maine had found in 1687. But Teddy Tucker realized that hed have to continue his regular salvage work while hopefully diving for galleons.
It is far too expensive, he once remarked, for it is easier than you think to spend a hundred pounds a week.
There are at least two hundred craft still undiscovered on the many reefs and coral ledges, but so far it has been a wild goose chase.
Nevertheless, Teddys luck changed in 1951, when he went to the bottom eight miles from the mainland. Diving in shorts and a mask he sighted a number of round objects partly buried in sand thirty feet down.
Excitedly, he went to the bottom and found that the objects were six ships cannon, each weighing at least five hundred to nine hundred pounds. Eventually the venerable specimens of ancient armament became the property of the Bermuda Historical Monuments Trust, and are on exhibition at the Government Aquarium at the present time.
Teddy knows instantly what type of object a piece of coral may be growing around, be it oblong, square, or round. For example, he knows that coral will never grow on gold, but is well aware that wood, iron, still, or even clay is often covered by coral growth.
And so it was one day in August 1955, when he went to the bottom that his gifted fingers running through the sand fastened on a cube or genuine gold cut from a bar. When gold is brought to the surface its brilliant yellow glow simply overwhelms the happy finder.
With the cube as a delightful inspiration, Teddy went to work with renewed energy. Making several thirty-foot dives every day, he succeeded in bringing up truly marvelous artifacts. Important finds included swords, breastplates, silver coins and gold, and many other priceless artifacts.
Then came the amazing discovery, which electrified the entire diving world, a beautifully worked cross containing seven perfectly matched Colombian emeralds set in gold! From that moment on Teddy became the hero of scuba divers everywhere, for he had discovered a fabulous cross probably belonging either to a bishop or a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
Dr. Mendel L. Peterson, curator of the Smithsonian Institution Department of Naval History, was so interested that he journeyed to Bermuda to inspect the treasure. After examining the find, he is quoted as saying that Teddy Tuckers cross of gold, and silver is the outstanding marine archaeological discovery made in the western hemisphere in this century. Then Peterson actually identified a silver coin as from the fist Mexican mint of about four centuries ago!
After the excitement died down. Teddy Tucker discussed his good fortune. Tucker said that the galleon he found, because of the position in which he discovered her, probably went to the bottom in a northwesterly gale. He estimates that the craft was lost before 1600, probably in January or February, the months when northwesterly winds prevail.
Possibly the galleon discovered by tucker struck the outer reefs, was transfixed there, and went to pieces, for practically nothing identifiable of the hull is left. Samples of the timbers were sent to Hans Ptien in the United States for examination. Although the material has been under water more than a third of a millennium, it was identified as coming from the coast of Spain or France.
After all this time the numbering and lettering on the gold brought up is still clear and legible. The famous Spanish coinage expert Robert I. Nesmith says that the numbers X to XXIV on the coins are probably tally marks given to the gold shipment on a specific galleon. One gold bar has the Roman numerical XXI and the name Pinto. The gold could have come from Mexico, Colombia, Rio Pinto, Ecuador, Venezuela, or Peru.
Nesmith tells us that the route the Spaniards followed was carefully planned. Vessles known as avisos*
*Relatively small, fast, lateen-rigged, courier-type craft. They were like the felucca developed by the Arabs for sailing close to the wind.
Did much of the message-carrying between Spain and the new world, and an empty galleon starting out from the Iberian peninsula to sail back with treasure had a definite schedule. When she was loaded in the new World for her return to Spain, a speedy aviso would start out ahead of her to warn the plate fleet of her coming.
Eventually the Spanish realized that the galleons sailing too close to what they came to call the dreaded Isles of Devils often ended up on the Bermuda coral reefs, and this had been the fate of the galleon whose bones Teddy Tucker found in 1955 underwater beneath the shifting sands.
The treasure which Teddy Tucker has brought up include much more than gold and silver, for he has located swivel guns, ancient hand grenades, brass dividers, timing glasses, brass cylinders with sliding covers, and bronze mortars. He also recovered from the sea pewter plates, porringers, red ware food containers, pottery cruets, and Indian artifacts.
The cannon from one wreck were typical of the late sixteenth century. Four cannon were identical, although cannon rarely matched each other in this period. Nevertheless, this group included such dissimilar weapons that I was suggested the wreck might be a pirate craft. The inscription on the bronze mortar reads Petrus Van Den Gein Me Fecit 1561. Research indicates that Van Den Gein was a sixteenth-century caster of mortars, bells and cannons, then lining in Belgium.
The emerald-studded cross, Tuckers pride and joy is said to be one of the most valuable pieces of sunken treasure ever found.