A trio of adventurers has announced a modern-day, deep sea treasure hunt to find a coin that changed worldwide communications forever and saw the first step toward the creation of a global community.
Founders of one of the world’s first subsea cable recycling companies, Sebastian Stephens and Russell Parsons, along with team member Richard Wills, will be joined by a captain and crew as they set off on the ambitious adventure. The voyage will mark the hunt for a historic piece of treasure hidden in deep ocean waters – a coin that was embedded into the world’s first transatlantic cable which paved the way for the invention of the internet and other technologies we enjoy today, and indeed increasingly rely on amidst a global pandemic.
The intrepid trio have pledged to embark on the ambitious expedition to find the special sixpence, placed at the core of the subsea cable laid over 150 years ago, in 1858, with a herculean effort by visionary entrepreneur Cyrus West Field. They plan to set off in June, around the anniversary of the original voyage taken by Cyrus and his team.
A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help fund the voyage, with the ambition of raising a minimum target of £40,000, to allow the team to fund the necessities of the trip including a captain and crew, an extended ship lease and indeed the equipment required to retrieve a coin from the bottom of the ocean. Setting off from the Irish coast, Sebastian, Russell, Richard and their team will head toward Newfoundland in Canada, mirroring the original route taken by the legendary Cyrus West Field back in 1858.
Leader of the treasure hunt, Sebastian Stephens explains; “Cyrus West Field connected the Old World to the New World for the first time ever in history over 150 years ago. Achieving what many thought was impossible, Cyrus laid a cable from Nova Scotia, Canada all the way to Ireland. He helped to connect the UK and US, which resulted in the long time Anglo-American relationship still evident today.
He continues; “For good luck, Cyrus welded a sixpence into a joint in the cable somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. It’s a piece of history that’s almost been forgotten, but we’re determined to retell Cyrus’ story. We’re setting out to find the coin and remind the world where global communications began. You don’t often get the chance to touch history, especially the stories submerged under the sea, but Field’s work took blood, sweat and tears, and we want to shine a light on how pivotal this moment in time was.”
In a nod to the story of the cable and coin’s creation, the team also plan to use their expertise in subsea cable recycling, to recover some of the out of service cable to create celebratory souvenirs for investors in their crowdfunding campaign.
Russell explains; “Alongside others, the Smithsonian Museum and Research Organisation collected and displayed much of the original excess cable, following Cyrus’ incredible achievement.US luxury jewellery firm, Tiffany’s, turned some of the cable into souvenir items such as letter openers, paperweights and walking cane handles. We want to bring that part of the story to life again too, and ensure it continues to live on, so we will be following suit and offering our investors a chance to own either part of the cable, or a newly created piece of artwork made from the cable itself, so that our crowdfunding investors get to own a small piece of treasure of their own.”
The voyage is also being commended by Erick W Contag, Executive Chairman of GlobeNet and President of the SubOptic Association – the non-profit association active in the international undersea communications industry and global authority on the submarine cable community.
Erick adds; “Today,99% of communications still take place via undersea cables, so we have a lot to thank Cyrus West Field for! Furthermore, the [US] FCC estimate that over $10 trillion of transactional value are transmitted every day across our subsea cables – greater than the combined GDP of Japan, Germany, and Australia!
“Through this treasure hunt, Sebastian, Russell and Richard, are paying homage to subsea über entrepreneur Cyrus West Field. Best wishes and success to their team and supporters in finding the coin! Let the adventure begin!”
In 1858, the fastest ships would take two weeks to send a message. The cable laid by Cyrus West Field meant a full message could be relayed in hours. Its impact was immediate and revolutionary. The first communication on the cable took place between Queen Victoria and 15th US President, James Buchanan.
The cable not only connected nations, but it also allowed bankers to benefit from real-time exchange rates. The cable is the reason why bankers today still call the dollar-sterling pairing ‘The Cable’.
For more information, and to find out more about the crowdfunding campaign, please visit the official Find the Coin website and crowdfunding pages, and their social media platforms.