The Real Gold Coins



CHARLESTON , SC  A  1860 $20 gold piece that lay on the bottom of Charleston Harbor for more than 137 years is in the center of a potential legal dispute between the "caretakers" of a Civil War artifact and the operators of a museum, the World War II aircraft carrier, Yorktown. The Yorktown Museum at Patriot's Point is in a battle to be the home location of the HUNLEY SUBMARINE. 

Other local and international businesses including the  owner of the website The Hunley.Com that use the name HUNLEY are also involved in lawsuits with The Friends of the Hunley, Inc. and Warren Lasch. Warren Lasch, from Michigan is no stranger to lawsuits.

The Patriot's Point Maritime Museum,  state funded and supported through tax dollars, was selling replicas of the coin, found on the Confederate submarine  THE CSS H L Hunley, for $9.95 with the profits going to the state.
 NOTE: The replica coin selling on ebay. Patriot's Point Maritime Museum price was 9.95, ebays price was 16.69.

But that has stopped since the Friends of the Hunley, Inc. (a private non-profit organization) told the museum, anchored by the Yorktown aircraft carrier, it didn't have permission to sell the replica and could be in violation of trademark and copyright laws. The Trademarks could potentially be owned by Warren Lasch, administrative contact for the website,, and may be held for private benefit.

The Friends of the Hunley, Inc. claim trademark rights on the image of the coin and copyrights for any photographs of it, despite the fact that many people feel that those rights  belong to all Americans. The Friends have also claimed trademark rights on numerous pictures taken while excavating the submarine and have removed them from their website.

"We're stewards of the Hunley and Warren Lasch and we basically have a significant obligation to protect the assets entrusted to us,"  Warren Lasch, is chairman of Hunley organization. If the group hadn't protested, it could have been interpreted as a waiver of rights, Lasch said, and opened the door for other sellers to move in on potential profits. The Hunley has been described as a "cash cow" and rights to this historic monument have been carefully guarded.

Hunley officials say the 1860 U.S. gold coin is worth millions of dollars in part because of its unique story.

The Hunley, discovered by Dr. E. Lee Spence, was the first sub to sink an enemy ship during battle, but was lost in the 1864 battle with the Housatonic. Its commander Lt. George E. Dixon carried the coin as a good luck piece on the sub's last voyage. He had carried it in his pocket at the Battle of Shiloh, where it deflected a Union bullet from penetrating his leg.

The coin that Patriot's Point was selling was a duplicate and even carried the inscription that Dixon put on it: "Shiloh April 6th 1862 My life Preserver." Several people have claimed that the original gold coin was a fake and that the inscription was not simply scratched in but made by a machine engraver.

Patriot's Point stopped selling the coin replicas, although officials were unsure how many had been sold, so the museum could work a deal out with Friends of the Hunley, Inc. to sell the coin and other sub-related merchandise, museum Director David Burdette said.


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