From time to time it is fun to look back to the Mother Lode days. To remember the hard times and also the glory days and everything that made Mel and Deo’s crewmembers and staff such a tight knit group.
Mel and Deo appreciated the hard word and allegiance that their staff provided for so many years before the Mother Lode was found. They stuck with them through all of the hard times, bankruptcies and court cases. Day in and day out they were on those boats working, many times without pay. It is because of their loyalty that Mel was able to realize his dream; he couldn’t have done it on his own.
After Mel and his crew found the Mother Lode many things changed for all of them. Fame and notoriety came first; wealth took time. After hitting it big it became apparent that they were now “treasure rich and money poor” as is often the case in the treasure hunting business. Mel wanted to do something really special for his crew to commemorate their participation in such a significant moment in history but found himself without means initially.
By 1987 they had painstakingly mapped out the site, followed proper archeological methods and recovered the artifacts from the Mother Lode of the Atocha. Artifacts had been tagged, numbered and conserved. Fisher family, crewmembers and investors were distributed their shares and Mel began to sell items that he had a significant number of beginning with silver coins. When Mel received his first large check from the sale of multiple silver coins he was able to thank the staff and crew in the way he had hoped.
Mel worked in partnership with Josten’s to create an Atocha Mother Lode Golden Crew Ring. 84 rings were made and were given to everyone who participated at the height. Receptionists, archaeologists and divers; everyone was included. The rings were appraised at the time at $1,550.00 each and were made of 18 karat gold (gold was much less expensive at the time). They were inset with a dive flag symbol made of quartz and corundum. Around the dive flag is an engraving, which reads “Golden Crew Diver”. On one side of the outer portion of the ring it has 1985 inscribed and the other side 1622. The inside band of the ring is engraved with the diver’s name, the ring number (1-84), Mel Fisher, Today’s the Day, September 6, 1622 and July 20, 1985. Mel’s ring was slightly bigger than the others. His featured 8 emeralds inset around the dive flag; 4 on top and 4 on the bottom.
Mel gathered all of the crew together at the Ocean Key House and he and Deo presented them with their rings along with hand singed cards thanking them for their participation and loyalty. These rings are the Super Bowl rings of the treasure salvage industry. A suggestion has been made that as the Mother Lode divers grow older that the rings be donated to the museum so they can be honored even after they are gone. Plaques commemorating each diver with their name and ring number can accompany their ring in the display. The men and women who participated in the search and discovery of the Mother Lode of the Atocha helped make history and the rings they all have tie them together no mater where life has taken them since. Today’s the Day!
*A special thanks to Curtis White for providing information about the rings and for keeping the original paper work for all of these years.