PHOTO IN THE NEWS: Gold Toothpick-Earwax Spoon Found

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May 20, 2008—Divers searching for a shipwrecked Spanish galleon on Sunday brought back a solid gold find: a combination toothpick and earwax spoon.

The 3-inch-long (7.6-centimeter-long) grooming tool dates back to the late 16th or early 17th century and was probably worn on a gold chain, experts said. It weighs only about an ounce (28 grams), but its value could exceed U.S. $100,000, Blue Water Ventures diver Chris Rackley told the Associated Press.

Rackley found the object while hunting for the remains of the Santa Margarita, which sank in a violent 1622 hurricane about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the coast of Key West, Florida.

"We were on the trail on the Margarita site following the artifact scatter pattern to the north," Blue Water head archaeologist R. Duncan Mathewson told AP.

"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."

Santa Margarita was part of Spain's Tierra Firme treasure fleet carrying goods between Europe and the New World. In addition to its 143 passengers and crew, the galleon sank carrying a wide array of coins, pearls, gold bars, and other treasures.

Searches for the lost ship and its valuables have been ongoing since the 1980s. Last year Blue Water was part of a joint team that uncovered a major stash estimated to be worth more than two million dollars.

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