History of the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

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The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is a museum in St. Augustine featuring a vast collection of historic pirate artifacts.

The museum, which is owned by retired team president of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers Pat Croce, opened in 1995 as the Pirate Soul Museum in Key West and later relocated to St. Augustine in 2010 because of the city’s booming history tourism industry. Croce also runs the Colonial Quarter Museum in St. Augustine.

The museum features 48 exhibit areas and over authentic 800 artifacts, which are from Croce’s personal collection, and it is said to be the largest and most authentic collection of pirate artifacts ever displayed under one roof.

“We (have) the oldest collection of authentic pirate artifacts in the world,” museum director Cindy Stavely said in an interview with wsbtv.com in 2017.  “We have over 800 artifacts and treasure displayed here.”

Some of the items on display at the museum include:

  • Blackbeard’s original blunderbuss
  • Gold from the warship Queen Anne’s Revenge
  • A ship log from Captain Kidd’s final journey
  • An authentic Jolly Roger flag
  • Thomas Tew’s original treasure chest, which is the only known authentic pirate treasure chest in the world
  • An old “wanted” poster from the 1696 search for Captain Henry Every
  • A 17th-century Khanjarli dagger
  • An 18th-century trade sword
  • Porcelain and pottery found on a Red Sea shipwreck discovered by noted archivist John De Bry
  • Authentic 18th century cannons that guests can fire electronically

Croce purchased the artifacts at various auctions over many decades, including the Tew treasure chest, which he purchased in 2000 at an auction in West Fork, N.Y for $63,450. The chest is currently insured for $1 million.

St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum

Also on display at the museum are artifacts uncovered when workers were digging to install a handicapped-accessible ramp for the museum in 2010. These artifacts date back to the late 1600s and early 1700s and include a compass, pieces of pottery, knee buckles and part of a sword hanger.

The museum is located across the street from the historic Castillo de San Marco National Monument and it is believed the artifacts may have come from the soldiers who manned the fort as well as from city residents and possibly even visiting pirates.

The museum has become a popular attraction in St. Augustine. It was named one of 21 things to do on a Florida vacation in an article in the Orlando Sentinel, it was listed as one of 8 best museums for badasses in the New York Post and was recommended by the New York Times and the National Geographic as a must-see attraction for anyone visiting St. Augustine for a day.

If you are looking to visit the museum and want to save money on tickets, check out this article on St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum coupons and discount tickets.

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