Photo courtesy JR Bissell / Thomas Herd
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When one mentions buried treasure, the mind can’t help but immediately jump to the golden age of piracy, conjuring up images of wooden chests filled to the brim with golden coins and gem-laden jewelry that have been hidden and left forgotten for centuries under layers of sand. While this buccaneering viewpoint has certainly pervaded into modern day pirate JR Bissell’s perspective of loot, especially when it comes to his running his company Pirate Gold Coins, the 21st century ancient artifact dealer has found that some of the most intriguing treasures of the world are indeed buried beneath the earth — they just happen to be more than 60 million years old.
Bissell is no stranger to curating one-of-a-kind items, as his business, Pirate Gold Coins, boasts extraordinary trinkets from shipwrecked coins to Egyptian hieroglyphics abound for public sale. This specialty extends well into his own treasure’s listed for the public, as Bissell is the proud owner of one-off collectibles like Hugh Hefner’s personal golden money clip, which he acquired from his elite online auction browsing skills. As the demand for unique rarities has increased throughout the world, Bissell has taken his talents to the next level, now acquiring pieces that once-upon-a-time could only be found beneath the earth’s crust in its sedimentary rock formations: dinosaur fossils.
A natural progression to his business, Bissell has been singlehandedly satisfying the global elite’s demand for rare Mesozoic era artifacts for several years now. From a complete Triceratops skeleton to Centrosaurus skulls, Bissell’s unparalleled navigation of virtual sales has obtained certifiably authentic and top quality dinosaur fossils for his clientele unlike any other in the world. Now, thanks to Bissell, owning one of the oldest pieces of the earth’s history is easier than ever before — if you have the funds for it, that is.
Still, his foray in the Jurassic world hasn’t come without controversy: one of Bissel’s most notorious acquisitions, the only known baby Tyrannosaurus Rex in existence, sparked massive international outrage when the treasure aficionado listed the skeleton on eBay for a whopping $2.95 million dollars in 2019. Previous finders of the species’ remains have claimed “the ‘t’ in T-Rex stands for trouble,” as the fossils seem to come attached with some kind of curse to their discoverers, something Bissell discovered to be true for himself when his auction spawned thousands of death threats directly into his inbox.
Many tried to insist that his sale was harmful to the paleontological community at large, but Bissell sees things differently; having rescued the skeleton from a small university where nobody even knew it existed, now this incredibly rare set of bones had a place on the world stage where anyone could view it from the comfort of their own home. Just like with famous pieces of art, any buyer of a fossil of such fame would surely loan or lease the skeleton out to multiple museums around the world for the sake of its upkeep and for all of society to see. Ultimately making Bissell’s own sale of the piece for the good of public consumption.
Having fought through the pushback and the adversity, Bissell has come out on the other side with unrivaled experience and inventory in the sale of dinosaur fossils, plus the publicity attached to his name in the business to boot.
Now, anyone on the quest for a Mesozoic artifact of their own is sure to know that Bissell is the world’s one-and-only “x marks the spot” on the map to these coveted ancient treasures.
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