Buried at sea for 500 years
- On 09/11/2013
- In Auction News
Specialist divers spent two years extracting the perfectly preserved pewter plates and bowls from beneath the waves of the Caribbean.
Now more than 1,200 items of the finest quality English pewter will go on sale in the UK later this month.
The haul was recovered from the wreck of an unnamed galleon, which is thought to have sunk around 1540. They have been so well preserved in the seabed that they are said to be as historically valuable as those raised from the wreck of the Mary Rose.
It is believed the ship was transporting the incoming Spanish ambassador from Seville to his new colonial home on the island of Hispaniola, now the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Onboard were thousands of pieces of top quality dining crockery. But disaster struck when the ship sunk after hitting rocks. The ambassador survived but his possessions could not be rescued and went down with the ship.&
The wreck was only discovered in 2011 and the excavation process is still ongoing. The majority of the pieces will stay in the Dominican Republic but around 200 have made it back to Britain and will now go under the hammer in Doncaster.
The salvage team had to chisel through several inches of rock to uncover the stunning artefacts. Some pieces are said to be in as good a condition as when they were made.
Around a third of the pewter bears the mark of Sir Thomas Curtis, regarded as the most important London pewterer of the 16th Century.
Sir Thomas was Mayor of London in 1557 and his mark also appears on much of the pewter from the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's flagship, lost in the Solent in 1545.
The collection is tipped to fetch £200,000 when it goes under the hammer. Among the highlights are a pair of 16-inch plates made by London pewterer Edward Cacher worth £15,000.
A pair of octagonal plates made by Sir Thomas could fetch £5,000.