Pewter Recovered by GME to be Auctioned in United Kingdom
TAMPA, Fla, Nov. 12, 2013
The earliest pewter ever found in the Americas is to be sold in the UK later in November.
One of the most important shipwrecks discovered in thirty years, the 450 year old Punta Cana Pewter Wreck has given up a unique assemblage that is changing history. Lost in the mid-16th Century just off the easternmost point of Hispaniola, the ship sank before it could make port to offload. This merchantman out of Seville was full of the wares found in wealthy households of the time, intended to be sold in Santo Domingo and elsewhere in Spain’s American colonies to keep the settlers well-supplied with the latest styles.
Chief amongst the finds are over 1,200 pewter objects, including plates, porringers, salts and flagons. Pewter expert Martin Roberts says: “This is the largest single cache of pewter ever discovered, more than doubling the quantity of mid-16th Century pewter known in the world. The preservation is extraordinary – some is in as good condition as any antique pewter I have ever seen.”
Made in England and Flanders, this pewter includes types and makers’ marks never before recorded, and is changing researchers’ understanding of the entire picture of pewtering in Tudor London. Some bears the mark of Sir Thomas Curtis: one of the most important pewterers ever to have lived, Curtis rose to be Lord Mayor of London in 1557. Pewter with his mark was found on the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship which sank while preparing to engage a French invasion fleet off England’s south coast.
Many of the other makers’ marks from the Punta Cana Pewter Wreck have never been seen before. Months of painstaking analysis of documentary records and alloy compositions means these can now be ascribed to other prominent pewterers of the time, bringing new understanding to a subject little studied before.
Excavations were undertaken by Anchor Research & Salvage, a company of Global Marine Exploration, under contract to and supervised by the government of Dominican Republic. Now fully salvaged, a quarter of the cargo is to be sold to fund further exploration and research. The sale will be held at Wilkinson’s Auctioneers in Doncaster, UK, 24th November, and the lots can be seen on their website or at the-saleroom.com.