Doncaster auctioneer Sid Wilkinson is to sell items from a huge cache of Tudor pewter tablewares recently discovered by professional treasure hunters off the coast of the Dominican Republic.
The cargo of the so-called 'Pewter
Wreck', has been described by a UK specialist as "unique in the
120-year history of the study and collecting of pewter".
Divers from Anchor Research and
Salvage (a division of Global Marine Exploration, a private company
based in Tampa, Florida) found the remains of a 16th century ship
and its cargo of European trade goods off Punta Cana on the island
of Hispaniola in 2011.
Under contract from the Underwater
Cultural Heritage division of the Dominican Minister of Culture's
office, the site was excavated across three dive seasons - the task
finally completed earlier this year.
Chief among the finds are some 1200
well-preserved pewter sad and hollow wares including plates,
platters, porringers, salts and flagons in several sizes and
styles. Some carry the marks for pewterers from the Flemish centres
of Antwerp and Bruges, but it seems much was made in England
specifically for the export market.
Up to a third bears the touchmark of
Alderman Sir Thomas Curtis, the most important London pewterer of
the period, whose mark also appears on much of the pewter from the
Many other makers' marks are
unrecorded, with the range of forms and styles already challenging
orthodoxies in the collecting community. Until now, recorded
objects of this type and date, numbered in the tens, not the
The size and diversity of the group,
and the absence of signs of use (ownership marks, knife marks etc),
suggest these were new trade goods lost on their way to one of the
Spanish colonies between the late 1540s and the early
According to procedure, 75% of all
finds from the Punta Cana wreck will remain in the Dominican
Republic and become museum exhibits. But, following a 'division'
process, Global Marine Exploration are free to sell their quarter
share on the open market.
While the gold and silver artefacts,
including some rare Spanish coinage, are being sold in the USA,
upon the advice of Martin Roberts, the UK specialist who worked as
a consultant on the site, the pewter and other pieces of early
metalwork will be offered in the UK.
The consignment is currently in
transit to Doncaster but Wilkinson's, specialists in early
furniture and works of art, expect to offer up to 230 pieces at
their sale on November 24. Estimates are yet to be