An important collection of pewter treasure that was discovered in the wreck of the Punta Cana will be sold at Wilkinson's Auctioneers in the UK on November 24.
The collection was discovered in 2001, as Anchor Research & Salvage searched the wreck off the coast of the Dominican Republic. The Punta Cana was a Spanish ship that sank during the 1540s, and is one of the earliest European wrecks ever found in the Americas.
The collection, which has been described as "unmatched in its scale and importance", is valued at £200,000 ($321,100). The pewter bears the mark of Sir Thomas Curtis, one of the foremost artisans of the 16th century, and is similar to that found on the famous wreck of the Mary Rose.
Much of the discovery is now owned by the Dominican Republic, though around 25% of the find was given to Anchor Research & Salvage, which has placed it up for auction. Around 1,200 plates and other items of tableware have been recovered so far, with more on its way.
"Sample artefacts from these newly discovered wreck sites indicate that we may have found an entire fleet of early Galleons that wrecked on their way back to Spain carrying the riches of the new world," commented Anchor Research & Salvage's CEO, Robert Pritchett.
"The story behind these items is fantastic... It turned out the ship had been transporting the new Spanish ambassador to the island, which at the time was a Spanish colony," added auctioneer Sid Wilkinson in an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper.
"The pewter was of the finest quality, much of it made in England, and was destined for his mansion. The story goes that when the ship went down, the ambassador was the only one to survive but he had to swim to shore leaving behind his treasures."
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