martin & Pole






Antique Auction 15th June 2016

This auction includes the first part of a collection of Chinese blue and white ceramics, much of which sourced from the many South China Sea shipwrecks discovered in recent years. The first part includes items from the Nanking, Ca Mau, Binh Thuan and Wanli shipwrecks.

The Nanking Cargo is probably the most famous of all the shipwrecked cargoes, following the auction by Christie’s in 1986. Part of its fame is owed to the Dutch East India Company and the records of their ship Geldermalsen, wrecked on the 3rd January 1752. The ship had a valuable cargo of tea, silk and textiles and packed in with them was gold and ceramics. Only these latter two survived the rigours of the sea. The cargo of ceramics was predominantly blue and white table wares, particularly tea bowls and saucers, destined for the new middle classes of Europe.

The Ca Mau Cargo is of a slightly earlier date. Coins and wine cups found on the wreck date the cargo to the Yongzheng period (1723-1735). The cargo is named after the Cap Ca Mau in South Vietnam, the nearest land from which the cargo was discovered in 1998, some 90 nautical miles South. 130,000 artefacts where salvaged from the ship in collaboration with the Ca Mau Provincial Museum. Much of the ceramics was decorated with European motifs and hence would appear to have been destined for the European market. A large proportion was sold by Sotheby’s in Amsterdam in a three day sale in 2007.

The Binh Thuan wreck was also discovered off the coast of South Vietnam, 40 miles from the Binh Thuan Province, by fishermen in 2001. Research suggests that the vessel was a Chinese Junk belonging to I Sin Ho, transporting silks and Chinese goods from China to Johor, when the junk sank in 1608. Zhangzhou china and other blue and white ceramics were discovered on board. Christie’s in Australia sold a large part of the hoard in March 2004.

The Wanli wreck is named after the porcelain found in it, which can be traced back to the Jingdezhen kilns during the reign of Emperor Wan Li (1573 – 1620). Wares from the wreck were first found by Malaysian fishermen in 1997 but it was not properly excavated until 2003. The ship is thought to have been Portuguese owned and it is possible that it was attacked by a rival Dutch vessel. Much of the ceramics were damaged and there is a theory that the ship suffered an explosion in the ammunition store. Of the 37,000 pieces of ceramics, only 800 were found intact.

Following on the auction in August will also include ceramics from the Hoi An, Tek Sing and the Java Sea wrecks.

Viewing commences on Saturday morning from 9am to 1pm, with further viewing on Monday and Tuesday from 9am to 6pm. You can now watch the auction and bid live.