The December 2015 Fleet Society Treasure of the Month is a gold statuette found in 2010 from the remains of what is believed to be the Nuestra Señora de las Nieves more commonly known as the Douglass Beach Wreck, off Fort Pierce.
Found on Sunday August 15, 2010 by diver Bonnie Schubert, this iconic relic stands a stately 5½” tall and weighs in at a hefty 177 g. This 22kt gold bird was at first thought by some to be an eagle. Others thought it might be a turkey. But it took the scholarship of that great 1715 Fleet Historian Dr. Eugene Lyon to positively identify it as a “Pelican in Piety”.
This item represents the legend of the mother pelican wounding her breast to feed her young on the droplets of her own blood and used as a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. One can only imagine what might have been contained in the open torso of the object.
It might have been an incense container or perhaps a large red jewel representing the blood of Christ. In any event, we are pleased and honored to display this item as our December offering.
Many thanks to Fleet Society Director Ernie Richards, who provided the text, and Bonnie Schubert who was kind enough to provide the images.
The item resides in a private collection.