July’s Treasure of the Month features one of the most recognized and revered artifacts ever associated with the 1715 Fleet: The Dragon Whistle. Although it has been alleged that this item was made for the 17151 Fleet Captain-General Juan Esteban Ubilla in China, this theory has never been proven. The Dragon Whistle was the centerpiece of the Parke-Bernet “Treasure of the Spanish Main” Auction on February 4, 1967. Identified as Lot 21 it was described as follows:
“A gold whistle in the form of a dragon with open mouth, the tapering body repoussé with scale work and terminating in an ear lobe. The dorsal fin serrated and enclosing a hinged toothpick. The whole suspended from a gold chain of 2,176 links, each of square section and two paterae conjoined.” The whistle is 2 3/4″, the chain 11′ 4 1/2″. The design of both whistle and chain is in European taste, but the decoration appears to be of oriental inspiration. Recovered from the Cabin Wreck, south of Sebastian Inlet, Florida, the Dragon Whistle sold for $50,000, which at the time was an astounding price to pay for a shipwreck artifact. Today, it would sell for many times that amount.