July 2021 Treasure of the Month

Our Treasure of the Month for July is courtesy of Frank Noga of Eastlake, Ohio. Frank acquired this cute little artifact from the legendary Tommy Gore who worked during the heyday of recovery operations in the 1960’s as a Marine Archaeological Field Agent for the State of Florida. Field agents were sent onboard salvage vessels to see that recovered coins and artifacts were properly documented. In addition, field agents were tasked with noting the general location of where items were recovered. Prior to becoming a field agent for the State (1966), Tommy Gore had documented a number of possible 1715 Fleet wreck sites.

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A view of the inside of the vessel, with crude design and irregular shape, as opposed to a perfectly round and detailed bowl.

Our featured treasure (along with a companion piece) was found in the early 1960’s at a wreck site then known as the “Wedge Wreck”. It acquired this name because a number of silver pie-shaped wedges were found at this location. Its official designation is the Urca de Lima and is located just north of the Fort Pierce Inlet. (NOTE: Tommy Gore helped to establish this site as Florida’s first Underwater Shipwreck Park)

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Frontal view of mystery vessel. Note the lack of design detail. Chinese porcelain has clear and distinct images commonly animals, pastoral scenes, flowers and geometric designs.

Measuring in at just under 2 ½ inches tall and 3 inches wide at the top, this tiny vessel at first glance may be confused with one of the many Chinese porcelain items that were found at several 1715 Fleet wreck sites. With its blue and white design, which is a common feature Chinese porcelain from the Fleet, it is not surprising that one might jump to that conclusion. However, upon close examination, it is clear that this is not fine Chinese porcelain. The crude design, uneven shape, lack of detail and thickness indicates that this is a type of glazed stoneware. Although not as delicate or beautiful as some of the finer porcelain items that were recovered from 1715 Fleet wreck sites, our little artifact has beauty in its crudeness.

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Bottom of vessel. Note rough and uneven finish.

Who made it and where it was made are both unknowns. What we can say is that this artifact is certainly not representative of the type of dinnerware that is usually found. As such, July’s treasure is likely to remain an enigmatic mystery.

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Frank Noga holds artifact which offers perspective on its actual size.

Many thanks to Frank Noga for sharing this artifact with us and for providing us with numerous images which we were able to incorporate into the text above.

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