March 2019 Treasure of the Month

wedge6

Our featured treasure for March is part of a group of artifacts that we have featured before. Known as “wedges” these silver items were often smuggled on board the larger, heavily-armed guard galleons as contraband.

Wedge, side view

The pie shaped wedges were arranged in such a way that they could fit tightly in the bottom of a wooden cask or barrel and then covered over by some commonly shipped cargo. In this way the owners could avoid paying taxes. The 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet is the only known provenience for these types of ingots.

Wedge, Top View

These wedges were recovered by modern divers from a 1715 Fleet wreck which has since been referred to, not surprisingly, as the “Wedge Wreck”. Our little wedge featured here is special because, well, it is so little. In fact, it is one of the smallest wedges we have ever seen. Although it weighs a hefty 320.33 grams (as it is most certainly solid), it is very tiny, about 1 ¾ inches at its longest point and about 1 ¼  wide.

Wedge, width

Wedge, length

Other wedges can be seen by accessing our Treasure of the Month for December 2013 and February 2018.

Wedge, side view

Wedge, held for scale

 

Information for this post was gathered from:

SPANISH TREASURE BARS From New World Shipwrecks
By Alan K. Craig & Ernest J. Richards, Jr.
EN RADA Publications 2003

Ben Costello

Ben Costello is a director of the 1715 Fleet Society and an attorney in Washington, PA.

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