A gilt silver cup, retrieved from a 17th century shipwreck lying on the seabed of the Wadden Sea. Personal belongings from the most prosperous years of the 17th century were found in this wreck, known as the Palmwood Wreck. In addition to exclusive textile artefacts, including an almost intact silk gown, finds from the Palmwood wreck also contained silverware. The cup from the Palmwood Wreck is one such example.
Cups were mainly produced for special occasions, such as a marriage, jubilee or military victory. They are large, richly decorated goblets intended to be shown off in domestic circles or to display wealth. Silver and gilded (covered with a layer of gold) cups are often features of seventeenth century still-life paintings.
The cup is an example of the goblets which were produced at the end of the sixteenth century in Neurenburg in Germany. Neurenburg was a large centre for the production of luxury silver goods. The cup has beaten and cast decorations, including floral patterns, vases and mascarons. Mars, the Roman god of war is pictured on the lid. Mars’s spear has broken off and the once-present shield is now missing.
Lying on the seabed for centuries has taken its toll on the cup. The object was broken into three parts and partly crushed. The salty seawater caused corrosion of the silver under the gilding, resulting in the goblet being covered in thick lumps of corrosion. Restoration experts from Restaura have carefully removed the tarnish, under which most of the gilding was found to be intact. The separate parts of the goblet have also been pieced back together.
The cup and other unique finds from the Palmwood wreck are on display in a new, spectacular exhibition in Museum Kaap Skil.
NB: Research continues to be conducted into the collection. For this reason, this article may contain obsolete information or outdated insights.