Gilt silver cup at Museum Kaap Skil

Published on 8 March 2019

Please note: this is a news item from 2019. The information below is therefore (partly) no longer up-to-date.

An exceptional object from the Palmwood wreck can be seen for the next six months at Museum Kaap Skil (in Oudeschild on the island of Texel). A gilt silver cup, expertly restored after a stay of almost four centuries in the sea bottom, is being displayed in the exhibit Diving in Details. Expert Jan Beekhuizen, known from the television program ‘Kunst & Kitsch’ (~’Art & Fake’), calls it “Exceptional, if not unique, that such a find surfaces from a ship wreck”.

Pronkbeker bij Museum Kaap Skil

Air-conditioned showcase

A specially designed showcase allows the viewer to observe the gilt cup from all sides. Details can be seen and enlarged on a touchscreen. The cup is decorated with driven flower patterns and mascarons, ornaments representing faces. The cup was unveiled at the Rijksmuseum on March 7 by deputy Jack van der Hoek and museum manager Corina Hordijk, together with the presentation of a report on the Palmwood wreck collection.

The unusually rich

The discovery of the Palmwood wreck by divers from Texel and the unusually rich finds surfaced from this wreck created a worldwide sensation in 2016. The lovely silk dress and other luxury garments and personal belongings from the wreck made it clear that the cargo being transported by the ship belonged to very wealthy, perhaps even royal people. Even the gilt silver cup fits this picture. Only the richest could afford such an object.


Pronkbeker uit het Palmhoutwrak

The wreck of the ship and almost four centuries lying in the sea bottom have taken their toll: the cup surfaced partially flattened and broken into three parts. In addition, there were dark corrosive bumps on the surface. Experts from the restoration workshop Restaura have carefully removed the deposits, reattached the loose parts and restored the cup to its original shape. The war god Mars, standing on the lid of the cup, has lost his shield, but otherwise the cup is more or less whole.

Diving in Details

In the exhibit Diving in Details in Museum Kaap Skil, there is also a painting from the 17th century depicting such a cup. This shows what function the cup served: people used it to display their wealth. The Palmwood wreck was once a heavily armed fluyt (‘straatvaarder’), destined for trade in the Mediterranean. The ship sank in the 17th century on the Roads of Texel. It is still unknown who the owner of the ship and the cargo was.