Support ANTIQUES ROADSHOW by supporting public television! Give Today
  • ON TV
  • SHOP
  • The Roadshow Archive

    18th-Century China Trade Shipwreck Gold & Porcelain

    Appraised Value:

    $12,000 - $15,000 (1999)

    Updated Value:

    $70,000 - $90,000 (2013)

    Appraised on: June 5, 1999

    Appraised in: Tampa, Florida

    Appraised by: Becky MacGuire

    Category: Jewelry

    Episode Info: Tampa (#1826)
    Finders Keepers (#1720)
    Tampa (#406)

    Originally Aired: February 14, 2000

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 1  

    More Like This:

    Form: Ingot, Shard
    Material: Gold, Porcelain
    Value Range: $12,000 - $15,000 (1999)
    Updated Value: $70,000 - $90,000 (2013)

    Update 12.23.2013:

    We contacted appraiser Becky MacGuire for an updated appraisal in today's market.

    • Current Appraised Value: $70,000 - $90,000 (Unchanged)

    Related Links:

    Article: Under the Sea
    In the case of sunken treasure, finders are not necessarily legitimate keepers.

    Understanding Our Appraisals
    Useful tips to keep in mind when watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW


    Appraisal Video: (2:45)


    Appraised By:

    Becky MacGuire
    Asian Arts
    Senior Specialist

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: We were living on a boat, diving a lot. We dove in Cape Verde islands, as we usually did. We found first the porcelain, and so we took pictures of them and we went back. When there's a wreck like that, you know there's a wreck somewhere, so you just go around and have a look, and we eventually found the gold. We couldn't dive a lot, it was a bit deep, so if we hadn't found them at first, we would have had to stay a few days, but we were very, very lucky.

    APPRAISER: And this is the Cape Verde islands, you say.

    GUEST: Yes.

    APPRAISER: Off the coast of Africa. Oh, it's just wonderful.

    APPRAISER: And here, I want to show everybody this fabulous photograph you took of these very objects lying on the seabed next to a starfish, showing really how they rested for, I believe, since about 1750, since the middle of the 18th century.

    GUEST: That's a long time.

    APPRAISER: Because what you have here are perfect illustrations of the great China trade that occurred from the 17th to the 19th centuries. And even with just these shards, we can confirm that by looking at the color and the shapes of the porcelain. The flat piece with the line border on the rim we know is the flat edge to a plate or a saucer. Now, the Asians themselves, who were famous for making blue and white porcelain, did not eat off dishes with flat rims. Only the Europeans did. So this confirms our intuition that this must have been cargo from a European trading ship...

    GUEST: Coming from China.

    APPRAISER: ...coming from China back home to Europe, the Dutch East India Company or the British East India Company bringing these wonderful treasures.
    At today's trading value for gold bullion, these ingots would each have a value of about $4,000, each one, because they each weigh 16 ounces. Typically of Chinese gold, they are 18 karat or purer.

    GUEST: Oh, yes. That's why they kept so well.

    GUEST: Exactly, the seawater will not hurt them at all.

    APPRAISER: I think with the added romance, the adventure of the China trade involved, you can rely on adding at least a quarter more.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: 25% more to their value, and possibly even more than that. They're just fabulous.

    GUEST: Thank you.

    WGBH This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
    ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
    WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
    PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

    ROADSHOW on Facebook ROADSHOW Tweets ROADSHOW on YouTube