18th-Century China Trade Shipwreck Gold & Porcelain
Appraised Value: $12,000 - $15,000 (1999)
$70,000 - $90,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 1
We contacted appraiser Becky MacGuire for an updated appraisal in today's market.
• Current Appraised Value: $70,000 - $90,000 (Unchanged)
Appraisal Video: (2:45)
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.
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.
APPRAISER: 25% more to their value, and possibly even more than that. They're just fabulous.
GUEST: Thank you.
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.