Tableware of the Spanish Nobility from San Diego Shipwreck
Tableware of the Spanish Nobility_Poster
The Nobility’s Table
This week on #MaritimeMonday, your #NationalMuseumPH highlights the tableware of Spanish nobility on board the San Diego galleon.
San Diego sank on December 14, 1600 near Fortune Island, Batangas after defeat by the Dutch ship Mauritius. We have featured many of its archaeological objects on previous #MaritimeMonday posts. Read more about the vessel’s story here: https://tinyurl.com/SagaOfTheSanDiego
Vice Governor-General Antonio de Morga, the commander of San Diego, is inexperienced in naval affairs and had planned to use the vessel to further his political ambitions. According to accounts, he wanted to escape Manila and be transferred to a better post in Mexico. He took the naval battle with the Dutch as an opportunity to get his promotion. He invited Manila-based Spanish nobles and officers to bear witness to his success and support his planned transfer. Unfortunately, the galleon sank during the battle but De Morga was one of the survivors who managed to reach Fortune Island.
The presence of the Spanish aristocrats was evidenced by the high quality metal plates, cutlery pieces, and glassware recovered from the wreck. The plates were conserved using electrolysis treatment to remove concretions and remove from stacked pile. They are made of silver with marks and inscriptions. A small depression at the center can be observed, probably caused by polishing. The cutlery pieces comprised bronze spoon and parts of silver forks. They have no marks that may indicate their origin. The spoon has a missing section making it difficult to identify the type of decorative motif. During this period, forks were just coming into fashion in the upper classes of Spain. They were considered as luxuries and markers of social status and sophistication. The glass goblet is cylindrical with wide horizontal bands. Despite being underwater for almost 400 years, the fragile object is relatively intact showing its crude strength. There are also pieces of footed glasses recovered, which were found to be imitation of ‘Facon de Venise’ style.
These luxurious objects showed the extravagant lifestyle reserved for the Spanish nobles and officers on board San Diego.
Your #NationalMuseumPH is now open to the public. While the San Diego gallery undergoes reconstruction, you may see and appreciate other significant shipwreck artifacts in the ‘300 Years of Maritime Trade in the Philippines’ exhibit located at the National Museum of Anthropology by booking a slot through this website. Remember to #KeepSafe by practicing minimum health protocols while viewing our galleries. You may also experience the virtual tour of the exhibit by clicking on this link: https://tinyurl.com/300YearsOfMaritimeTradePH
Text and poster by the NMP Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Division.
© National Museum of the Philippines (2021)