1715 Fleet Pyx
This elegant high karat gold pyx, (frame and insert) was hand crafted in the late 1600's - early 1700's for transporting a host (communion wafer). The elaborate gold filigree insert is called a lunette which features the monstrance. There is a very thin space between the frame and the lunette, the host would have been placed there to be displayed behind the "sun" element on a stem. Only gold can touch the host once it has been consecrated.
In the 16th century the monstrance took its present shape: a circular window set under a cross and surrounded with "sun" rays. The wafer would be held in the center of the sun. First used in France and Germany in the 14th century, when popular devotion to the Blessed Sacrament developed, monstrances were modeled after pyxes or reliquaries, sacred vessels for transporting the host or relics. The host was shown in a glass cylinder mounted on a base and surmounted by some sort of metal crown. These were displayed on the altar of churches and cathedrals.
This pyx has an ornate bail attached so that it could have been worn on a cord or chain to be carried somewhere, possibly to serve last rites.
Researched by Faye Asano, Big Blue Wreck Salvage, Inc. and Donna Pierce, Denver Art Museum
1715 Fleet Shipwreck Recovery Update
In his YouTube debut, here is our founder Mel discussing some of the incredible finds that were made on the 1715 fleet shipwreck site this summer!
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A friend of ours in the Bahamas had a close brush with a large reef shark recently. As you can see from the photos, the shark was not too pleased with his vessel.
He came upon some divers who were being monitored pretty closely by a shark, so he decided to try and drive it away. He circled around the area, expecting that the noise of his engine would encourage the shark to move out of the area.
Everyone thought the shark had moved on when it reappeared and took a sizeable bite out of the flotation tube! The shark certainly made its feelings about the boat known, but boater and divers all made it back to shore unharmed.
Featured Artifact: Bowl from the Grand Conglué wreck site
Here’s an interesting piece from our collection! This 3rd century BC Roman bowl was recovered from the Grand Congloué shipwreck site, 10 miles off the coast of Marseilles, France. As you can see, it’s in incredible shape, with the glaze mostly intact, and the 7 petal flower design at the bottom of the bowl still visible. It is a type of pottery known as Campanian Black Ware, produced in Southern Italy beginning in the 5th century BC. You can see some of the encrustation from its long stay underwater on the side of the bowl.
The story of the recovery of this piece is also historic. The field of underwater archaeology was in its infancy in the summer of 1952 when Jacques Cousteau and his team found this wreck. Over the next five years, the team salvaged the wreck, and discovered two ancient wrecks, separated by at least a century, layered one on top of the other.
The Hannah Elizabeth
We just had a chance to see a special presentation by the Texas Marine Archaeologist in Galveston, TX featuring recoveries from the wreck of the Hannah Elizabeth (1835), a schooner that was on a gun trafficking mission. During the Texan Revolution (the conflict between the Texan colonists and Mexico for Texan independence) she was heading from New Orleans to Texas to supply the Texan Army. She was pursued by a Mexican warship and became stuck on a sandbar. Much of the contraband cargo was thrown overboard by the worried crew. The Mexican warship opened fire on their beached target, and eventually boarded her, but abandoned her and retreated when bad weather forced them to move their own vessel to safety. Though Texan forces reached the Hannah Elizabeth after the retreat, the ship rolled, broke apart and sank. In the picture above you can see elements of one of the recovered flintlock muskets, next to a replica for reference.
Among the cargo were cannons, cannonballs, bar-shot, and muskets. Some of the muskets were British, and had been collected following the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. The bayonet below is British.