Silver Gilt Rosewater Platter Reveals 1622 Bishop’s Coat of Arms!
Key West, FL April 16, 2009 – A large silver gilt platter that was recently found on the wreck site of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha turns out to be a Rosewater Platter and has revealed unique markings that indicate it may have belonged to a powerful Bishop in the early 1600s.

Captain Jose “Papo” Garcia and his crew of the salvage vessel DARE recently found a silver gilt Rosewater Platter, which measures 17 ¼ ” in diameter on the wreck site of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha. It is rare to find such a unique piece with such detailed markings.

These types of platters were used by the Church to hold aromatic water scented with rose petals, known as rosewater. Members of the clergy would cleanse their hands in the rose water before performing clerical ceremonies.

Senior Conservator, John Corcoran, is working to restore this incredible piece and has discovered some very intriguing information. The marking in the center of the plate bears a crest. Preliminary research indicates that the markings are likely those of a Bishop. There is a hat and a cross at the top of the shield along with a set of six tassels on each side of the shield. The Church has a ranking system much like the military and each ranking is symbolized by a different number of tassels. Six tassels on either side, in sets of three, as seen on this platter indicate a Bishop.

The outside markings are always the same, but the interior markings change to reflect the individual owner. Corcoran explains, “The left side of the crest illustrates the diocese of the Bishop. The right hand side bears the individual Bishop’s personal coat of arms.” He continues, “More research is needed to determine which particular Bishop this platter belonged to.”

Since the artifact is silver gilt, essentially gold plating on top of the silver, standard electrolysis processes cannot be used or the gold would lift off of the silver. A much more time consuming process must be used to carefully remove the encrustation and extract the salt from the metal to prevent further deterioration.

The artifact will be in a fresh water tank, which will be changed weekly for the next year, to slowly remove the salt from the metal. Corcoran will very gently remove the encrustation by hand with a dental pick and magnifying glass while keeping the artifact submerged in distilled water.


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