Silver Bar Physical Object

Accession Number
Alternate object names
Silver Ingot
A silver ingot recovered from the wreck of the 1622 galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha. It is ingot number 301 (see the “CCCI” mark stamped into the upper surface), and it was being shipped by South American merchant Miguel de Uzarraga. It was cast at the Andean city of Potosí from silver mined at the famed Cerro Rico, a veritable mountain of silver. Uzarraga’s “AL” shipper’s mark is prominent on the surface. Silvermaster Jacomo de Vreder's distinctive "V" mark is just next to Uzarraga's, indicating the bar was officially registered on the galleon. The ingot was to be received in Spain by a D. Rodriguez. Dimensions: 34.5 cm L x 12.8 cm W x 8.6 cm H x 29.05 kg. This ingot was donated by Mr. Jerry Shapiro to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in 2019.


8.6 cm H x 12.8 cm W x 34.5 cm L , Item (Overall)

29.05 kg Weight

Exhibition Label
Object/Case Caption (2023):

Silver (Peru and Mexico, 1621)
Gifts of George Breed, Richard Bulman, Dr. Edwin and Jane Davis, Wayne Densch, Kim Fisher, Mel and Dolores Fisher, Joseph Hoffman, Jamestown Inc., Norman Johnson, Demostines “Mo” Molinar, John Scott, Jerold B. Shapiro

1986.003.007, 1986.008.0065, 1986.008.1496-98, 1986.008.2290, 1987.004.0001, 1987.011.0001, 1987.021.0001-2, 1997.001.0001, 1997.002.0001-3, 1997.011.0015, 1999.016.0001, 1999.001.0001, 1999.007.0002, 2001.009.0006, 2001.014.0001, 2003.008.0001, 2004.004.0001, 2011.004.0001, 2019.005.0001

The millions of silver ingots successfully shipped to Spain were melted down to make coins or other items. Only those recovered from shipwrecks reveal details of the trade.

The Nuestra Señora de Atocha was carrying 1,038 silver ingots, most weighing about 70 pounds. Each one was assigned a serial number, then marked to show where it was mined and its purity. The largest single owner of the Atocha’s silver was King Philip IV, but nearly two-thirds of the cargo was being shipped by private individuals. To make sure that there were no mistakes during transport, owners marked their ingots with their logos. If they were shipping an ingot to someone else, they added that person’s logo too. Details were carefully recorded by the silver master on each galleon, who made sure that taxes and freight charges were paid on personal treasure.

[image: diagram]

1. Silver master’s stamp
2. Shipper’s logo
3. Purity mark
4. Tax stamp
5. Assayer’s scoop
6. Serial number
7. Receiver’s logo

This ingot was being shipped by A. de Aguirre to H. de Almonte. Their personal logos – a linked “AGE” and an “H3” – are marked on the face of the ingot, as are the circular, shield-style stamps that prove that the 20% tax was paid to the crown on the value of the silver. The large Roman numeral VUII, indicates it was the 5,002nd ingot produced in Potosi that year. The deep scoop in the middle of the ingot was made by the assayer when he sampled the ingot to determine its purity, which is specified by the Roman numerals IIUCCCLXXX, indicating that it was 2,380 parts pure silver out of 2,4000. Two Vs at either end are the marks of Nuestra Señora de Atocha silver master, Jacob de Vreder, showing that he registered the ingot as it came aboard the galleon.