A Transitional Porcelain Box and Cover From The Hatcher Cargo

Chongzhen c.1643

A Transitional Porcelain Box and Cover From the Hatcher Cargo, Late Ming, Chongzhen c.1643. The small circular porcelain box and cover is decorated with a fan panel with grasses and above it a scholars rock, below that is a table with a plant pot. The base is decorated with branches.



In very good condition, minute frits to the inside of the cover, almost no signs of it being in the sea. Adhesive to base, probably the remains of the original label.
Diameter 5.1 cm (2 inches) Height 3.4 cm (1 1/3 inches)
Purchased in the 1980's from one of the original Hatcher Cargo auctions. It lacks a Hatcher label.
Stock number
A Transitional Blue and White Porcelain Box and Cover of this type with a cricket is in the British Museum, see : Catalogue of Late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum.(Jessica Harrison-Hall.The British Museum Press, 2001. ISBN 0-7141-1488-X.) page 391, item 12:95. Auction Catalogue - Fine And Important Late Ming And Transitional Porcelain, Recently Recovered from an Asian Vessel in the South China Sea. Property of Captain Michael Hatcher. Christie`s Amsterdam 14th March 1984.



The Hatcher Cargo :
The Hatcher Cargo was the first porcelain cargo from a shipwreck to come on to the market. It was sold in several auctions in Christie`s Amsterdam in 1984 and 1985. It remains one of the most important cargoes of shipwreck ceramics ever recovered, despite the lack of historical evidence recorded by the salvage team. Two porcelain covers dated 1643 helped date the wreck but this needed corroborating to give a firm date of the wreck and it`s cargo.

The dating of the porcelain from the Hatcher Cargo is based on several elements. Firstly, the ceramics recovered form a coherent group, in other words they appear to all have been made at the same time. Secondly comparative dating was used to corroborate the date of the porcelain. For example, blue and white porcelain dishes decorated with a coiled serpent recovered from the Hatcher Cargo match an important dish from the fall of the Ming dynasty, formerly in the Percival David Foundation, now at the British Museum London, this dish can be dated to 1644 - 1645.

Other comparative dating is also consistent with the presumed date of the porcelain. However, the most important dating reference remains the two covers recovered from the wreck datable by inscription to the spring of 1643. Although the the Ming dynasty officially ended in 1644 the transition from the Ming to the beginning of the Qing was messy and protracted. The porcelain made during this period of civil war and chaos is referred to as `Transitional Porcelain`. It covers the period from the last Ming Emperors until the early years of the Kangxi period, which is normally given a date of about 1620 to 1670 . The Hatcher Cargo is a vital dating tool for this previously poorly understood period of Chinese porcelain production.