Sixteenth-Century Manila Galleon Cargos on the American West Coast

Ed Von der Porten gave a talk entitled, “Sixteenth-Century Manila Galleon Cargos on the American West Coast.” Three of the Manila-galleon cargos found on the West Coast of the Americas are from the sixteenth century: the San Felipe shipwreck of 1576 found in Baja California, Francis Drake’s loot from a Spanish ship carrying goods from a Manila galleon of 1578 found at Drakes Bay, California, and the San Agustin shipwreck of 1595, also found at Drakes Bay. These cargos provide insights into the earliest interactions between the Chinese and the Spaniards that created the trans-Pacific trade, which completed the vision of Columbus when it began in 1572. Much of the surviving cargos is Ming porcelains, but numerous stonewares, waxes, and small metal artifacts also have been found. The close study of these cargos and four others found off Manila, off Lisbon, at Saint Helena, and in the South China Sea has made it possible to establish a tight chronology for Chinese trade porcelains in the Kraak-Porcelain era from approximately 1570 to 1644.

Edward Von der Porten is a naval historian, nautical archaeologist, former director of the Treasure Island Museum, and a 30+ year high school and community college teacher. He is a researcher of maritime subjects including pre-Viking through eighteenth-century shipbuilding, Henry VIII’s Mary Rose and the development of the big-gun warship, Francis Drake’s California encampment, early Manila galleon wrecks, early Chinese trade porcelains, and the World War II German Navy.

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