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The unprecedented auction event followed the discovery in 2011 of the remains of a mid-16th century ship and its cargo of European trade goods just off the coast of Punta Cana on the island of Hispaniola.

While every lot sold for a total over £250,000, there were undoubted bargains to be had.

A Wiltshire collector, who had viewed the sale in South Yorkshire but was bidding on the internet, had taken a £1000 punt on one of a small number of lots that remained in their excavated state and appeared later in the sale.

Careful use of a mallet and wooden wedges to remove a thick layer of calcium carbonate have since revealed a total of nine puntschotels or pointed dishes by Sir Thomas Curtis of London c.1550.

Although they were not all in the best condition (several were cracked and corroded) an ongoing cleaning process has revealed remarkable levels of preservation to some - with three still showing the turning rings acquired when these unused plates were 'finished' on the lathe.

A full report of the sale on November 24 which one dealer called "a once in a lifetime opportunity" appears in this week's ATG.

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