The catalogue printed the box’s back story without comment: “After 1689 the ship, which was then called Princess Mary, was sold, renamed and employed in the coal trade until 1827. She was then wrecked on Tynemouth Bar and her timbers were salvaged.”
The collier Betsy Cains definitely sank on the treacherous Black Middens, but even at the time, the tale of the supposedly 150-year old ship’s history met with some scepticism.
That did not prevent keen interest, however, including from Northern Ireland’s Orange Lodges, and estimated at £120-160, it sold at £1300.
Solid prices for silver at the sale included £8000 for a set of 24 armorial table knives and forks by Paul Storr, London 1819, and a 17in (42.5cm) tall epergne by William Pitts, London 1786-8, at £4900.