Pater Gratia Oriental Art

The Ca Mau Shipwreck c.1725 wares


The Ca Mau Shipwreck, c.1725


The Ca Mau shipwreck was a Chinese ocean going junk, almost certainly en route from Canton (now Kuangzhou) to the Dutch trading port of Batavia (now Jakarta). Disaster struck of the Ca Mau peninsular, there was a fire on board so severe that some of the porcelain was fused together. There were a few wine cups recovered bearing the mark of the Emperor Yongzheng who reigned from 1723 to 1735. By this time tea and coffee was the rage throughout Europe and the principal traders were the British 'Honourable East India Company' and the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC). With the demand for tea came demand for porcelain by which to drink it and so most of what they imported in these year was tea wares.(Amsterdam 2007, pp.8-9)


The Ca Mau shipwreck was discovered by fishermen working of the Ca Mau peninsular when their nets snagged on it. When they realised the porcelain was saleable they began dredging up as much as possible. Once the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture and Information realised what was happening they moved in quickly to secure the wreck site. The excavation was lead by the Curator of The National Museum of Vietnamese culture. In all, 130,000 pieces were recovered and 76,000 of the finer condition pieces were selected to be sold as 'Made in Imperial China. 76,000 pieces of Chinese Export Porcelain from the Ca Mau Shipwreck, circa 1725' by Sotheby’s Amsterdam on 29, 30 & 31 January 2007. (Amsterdam 2007, pp.6-7


The Ca Mau wreck was first reported on in the daily newspaper Tuoi Tre (Youth) on May the 5th 1998. Accordingly, the authority of Binh Thuan province had confiscated 32,569 artefacts and 2,4 tons of metal objects recovered illegally by two fishermen from a shipwreck off the coast of Ca Mau province. Two experts dated 33,978 artefacts, mainly ceramics, to the Yongzheng reign of the Qing dynasty (1723-1735). Afterward, the recoveries, coded CMI, were handed over to the Binh Thuan Museum. (Amsterdam 2007, p.11)


Shipwreck Porcelains - The Ca Mau Shipwreck, c.1725


Object 2012074


Teacup & saucer






Provenance: Made in Imperial China. 76.000 pieces of Chinese Export Porcelain from the Ca Mau shipwreck, circa 1725 sale, Sotheby's Amsterdam, 29, 30 & 31 January 2007.


Height of teacup 35 mm (1.38 inch), diameter of rim 67 mm (2.64 inch), diameter of footring 28 mm (1.10 inch), weight 41 grams (1.45 ounce (oz.)) 

Height of saucer 21 mm (0.83 inch), diameter of rim 107 mm (4.21 inch), diameter of footring 58 mm (2.28 inch), weight 61 grams (2.15 ounce (oz.)) 


Teacup and saucer on footring, slightly everted rims. Batavia Brown covered with underglaze dark brown and underglaze-blue with a corner of a balcony overlooking flowering prunus and peony plants, a large insect above, the rim with a herringbone border the reverse is covered with underglaze dark brown, the teacup is decorated en suite. On the base of the saucer handwritten in black ink: 'CM4 - 8732', a rectangular paper label with the handwritten numbers: '81486/B' (in blue) and '69' (in red) and the original Sotheby's - UNICOM, CA MAU - BINH THUAN label with number 54339.  On the base of the teacup handwritten in black ink: 'CM4 - 13.397 and a rectangular paper label with the handwritten numbers: '82358/B' (in blue) and '13' (in red), on the exterior wall the original Sotheby's - UNICOM, CA MAU - BINH THUAN label with number 60826.(Amsterdam 2007, p.55)


The design on this teacup and saucer is known as the 'Fence' pattern. In total 153 teacups and saucers, with this design were sold. (Amsterdam 2007, lot 125-128)



Saucer: A frit and a short hairline to the rim.

Teacup: Three fleebites and two frits to the rim.



Amsterdam 2007, lot 125-128


Price: € 399 - $ 447 - £ 350

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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