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stepping stones of maritime history


In 1983 Michael Hatcher discovered a wreck of a Chinese junk that sank in the port of Batavia (today Jakarta). He recovered a part of the cargo. A small part of what, at the time, was the largest cargo of Chinese porcelain ever recovered in good condition from a shipwreck. Captain Michael Hatcher and his crew brought up about 25,000 pieces of unbroken porcelain from the Hatcher junk, which were then sold at Christie's Amsterdam. The wide diversity and quality of many of the pieces created great interest.

The date of sinking was established by two pieces with the Chinese cyclical date for 1643.


There are a number of controversies surrounding the salvage of historic wreck cargo undertaken by Michael Hatcher. The salvage of both the Tek Sing and the Geldermalsen have been heavily criticized by archaeologists for stripping archaeological sites of valuable artefacts without recording any context and destroying the less economically valuable parts of the assemblage, such as the ships themselves.


Pieces of the cargo are now on display at the exhibition 'Sunken Treasures' in museum Princessehof in Leeuwarden (the Netherlands).

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