This fascinating circular roundel or plaque was produced in England during the late 19th century, circa 1880. The hand painted gilt plaque commemorates the escapades of Captain George Shelvocke. It really does glow better than on our images.
This item was purchased alongside a hatchment plaque from the same period for the ‘Shelvoke’ family. The plaques were probably produced for a family member, likely explaining the dropping of the ‘c’ in Shelvoke for the crest as the spelling of family names are known to have evolved over time. Whoever produced the items was a talented artist, most likely a professional sign writer.
George Shelvocke History.
George Shelvocke (baptised 1 April 1675 – d 30 November 1742) was an English Royal Navy officer and later privateer who in 1726 wrote ‘A Voyage Round the World by Way of the Great South Sea’ based on his exploits. It includes an account of h
ow his second captain, Simon Hatley, shot an albatross off Cape Horn, an incident which provided the dramatic motive in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
The ‘Speedwell’ captained by Shelvocke was involved in a 1719 expedition to loot Spanish ships and settlements along the Pacific coast of the Americas. On 25 May 1720 the Speedwell was wrecked on an island of Juan Fernández called Más a Tierra by the Spanish. Shelvocke and his crew were marooned there for five months but managed to build a 20-ton boat using hardware salvaged from the wreck and wood obtained from locally felled trees.
Leaving the island on 6 October, they transferred into their first prize, renamed the ‘Happy Return’, and resumed privateering. They continued up the coast of South America from Chile to Baja California, capturing more vessels along the way, before crossing the Pacific to Macao and returning to England in July 1722.
In England Shelvocke was arrested on charges of fraud at the instigation of the principal shareholders of the voyage, though he avoided conviction through out-of-court settlements with two of the complainants. They suspected, probably with reason, that he had failed to let them know about a significant portion of the loot obtained from the voyage, and planned to keep it for himself and other members of his crew. In this he likely succeeded.
The plaque is on gilt card or wood, the script is beautifully executed. The plaque is framed in a Victorian circular hardwood frame behind convex glass, ready to hang. This is a delightful item, a unique conversation piece. Aside from the books, there is very little art or antiques associated with George Shelvocke. This is the perfect piece for anyone with an interest for all things naval and maritime.
Please see our collection of 18th and 19th century art and antiques listed separately in our store.
Measuring: Frame dimeter 6.75 inch (17 cm). Aperture diameter 3.25 inch (8 cm).
Condition: All good, ready to display.
A unique, one of a kind item of maritime history.
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UNIQUE 19th Century Captain George Shelvocke Commemorative Plaque Circa 1880 Victorian
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