Shipwrecked china makes its way to Bideford

Jonathan and John Biggs with the collection of china pulled from the Tek Sing.

Jonathan and John Biggs with the collection of china pulled from the Tek Sing. - Credit: Archant

The curious coral-encrusted pieces were salavaged from the ‘Titanic of the East’ and have sat on the sea floor for more than 170 years.

Some of the pieces are covered in coral after spending more than 170 years underwater.

Some of the pieces are covered in coral after spending more than 170 years underwater. - Credit: Archant

A COLLECTION of coral-encrusted china salvaged from the wreckage of the ‘Titanic of the East’ has ended up in a Bideford antiques shop.

John Biggs, of J. Collins & Son, came across the plates and bowls and thought they would be of interest in the family shop, run by his son Jonathan.

The crockery, which dates back to the early 19th century, has spent the last 177 years at the bottom of the South China Sea after the three-masted junk ship carrying it sunk.

Disaster struck in January 1822 when the Tek Sing, or ‘True Star’, struck rocks and sank, along with 200 crew members, 1,600 passengers and a hold full of cargo.


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Only 190 people were rescued from the wreckage, and the ship remained on the ocean floor until it was discovered by marine salver Michael Hatcher in 1999.

Mr Hatcher salvaged the china cargo and sold it at auction the following year in Stugard, Germany, before some of it came into the possession of Mr Biggs.

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He said: “I thought the coral-covered pieces would be the least popular but surprisingly they have had the most interest.

“The best thing about them is they are an affordable piece of history – some of the small tea bowls are only £5.

“I think it’s interesting to the people of Bideford especially with the maritime connection the town has.”

To see the pieces or find out more about the history behind the china visit J. Collins & Son in Charles Avenue, Kingsley Road.

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