Monday, April 4, 2011

Finland - The Wreck of Vrouw Maria 8.9.2004

Vrouw Maria (Lady Mary) was a Dutch wooden two-masted merchant ship carrying a valuable cargo of art objects, captained by Raymund Lourens, that sank on October 9, 1771, in the outer archipelago of the municipality of Nagu, Finland, 11 kilometers south-east of the island of Jurmo. In 1999, the ship was discovered by the members of Pro Vrouw Maria, led by Rauno Koivusaari. A dispute between the discoverers and the authorities was later resolved. The ship was in good condition when it was discovered, but only six objects from the deck of the ship have been salvaged. The cargo holds have not been disturbed, so the condition of any art on board remains unknown. The Finnish National Board of Antiquities is responsible for the ship and all recovery efforts. Vrouw Maria was loaded with precious artifacts including works of art belonging to Catherine the Great of Russia. The ship set sail from Amsterdam on September 5, 1771, for Saint Petersburg. One month later, on October 3, the ship was caught in a storm and ran aground near the island of Jurmo. The rocks caused only minor damage but shortly afterward the ship ran aground again and lost its rudder. The ship was released by a large wave but the crew found it leaking rapidly. Lowering anchor, the crewmen manned the pumps, but the ship continued to take on water. At dawn on October 4, the decision was made to abandon ship. The crew manned the ship's boats and safely reached nearby rocks, from which they hailed a passing boat. Help arrived the next day, but after several days no progress had been made toward stabilizing the ship, whose pump was clogged with coffee beans from the cargo. On the morning of October 9, the Vrouw Maria sank beneath the waves. While all the crew lived, only a fraction of the cargo was saved.

The First Day Cover titled Gulf of Finland, was issued on 8th September, 2004. The stamps show treasures of wrecks. Egelskär’s Ceramic drinking vessel represents every day life, Vrouw Maria’s seal represent trading, St. Mikael’s gold watch represents valuable items, Mulan’s tank for gunpowder represents history of warfare and St. Nikolai’s figurehead represents navigation and shipbuilding. This minisheet is the fourth one in the series. The first was issued in 2001, the second in 2002 and the third in 2003. This beautiful cover was given to me by Merja.

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