These lovely plates feature bold cast rims of laurel leaf and berries.
Each is initialed in the center 'WSS' in beautiful foliate script style. On the back they are inscribed 'MADE OF SPANISH SILVER TAKEN FROM THE CRISTOBAL COLON SUNK IN THE BATTLE OF SANTIAGO DE CUBA JULY 3rd 1898'. They measure 8.75 inches in diameter and weigh 15.05 troy ounces each.
The Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus) was a Spanish Armored Cruiser, the newest addition to the Spanish fleet at the time of the Spanish American War. She was so new that at the time she was sent to defend Cuba she had been only partly outfitted and her 10-inch guns had not been mounted before she left. Along with several other Spanish warships, she was lost at the Battle of Santiago on July 3rd 1898 when the United States Navy won a decisive victory.
After she had been chased down and outmaneuvered by the American fleet, the Cristobal Colon was scuttled near the Cuban shore. When the Americans tried to retrieve her remains, she sank and is today still a diving attraction off the Cuban coast.
Taking war trophies such as this was common in the early 19th century and before, but the practice gradually fell out of favor and is considered illegal today. We've never had pieces like these. It is very rare to find silver that specifies the origin of the silver, and we've never seen any from Kirk's shop.