The Santa María made of gold. This masterpiece marks the entrance to the treasure chamber on deck 8 of the museum.
This masterpiece marks the entrance to the treasure chamber on deck 8 of the museum.
It is Christopher Columbus‘ „Santa María“ on a scale of 1:100. The model is made of 3.8 kg of 18-carat gold. The only exception are the thinner parts of the rigging, which are made of platinum, as gold cannot be made in such thin threads.
The history of this marvel goes back to 1992. Our founder, Prof. Peter Tamm, was talking to the jeweller Renatus Wilm about how to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the founding of the Wilm jeweller in Hamburg (1767). It is no surprise that Prof. Tamm suggested building a model ship. Since 1992 was the 500th anniversary of Columbus‘ discovery of the American continent, the „Santa María“ was a logical choice. It was more complicated to find a goldsmith who wanted to take on the project. The model was to be built piece by piece like a real ship. The smaller parts had to be welded, which required incredible precision. The right man for the job was Jan Bierschenk. He had previously worked for Wilm, demonstrating his outstanding talent, and had just opened his own workshop. The project was a challenge to prove his skills and an opportunity to test a new, state-of-the-art welding machine. The project also allowed him to combine his profession as a goldsmith with his hobby as a model maker.
After extensive research and testing, Bierschenk and his two employees began production. It took 3000 hours of work to create this piece of jewelry, which was delivered in October 1992, one week before the deadline. It has been on display in the museum since its opening in 2008.
After 30 years of working for some of the most internationally renowned jewellery manufacturers, Bierschenk is closing his workshop and going into well-deserved retirement. We wish him well and know that his work will be marvelled at by our visitors for generations to come.