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The St Andries Silver Reliquary Ship of Amalfi

January until December 2004

In January 2004 seven Antwerp Heritage Volunteers started on a new project in the St Andries (Andrews) Church in Antwerp: cleaning the St Andrew silver reliquary ship of Amalfi by Jos Junes (1929).

The church wanted the beautiful silver sailing ship of Amalfi with the St Andrew reliquary to be cleaned before they put it on display in a new little museum next to the church. In fact they intend to put all the procession artefacts, of which the reliquary ship of St Andrew is the main object, on display in a glass window case.

Gloves are worn

The volunteers worked under the guidance of Claire Baisier who is responsible for restoration works in the St Andries church and Evelien van Biezen, master in conservation and restoration of precious and non-precious metals.

Volunteer cleaning the ship
Standing to get a the top Careful intensive work

When the volunteers started this project the museum rooms were not completely ready and the cleaning was done in those empty rooms on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

some of the silver fish

The ship was first dismantled as far as possible in order to clean the silver thoroughly, the difficulty being to remove an old varnish layer and also to remove a green moisture from the brass dolphins of the pedestal.

The ship
The volunteers

It was originally planned to be ready for the celebrations of the 475th jubilee on 6 June 2004 but neither the glass showcase nor the reliquary ship were ready by that time. During the festivities (to which all the volunteers were invited) the Amalfi ship was put on display, with information about ADFAS, NADFAS and the Heritage Volunteers. The volunteers answered questions from interested visitors about the ongoing work.

Finishing touches

The cleaning continued all summer and some volunteers did research on the silversmith, Jos Junes, at the Silver Museum “Sterckxhof” in Antwerp. Jos Junes was born in Antwerp in 1871 and he died in the city in 1934. His masterpiece is the “Jubilee Crown of Our Lady of Antwerp” (1912) in the Antwerp cathedral. At that time he was a city alderman but he was also teaching his art in a city school. He became famous as a metal chaser, who produced mainly religious works of art in silver.

By November 2004 the ship was reassembled and, for the volunteers, the project ended in December. Part of the rigging still needs restoration, but the restorer Evelien van Biezen will do this. Sadly, due to financial problems, the glass case is still not ready which means that the beautiful silver ship will get dirty again very rapidly. The volunteers promised to come back for a last quick cleaning just before the ship is placed in its glass window case.

Part of the finished ship
The ship before cleaning After cleaning
As with former projects at St Andries church, the volunteers were treated very well. Coffee and some sweets were always waiting for them and all the church personnel, including the main priest, Rudy Mannaerts, were extremely kind and helpful. It was a pleasure working for them. Above left: the ship before cleaning.

Above right: the ship after cleaning