More than 50 artefacts pertaining to the wine trade and shipping in Malta in the early 20th century have been donated to the Maritime Museum.

The artefacts - from the personal collection of the Dacoutros family - were presented to the museum by John Dacoutros.

The donation includes a built up wooden model of the Maria Dacutros. This represents the barquentine Maria Dacutros popularly known as Maria. The vessel was built in 1920 at Castellamare di Stabia in Italy as a double-hulled wine tanker.

In 1943 she was fitted with a Kelvin diesel motor that was manufactured by Bergins Co Ltd of Glasgow in 1939. The Maria sailed on average at five knots per hour but could make more than 10 knots with the engine and moderate wind.

She was 34.95 metres long and could carry 209.8 tons of wine on each trip.

The barquentine, previously called Ġesú & Maria, was bought on July 15, 1919 by Spiridione Dacuotros from Charles Ellul Sullivan for ₤920. After WWII the vessel served as a training unit for many state port managers and dispatched mail to Sicily.

According to Lloyds of London the Maria was the largest and last remaining wine tanker of its kind in the world. On April 28, 1952 she was lost in heavy seas at Cape Zevgasi near Limassol Cyprus. The Maria was the pride of the fleet pertaining to the Dacoutros family.

The Dacoutros were one of the largest ship owners and wine importers for decades in the 20th century. The objects help one to understand a relatively unknown part of Malta’s recent history – that of the wine trade – and Malta’s connection to its Greek neighbours to the east.

The donation also included various wooden barrels, copper lanterns, and numerous ship paraphernalia.

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