20th century. Source Francesc Roig Toqués
The origin of metopes in vessels goes back to the covers that the iron-clad ships and cruise ships used at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century to cover the cannon mouths, and therefore protect the inside from saltpedre and humidity.
These covers bore an engraving of the ship’s shield and a tradition evolved of giving copies of these covers, i.e. the metotope, as a gift when visiting a port for the first time. This tradition became a standard courtesy and remains today as a diplomatic tradition between the representatives of the port authority or maritime command and the captain, pilot and officials on arriving ships.
The gift and exchange of metopes is based on the seafaring tradition, and has spread from the military sector to all areas of international navigation. What is more, they have bypassed their original significance, and today they are also commemorative anniversary emblems with the engraved date.
Francesc Roig Toqués collected various metopes and had up to one hundred, some of which were awarded to him personally in recognition of his work preserving and divulging the seafaring culture. For example, the one from the Museu Marítim de Barcelona or the Associació del Museu del Mar de Vilanova i la Geltrú.