Artifact of the Month – Maple Leaf Carvings

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Nickerson

This month’s artifact choice is a set of 9 maple leaf carvings that I have been researching the last few weeks.  When I first came across them I noticed that there was writing on the back regarding their particular histories, which for some reason was not in our computer system.  The story of the leaves starts with the man who carved them, Gilbert Nickerson of Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia.

He was known as the “Old Chairmaker” and collected wood from ships to make into chairs, maple leaves, and other interesting pieces.  In one of his chairs he is even reported to have used a piece from Titanic.  The southern area in Nova Scotia where Nickerson lived was rather treacherous for ships and so a great number of them were stranded or sank, causing lots of wood to drift ashore.   Read more

A Valentine For Our Readers

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na103

A bit of Valentine’s Day fun for this blog post which looks at artifacts in our collection that are cataloged with the words valentine, love, darling, chocolate, candy,  kiss and heart in either the name or description fields in our collections database.

VALENTINE   Read more

One Man's Trash….

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Lego octopus
Lego octopus from Devon, England. Courtesy of the BBC

Well, you know the old saying. But here’s a story from Cornwall (England) to get Lego enthusiasts making vacation plans for the southern UK beaches. Read the full story from the BBC here

Seems that a rogue wave hit the container ship Tokio Express back in 1997 and washed off several containers about 20 miles west of Land’s End. One of the containers was chock-a-block with Legos, about 5 million of them. 17 years later, they’re still washing up.   Read more

Concordia Flies the Blue Peter!

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Papa
Papa (formerly known as Blue Peter), courtesy of easyflags.co.uk.

For the first time in over 2 years, the raised hulk of the Costa Concordia hoisted the Blue Peter, the flag now simply known as Papa that indicates a ship is ready to sail. And so, tugs rotated her and headed nor’nor’east and away from the coast of the Isola del Giglio. Exceptional photographic coverage of the moment can be found here.

It is strange coincidence that led to our cataloguing a book just yesterday on the Concordia that was published in 2006. Entitled simply Costa Concordia, this lovely book by Tiziana Lorenzelli gives the reader a great sense of the splendor of the liner just after it was launched. It was clearly the pride of Costa Crociere, the cruise ship company that had the liner built. This book is rather haunting to me in the same way our Titanic materials are. People died aboard this ship, and it is hard to square the beauty of it with its terrible fate and the tragedy of 32 lives confirmed lost.   Read more

GOLD!

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SS George Law
SS George Law, later known as Central America, in The Mariners’ Museum collections
While not everything that glitters is gold in a shipwreck, one particular wreck that has been widening eyes and dropping jaws since 1988 is back in the news. That is the wreck of the SS Central America, a Pacific Mail steamer sunk in a hurricane off Hatteras in 1857. This past week, the side wheeler was back in the news with word from US District Court in Norfolk that the salvage company’s operational reports and an inventory of the the magnificent treasure of gold pieces could be made public. See a detailed report at www.maritime-executive.com


The reason the salvors were in court in the first place is a tale of treachery. The marine engineer who found the hulk in 1988, a man named Tommy Thompson, worked to salvage a hoard of gold bars and gold coins. The Central America, it seems, carried a cargo of $2 million in gold, now worth orders of magnitude more. It appears that the gentleman took some of the salvaged gold worth about $50 million, sold it, spent some or all of it on legal wranglings, and walked away without paying his investors a red cent. There is a warrant out for his arrest, and he is considered a federal fugitive (see the story here).   Read more