Welcome to the Ronson ship!
I am an intern in the Collections Management department and I have been tasked with re-cataloging and re-housing all of the artifacts that pertain to the Ronson ship. The bags and boxes that the Ronson ship artifacts were placed in when they came to The Mariner’s Museum in 1985 are falling a part which means the items are not properly stored. So I am going through each and every box (there are 78 boxes, that I am aware of) and putting all the items back into new bags. When the Ronson ship came The Mariner’s Museum a cataloging system was not put in place nor was a detailed inventory sheet made. So I am re-numbering each item and creating a new inventory sheet of each box.
The Ronson ship is an 18th century British merchant ship that was found under 175 Water Street in Manhattan, New York in January of 1982. She was 21 feet below street level, her stern was supporting Front Street, and she was beautifully intact. A team of expert archaeologists were brought in and given the month of February to remove the ship and all that came with her. After freezing temperatures, mudslides, cave-ins, and picket lines, the hull (the front) of the ship was finally free. Only the bow and several key timbers were removed because the rest of the ship was holding up Front Street. She was quickly taken to a conservation laboratory in Groton, Massachusetts and immersed in tanks filled with a solution of water and polyethylene glycol (PEG). She was left to soak for two years. This solution allowed the timbers of the Ronson ship to hold their shape after the conservation process was complete. After this phase of conservation, she was brought to The Mariner’s Museum in 1985 to begin the slow drying process. The Mariner’s Museum was supposed to continued to apply PEG to the timbers for two more years and then begin plans for an exhibit. The drying process was completed but, sadly, no exhibit plans were made. The timbers of the Ronson ship were left to occupy one whole storage area and all the other items pertaining to the Ronson ship were bagged and placed in boxes which are in another storage area separate from the timbers.
The Ronson ship is the only archaeologically investigated British merchant ship from the early 18th century. In recent years new information on the Ronson ship’s past life has come to light. If you would like to read more about the Ronson ship’s life and her adventures in the 18th and 20th centuries, keep an eye out for Warren Riess’ (the head archaeologist of the Ronson ship excavation) book The Ship That Held Up Wall Street coming out in the November of 2014 by Texas A&M University Press.