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An Intact Wooden Chest from the 1686 Wreck of La Belle Michael C. West, M.A., Research Associate, Conservation Research Laboratory, Texas A&M University,

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Presentation on theme: "An Intact Wooden Chest from the 1686 Wreck of La Belle Michael C. West, M.A., Research Associate, Conservation Research Laboratory, Texas A&M University,"— Presentation transcript:

1 An Intact Wooden Chest from the 1686 Wreck of La Belle Michael C. West, M.A., Research Associate, Conservation Research Laboratory, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

2 Background Other Finds: Trade Items (knives, glass beads, hawk’s bells, brass Jesuit rings) Weaponry (polearms, muskets, swords) Navigational Tools (nocturnal, dividers, sounding leads)

3 Conservation Research Laboratory

4 The Chest Dimensions: 25.5 inches long 13 inches wide 13.5 inches tall Weight: 300+ pounds

5 Thesis Research Questions Who did the chest belong to? Who did the chest belong to? Was the chest locked? Private or public? Was the chest locked? Private or public? Why is there such an eclectic group of items? Why is there such an eclectic group of items? Why was this chest on the ship when it sank? Why was this chest on the ship when it sank?

6 The Chest

7 LeftEnd BoardsRight

8 Preliminary Work Cleaning Cleaning Orientation Orientation Hardware Hardware Sideboards Sideboards

9 Chest Discoveries X-rays X-rays Fasteners Fasteners Hinges Hinges Lock Lock Orientation Orientation

10 The Internal Matrix – like hardened cement!!

11 Artifact Material

12 Wood h

13 Lead  Sounding Weight  Counterweight?  Line Weight  Musket Ball  Hand Pump Valve Piece? Sieve?

14 The Beauty of the Brass  Scabbard Chape  Sword Hilt Guard  Diamond-shaped Washer on Brewer’s Gimlet Thimble Fragment Dividers Sword Hilt Knuckle Bow

15 Iron Preservation I

16 Iron Preservation II Think of getting a cast on a broken bone!

17 After the Chest is Apart…

18 Inside the Chest

19 Cooper’s Heading Saw

20 Cooper’s Axe

21 Brewer’s Gimlet

22 Cooper’s Draw Knives

23 Carpenter’s Draw Knife

24 Draw Knife Handles

25 Cooper’s Adze

26 Two Adzes

27 Chisels/Gouges

28 Augers One complete auger with wooden handle, + five additional iron bits wrapped together with twine

29 Small Gimlet – with “WF” Initials! Gimlet

30 Hewing Hatchet

31 Other Objects

32 Tinderbox  Very poor condition  Made of tin  Circular, about 12 cm (5 inches) across and 4.5 cm (1 ¾ inches) high  Five compartments inside  One small circular compartment in center, about 2 cm across  Four other chambers created by tin walls radiating away from this center compartment at ninety degree angles  Lead-based solder for securing compartment walls to rest of box

33 Reaping Hook (Times Two)

34 Small Padlock

35 Drumsticks

36 Shackle Bolt Lock A quick-fix for holding prisoners?

37 Gaff…or Cattle Hook?

38 Sounding Lead (Shallow Water) Weight: 3.38 kg (7.45 lb)

39 Navigational Dividers

40 Fishing Net Weight

41 7-Tine Fishing Spear

42 Sword Hilt Grip Knuckle Bow Guard Where is the missing piece, the pommel?

43 The Missing Pommel?

44 Sword Hilt Grip

45 Pewter Fork - “M CARDIN” & “FIN” 1691: Michel Cardin becomes one of three pewter tax officials in La Rochelle 1707: Cardin dies and his wife Elizabeth takes over his authority as tax official

46 *Mystery* Artifacts

47 Ownership Cooper – cooper’s axe, cooper’s adze, 2 cooper’s draw knives, brewer’s gimlet, cold chisel, cooper’s heading saw Cooper – cooper’s axe, cooper’s adze, 2 cooper’s draw knives, brewer’s gimlet, cold chisel, cooper’s heading saw Carpenter – square, mortising chisel, 2 adzes, hatchet, 2 gouges, gimlet, draw knife, augers Carpenter – square, mortising chisel, 2 adzes, hatchet, 2 gouges, gimlet, draw knife, augers Ship’s Pilot – sounding lead, fishing spear, net weight, dividers, possible gaff Ship’s Pilot – sounding lead, fishing spear, net weight, dividers, possible gaff

48 Ownership Livestock Tender? Soldier? Farmer? One of the elite? (Sword, 3 padlocks, possible gate pull, thimble, lead shot, 4 drumsticks, fork…) Livestock Tender? Soldier? Farmer? One of the elite? (Sword, 3 padlocks, possible gate pull, thimble, lead shot, 4 drumsticks, fork…) Maybe a kleptomaniac! Maybe a kleptomaniac! Initials: “WF” from gimlet & “IO”? “JO”? “OI”? “OJ”? (etc) from fork = Differing origins! Initials: “WF” from gimlet & “IO”? “JO”? “OI”? “OJ”? (etc) from fork = Differing origins!

49 A Possible History La Rochelle  l’Aimable La Rochelle  l’Aimable L’Aimable  Camp constructed of l’Aimable wood L’Aimable  Camp constructed of l’Aimable wood Camp  La Belle Camp  La Belle La Belle  Staging Area La Belle  Staging Area Staging Area  Permanent Settlement Staging Area  Permanent Settlement -- La Salle reverses orders! Permanent Settlement  Back to Belle, one last time…

50 End

51 It’s a Dirty Job… …Any Questions?


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