Among the more important inventions indispensable to mankind was the development of techniques for the long term preservation of food to prevent rapid spoiling. The use of glass to store food dates back to ancient times in the Old World and the earliest days of European settlement in the New World. By the 18th and 19th centuries, glass making techniques were further refined, providing a decrease in labor and a continued price reduction in glass containers.
By the mid-19th century, the most important types of containers were those designed for food storage. As Americans evolved from an agrarian-based model to a more industrial one, fewer families grew their own foods. More people relied upon prepared products. Population increases in the city meant bottled goods, like peaches, pickles, peppers, flavorings, relish and sauces needed to be produced and packaged in greater quantity.
The examples recovered from the SS Republic provide an exact glimpse of one distinct and significant moment in history; a cargo of select bottled goods carried aboard a steamship at sea, just months after the end of the Civil War heading south to replenish the shelves of New Orleans’ general stores following years of economic isolation.