top of page

SS Republic Artifact

The excavation of the SS Republic yielded an assorted cargo of toiletry and hygiene aids including a syringe-like device believed to be a woman's douche. The item is made of vulcanite (vulcanized rubber), a typically black, rubber-like substance patented in 1844 by the American inventor Charles Goodyear. For a number of years Goodyear had been experimenting with vulcanization, the process of turning raw rubber into a useful, pliable, non-rotting substance, and perfected the process in 1839. Not long after, Charles' brother Nelson figured out how to turn the soft, malleable substance into a hard rubber (hard vulcanite) which he patented in 1851. Visible on the douche is the remains of a patent stamp suggestive of Nelson Goodyear's May 6th, 1851 patent for processing hard vulcanite.

A number of other vulcanite items, including hair combs and head bands were also recovered from the wreck site, stamped with the Goodyear patent along with that of the "I. R. COMB Co." which stands for the India Rubber Comb Company. In addition to hair combs, the company produced a host of other products including buttons, brushes, croquet and bowling ball, and very likely this hygienic douche.

Hygienic Douche

bottom of page