The SS Republic was a Civil War-era sidewheel steamship that sank in 1865 while carrying a large cargo of silver and gold coins and a stunning variety of everyday wares essential to life in mid-19th century America. Over 51,000 U.S. gold and silver coins were recovered from the wreck site, as well as over 14,000 artifacts - a fascinating assortment of 19th century goods in use during the Civil War years.
En route from New York to New Orleans with passengers and commercial cargo, the Republic was lost in a violent hurricane on October 25, 1865. The passengers and crew escaped from the sinking ship, yet a fortune in coins and much needed cargo to help rebuild New Orleans' post-Civil War economy sank to the bottom of the Atlantic seabed 518 meters deep.
Nearly 140 years later, Odyssey Marine Exploration discovered the shipwreck of the Republic approximately 100 miles off the Georgia coast. The archaeological excavation was accomplished using advanced robotics and cutting-edge technologies. This was the first of its kind ever performed at such depths. In addition to the wealth of knowledge gained from the Republic shipwreck project, the success of the archaeological excavation has set a precedent for achieving the highest archaeological standards essential to the emerging field of deep-water shipwreck exploration and recovery.
The treasures from the SS Republic have been conserved. Rare items remain in the permanent collection and many are on display at various venues around the world. Certain items are available for collectors through the shipwreck store and the private curatorship program.
Many of the artifacts can be seen in a Virtual Museum. Hundreds of artifacts are on display around the world in various museums and venues, including the SHIPWRECK! traveling exhibit. Several archaeological reports have been published on the wreck alongside two documentaries and thousands of newspaper and broadcast news pieces.
The excavation of the SS Republic shipwreck site yielded a number of headbands, fashionable among women in mid-Victorian America. The headbands, such as this example, are made of vulcanite, a hard rubber-like material discovered by Charles Goodyear around 1839.
The gold coins carpeting the SS Republic shipwreck were recovered during the archaeological excavation of the site The excavation produced over 51,000 gold and silver coins, many in mint condition and never circulated.
The SS Republics portside paddlewheel remains on the ocean floor, a sea-shrouded memory to the year the Civil War ended.
Several everyday goods were discovered on the Republic site, including clock parts.
The walking beam engine remains on the SS Republic shipwreck site, too fragile to recover to the surface.
An inquisitive crab climbs aboard the recovery container holding gold coins from the SS Republic shipwreck site.
The soft rubber limpet device attached to the ROV's manipulator arm retrieves a Drakes bottle from the SS Republic shipwreck site.
Silver coins on the seabed, later identified as Seated Liberty silver half-dollars, spill from a wooden barrel eroding in the harsh Gulf Stream current.
A shipment of religious artifacts including pressed glass crucifix candlesticks and porcelain candlesticks featuring the Holy Family, was excavated from the SS Republic shipwreck site. The cargo was bound for New Orleans for use in private homes, convents and perhaps religious schools.