Welcome to our ninth annual series of diving-related pictures.  Each season's gallery has brought new questions for us, from you, and we hope that this 2020 edition continues the trend from those of you who have an interest in shipwrecks, artifacts or scuba diving in general.  A big THANKS to my friends and/or diving partners Howard Rothweiler, Harry Maisch, Joe Fiorentino and Bob Harris for letting me use a few of their photographs this season.  Enjoy!

Below are the first diving pictures for 2019 and prior years.  The first three pictures of each year are displayed.  To see additional photos for that year, click on "See More Pictures."  If you would like to see a slide show of a year's pictures, click on the first picture.  The picture will also be larger.  

BART L. MAJOR  -  MARCH 23, 1965 - JUNE 26, 2018

(Click here to see our tribute to Bart)


Like the green and blue edged plates and serving platters featured in our 2018 gallery, these soup plates were also manufactured by the ADAMS POTTERY, Staffordshire, England, circa 1830.
Early-19th century Staffordshire potters used many different border designs on their edge wares. Here are three different designs we found on our recovered ADAMS POTTERY examples.
This 1725 French Ecu silver coin and lead musket balls came from the French ship LE CHAMEAU, which was wrecked off of Cape Breton, N.S. on August 27, 1725. Our friend Joe Fiorvanti was part of the salvage team from the 1990's-2010 and GAVE me these examples. Thanks Joe!
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Blue and green edged serving platters sorted by size and color. We ultimately ended up with seven distinct sizes in blue and the same identical seven sizes in green. All of these examples were made by the ADAMS POTTERY, Staffordshire, England, circa 1830. Every single edge, regardless of color, was hand painted with a single brush stroke by skilled pottery workers.
Stacks of green and blue edged plates and serving platters on deck after an UNFORGETABLE day of diving back in 2002! These plates and platters, along with others that were eventually recovered, were all made by the ADAMS POTTERY, Staffordshire, England, circa 1830.
This large blue and white transferware wash bowl is another broken shard that I was able to identify through research. This pattern is called "DIORAMA VIEW OF BRECKNOCK" which was made by an unknown potter in Staffordshire, England, circa 1830.
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This blue and white transferware pitcher pattern is known as "BASKET OF FLOWERS". It was manufactured by the pottery firm of RALPH & JAMES CLEWS, of Staffordshire, England, circa 1830. It came off of the same shipwreck that gave us our previous transferware examples.
This blue and white transferware pattern is called "CHRISTMAS EVE" and was also made by the pottery firm of RALPH & JAMES CLEWS, Staffordshire, England, circa 1830. Unlike our previous tea bowl examples no matching saucers of this pattern were found.
Although many of our transferware items were recovered in pristine condition, many other interesting one-of-a-kind broken fragments were recovered from our wreck as well. I have included a couple of decent examples this season. This "ST. CATHERINE'S HILL NEAR GUILDFORD" plate was made by the ADAMS POTTERY, Staffordshire, England, circa 1830.
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Bronze Chronometer
This small bronze chronometer was recovered while our group worked on a shipwreck identification project in 2003. It was found on the same wreck, in the same hole, as the octant in the 2015 dive gallery. Chronometers were very accurate clocks used by early ship captains in conjunction with octants, or sextants, for navigational purposes. This instrument is stamped "PARKINSON & FRODSHAM, CHANGE ALLEY, LONDON, 806" which represents the makers, their business location and the serial number.
Gables Farms
This blue and white transferware tea bowl
and saucer set is called "GABLES FARM."
They were manufactured by the ADAMS POTTERY,
of Staffordshire, England, circa 1830, and were
a small part of a sailing ship cargo bound to
New York from Liverpool.
Mother & Son With Dog
This blue and white transferware tea bowl and saucer set is known as "MOTHER AND SON WITH DOG" and were also manufactured by the ADAMS POTTERY of Staffordshire, England, circa 1830. They were part of the same cargo as the set above along with the other transferware items in my earlier galleries. We feel very fortunate to have recovered these delicate artifacts intact and in pristine condition!
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This gorgeous artifact is called an octant which was the earliest version of the modern sextant. It was found completely intact in 2003 by one of my friends while our group was working on a shipwreck identification project. It is made of ebony wood with an ivory inlay and bronze fittings. It is marked "T. JONES--LIVERPOOL", which was the name of the maker, and dates circa 1793-1827. It was definitely the find of a lifetime!!
The scene on this blue and white transferware tea bowl and saucer set is called "VISIT TO MY LADY'S BOWER". These items were made by the ADAMS POTTERY in Staffordshire, England, circa 1830. They were a small part of a general cargo aboard a sailing vessel coming to New York from Liverpool. They were buried deep in sediment which helped to keep them in pristine condition!
This transferware tea bowl, with a scene called "URNS, SCROLLS & FLOWERS", was made in Staffordshire, England, by the pottery firm of RALPH & JAMES CLEWS, circa 1830. It is the only example of this pattern in our collections.
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Any artifacts worth recovering should be worth preserving! Some require very little effort to preserve and others can be a real challenge. Glass or china, like these early-1800's hand painted serving platters and dishes, are non-porous and the easiest things to clean and display. We place these items in a weak muriatic acid/fresh water solution for a week or two to dissolve away any attached conglomerate, if needed, and then give them a final bath in plain fresh water for a couple of days.
Ceramic artifacts, like these pot lids and ink well, are also non-porous and easily cleaned using the same steps as for glass or china.
Bronze or brass artifacts, like these small AURORA hardware cargo items require a bit more time to clean. We use a weak muriatic/fresh water solution, like for china, glass and ceramics, to dissolve away any attached growth or conglomerate. Once cleaned we then soak the items in plain fresh water--a toilet tank works extremely well--to get rid of any potential salt in the metal. A final cleaning with a brillo pad and brass cleaner will polish the artifacts, if desired.
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"What was your first artifact?"
This small bronze clip was found on my very first wreck dive, in 1982, to the paddle wheel steam boat MISTLETOE which burned and sank off of Rockaway Beach, NY, on May 5, 1924. It was just lying on the bottom, out in the open, waiting to be picked up. I thought it would always be that easy! WRONG!!
"Have you ever found gold?"
Years ago I found the back half of a silver pocket watch case while diving on the steamship MOHAWK, which was lost on January 25, 1935, off of Manasquan, NJ. The inside of the case was engraved with the following: S W Co, 14 KT Gold Filled, 25 years, 5616798. Although not much, I can technically say that I HAVE INDEED found gold ...and silver!! This 1817, 22 carat gold British Half Sovereign coin was found by one of my friends on an undisclosed wreck in 2003.
"What is your oldest artifact?"
I recovered this bronze flintlock pistol barrel and musket ball back in 2003 from an undisclosed sailing ship wreck. The wooden parts of the gun rotted away long ago leaving only the metal behind. By researching the marks stamped on the barrel I was able to confirm that the pistol was made by the gun making firm of EDWARD NORTH & SON who existed in business from 1733-1771, on Threadneedle Street in London!! It is MUCH OLDER than the wreck from which it was recovered.
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The fire that engulfed the steamship DELAWARE in 1898, off of Bay Head, NJ, was hot enough that it melted many of her brass fixtures and fittings like this 6-inch door strap hinge.
This small brass picture frame was lost when the American passenger liner FORT VICTORIA was rammed and sunk at the entrance to NY Harbor in 1929. It survived intact in spite of the 47 TONS of dynamite used to blow the wreck apart after the sinking as well as over 60 years on the sea floor.
The fire that sank the commercial scallop boat OSPREY in 1961 off of Asbury Park, NJ, got so hot that it melted the brass handle off of this valve causing it to drip down the valve body like an ice cream cone on a summer day. Two solidified drips can still be seen on the lower right.
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Winter diving is DEFINITELY equipment intensive!
A walk on the moon would probably require less gear. Here one of the guys is nearly ready to take the plunge.
Mementos from a bygone era can still be found, with a little effort, on many NJ shipwrecks. The spoons and deadeye are from an 1800's sailing ship while the brass valve and dish are from a 1920's steamship.
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