Saturday, December 8, 2012

12/8/12 Report - The Wreck of La Belle, and Lumps, Crust & Iron

One very nice web site presents an early and important shipwreck, the wreck of La Belle, one of La Salle's ships that wrecked in the Gulf near Texas.  It has a lot of great photos and explanation.

Below is the link.  You might want to go through the entire presentation.   It is really very good.

Photo From Referenced Web Site
Among the artifacts presented there is the grouping shown in this photo.  Notice the strainer. 

Back in my 11/25/12 post I showed a crushed dug object that could have also been a strainer.  It is not shaped the same as this one. Nonetheless that is my best guess as to what it is.  It seems to be made of a similar material, is concave, and has bunches of holes.  I don't know if that is what it is, but at this point that is my best guess.

The SedwickCoins online store has a shipwreck strainer for sale.  That one isn't the same shape as either the dug one or the one shown in this photo.

One problem with digging beach artifacts is that they often aren't in great shape and can be difficult to identify.   Sometimes I wish they came out of the sand with labels that gave all the info you could want.  On the other hand, solving the puzzle can be both educational and fun. 

Notice the object towards the bottom right corner of that photo.  The halberd.

That is a reconstruction from the concretion shown in the photo immediately below.  Not much of the iron actually remained.  Not enough to reveal the shape of the object.

Concretion Shown in Above Referenced Web Site
Before I proceed, I want to commend the Texas Beyond History Project for a great web site.  And also TAMU, which I've often mentioned in the past for their online information regarding conservation of salvaged materials.

Beach detectorists who are not disregarding iron signals will often find encrusted lumps like this.  Too often those lumps are simply thrown away without any additional investigation.  That is too bad.  You never know what might be in a lump like that.  It might be nothing, or it might be something interesting.  Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell.

One thing that can be done is an x-ray.  Some museums will sometimes offer to look at things like this for you and sometimes they will even do an x-ray.

Inside of Concretion.
The red in the illustration to the right shows the amount of metal that remained in the concretion.   The dark blue area around the red shows the shape of the original iron object where the iron has disintegrated and left a vacancy.

Sometimes a mold remains in a concretion that permits the recreation of the object even though the iron has completely dissolved. 

If you are in the habit of completely disregarding encrusted lumps like this, I hope you will appreciate them more and treat them differently now.

You are more likely to find encrusted lumps like this if you hunt in all-metals or pinpoint mode. 

Below are two more lumps.  On one enough has been removed to reveal what appears to possibly be part of a blade.

The other is completely empty and shows the perfect imprint of the head of a square spike.  If you poured a molding compound into the hole, you could create a copy of what was in there.

Encrustation Partially Removed to Reveal Remaining Iron
Encrustation Showing Vacancy Left By Iron Object


It is really a beautiful day out there this morning.  Virtually no wind.  And gentle surf - only two to four feet.

The surf will continue to decrease the next few days, which will give you a good chance to get way out in the low tide zone or even in the water.

Low tide today is around 9 AM.

Happy hunting,