Monday, February 13, 2017

2/13/17 Report - Shipwreck Galley Bricks. An Unlikely T. C. Shipwreck Beach Find: One of My Personal Favorites.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Someone recently found an old brick along with shipwreck spikes.  They wanted to know if the brick could be from the shipwreck.  As you probably know, bricks were used for the galley ovens.

There are some shipwreck bricks shown in the Mel Fisher database.

I did a post some years ago on a possible galley brick found on a Treasure Coast beach along with some links to references about such bricks.  In that old post you'll also find an illustration of a galley oven.  I won't bother to repeat all of that.

Here is the link.


A few days ago I was talking about finds that present challenges.  I had one that was a real challenge for me.  I didn't appreciate at the time how rare it was.  I didn't even know exactly what it was when I found it.  It would have been better if I found it today rather than years ago.

The find I'm talking about is a wax seal impression.  When I picked it up near the water's edge on a popular shipwreck beach, I could see a little of the design on it, but I wasn't sure what it was made of.  It was hard and had sand stuck on it.  It wasn't heavily encrusted, but was encrusted in spots enough to obscure part of the design.  I showed that seal in my 2/3/16 post, but that is not exactly how it looked when found

Wax Seal Impression Found on Shipwreck Beach Years Ago.
If you look just right of center, you can see a wing.  To the left of that is the birds body and below that the thighs, which look in the picture like two balls.

Below is an example of an eagle in a similar position, although the wax one has the wings closer to the body and the head is turned the other direction.  I can't see what if anything might be below the thighs, which are identifiable.

As I think you can see from the photo, it is still covered by some crust.  especially to the left of the bird and above the body.

Since I didn't know what it was made of when I first found it, I certainly didn't know how to clean and preserve it.  I've done a little research and what I've concluded so far is that it is a difficult problem. One of the best studies, which was conducted by a museum because the seals that they were displaying were crumbling, couldn't find a highly effective method and decided instead to recreate identical ones from ancient sealing wax recipes.  And that was an easier task, considering those wax seals were not on a salt water beach for hundreds of years.  Antique wax seals that had not endured that rough environment and were kept in near ideal conditions still crumbled over time.  I'm really amazed it survived at all.  Even though I didn't appreciate it when I found it, and still did not appreciate for some years after, it has become one of my favorite finds.  It is one example of a find that I found too early.  I would have been better prepared for it if I found it today, but I will probably never find another old wax seal impression on a beach.  That was probably one of those once-in-a-lifetime things.

Below is the link to a study in which wax seals were created from antique sealing wax recipes and various methods of preservation were tested.

Maybe other wax seals have been found on a beach or shipwreck site, but I have not read or heard of any yet.


We'll have more small surf, but there will be some more big tides.

I'm starting to think we might not get any good winter storms this year.  Sometimes we get some rougher seas in March.

I know there will be more beach renourishment.  Some has already started and I've seen equipment being readied for Fort Pierce.

Happy hunting,