Thousands of glass and stoneware bottles were recovered from the SS Republic's aft and forward cargo holds. Their shapes and sizes reflect a rich and diverse heritage of bottled goods in use around the time of the American Civil War including an intriguing assortment of medicinal cures, ink bottles and inkstands, food products, cosmetic products, as well as bitters and alcoholic beverages. Many of the bottles were removed from the remains of wooden packing crates, which after years of saltwater exposure, abrasion from the strong Gulf Stream currents, and attacks by wood-boring shipworms were too deteriorated to recover.
The combined volume and variety of bottled goods seem to represent the largest and possibly most diverse collection ever recovered from any shipwreck site. The subsequent study and analysis has provided a rare insight into prevailing social and economic conditions in New Orleans following the Civil War. For more information on the SS Republic bottles, see "Bottles from the Deep" and the archaeological papers about the SS Republic available here.
Additional information about each bottle category and examples of bottle types are available through the categories below.