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Personal Necessities

The assortment of utilitarian goods recovered from the SS Republic shipwreck site includes many personal wares common in mid-19th century America including humble leather shoes, similar to the Civil War-era brogues fashionable during the period; the remains of wooden hair brushes, along with two varieties of hair combs and stacks of ladies’ headbands made of hard vulcanite, a durable, rubber-like material; bone toothbrushes, their boar hair bristles no longer intact; and dozens of plain four-holed porcelain buttons, simple yet essential accessories. Also discovered among the mix of personal items are the remnants of chess and domino game pieces, relics of shipboard life and home entertainment.

Although the vast assortment of personal objects recovered from the wreck site were largely mass-produced utilitarian trade goods, several unique, one-of-a-kind artifacts were found at the site, including a small souvenir cordial glass bearing the name of a German mountaintop restaurant, a rare child's redware tea set, and several walking cane handles with a distinctive motif. Each object provides a rare glimpse of the prevailing fashions, customs, necessities, and functional wares that inspired and shaped the U.S. consumer in the months following the end of the American Civil War.

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