The excavation of the SS Republic produced some 8,000 glass and stoneware bottles including over 1,500 examples which represented food bottles, the third largest category recovered from the site (18.0% of the total). Included are a variety of pickled goods, preserved fruit, and sauces, some with their original contents still intact yet now contaminated with sea water and ocean deposits.
Of the many British food products competing with American goods in the mid-19th century, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce is perhaps best known. Launched commercially in 1838, within a few years it was imported into the United States by John Duncan's Sons, New York. By 1849 it was consumed west of the Mississippi as thousands of gold seekers made their way to the California gold fields. This popular condiment soon found a receptive market in restaurants, hotel dining rooms and in the dining salons of passenger ships.
The large volume of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce bottles recovered from the wreck of the Republic in two different sizes, however, suggests they they were not intended for passenger consumption, but were being shipped as cargo. Of the nearly 300 bottles retrieved from the ocean floor, some 200 still retained their original glass-and-cork stoppers, such as the example featured here. All of the bottles are of British manufacture.
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce was not actually bottled in the United States until 1877, well after the wreck of the SS Republic, when John Duncan had his company initials "JDS" embossed on bases by Salem Glass Works. At this time, there was a marked changeover in the United States from British to American-produced Lea and Perrins bottles.