Hawaiian King's treasures lost in shipwreck 191 years ago
- On 10/04/2015
- In Museum News
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A museum in Hawaii is preparing to open a treasure-trove of artifacts from the shipwreck of a royal yacht sunk off the coast of Kauai 191 years ago.
Richard Rogers, a Hawaii shipwreck chaser, worked with scientists from the Smithsonian Institution to dredge up the findings from the ship owned by King Kamehameha II, aka Liholiho, the second king of Hawaii.
'We found gold, silver, Hawaiian poi pounders, gemstones, a boat whistle, knives, forks, mica, things from all over the world, high- and low-end European stuff. Every bit of it is royal treasure,' Rogers said.
Rogers volunteered his time aboard his research vessel, the Pilialoha, over a five year period in four-week intervals from 1995 to 2001 to pull up the treasures.
'It's all pickled and nice and ready to be displayed,' Rogers said. 'There are over a thousand artifacts. We did our homework and this find is invaluable because it all belonged to the king. It is a fabulous window into the 1820s.'
Rogers said the king's belongings were buried in 10 feet of water and 10 feet of sand. His favorite discovery was a trumpet shell.
'I found it under a bunch of sand and carried it onto the deck. This was in 1999. I blew it and it made the most beautiful sound going out over Hanalei Bay,' Rogers recalled. 'I thought about how it hadn't been blown in over 170 years.'
Kamehameha II purchased the yacht from George Crowninshield II, who named it 'Cleopatra's Barge' in 1816. According to historian and Kauai Museum volunteer Zenon Wong, it cost $50,000 to build the 192 ton yacht. Rogers said it was the first luxury ocean-going yacht built in the United States.