Pirate Ship Whydah Teakettle

San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, CA

The pirate ship Whydah sank off the coast of Wellfleet, Cape Cod during a storm in April 26, 1717, less than two years after its launch from London, England in 1715. The vessel was originally launched as an English slave ship but in February, 1717 it was captured by Samuel Bellamy (better known as Black Sam Bellamy) and his crew of pirates. The ship was not only filled with sugar and indigo, but with chests of silver and gold, which Bellamy and his crew combined with their existing booty from earlier raids. In 1984, Barry Clifford discovered the “only verified pirate shipwreck” which contained significant parts of the ship in addition to a treasure trove of artifacts. The ship pieces and artifacts were excavated from under the sand, and many of these are on display in the traveling exhibit ‘Real Pirates’.

The iron teakettle is part of the exhibit and had become damaged during transit. We surveyed the teakettle and compared it to historical photos to produce a condition assessment, recommendations for treatment and a budgetary estimate for the conservation work.