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Panama Railroad Baggage Tag #613, S.S. Central America Treasure [153311]

Currency:USD Category:Artifacts / Shipwreck Artifacts Start Price:500.00 USD Estimated At:1,000.00 - 0.00 USD
Panama Railroad Baggage Tag #613, S.S. Central America Treasure [153311]
SOLD
4,000.00USD+ (800.00) buyer's premium + applicable fees & taxes.
This item SOLD at 2022 Dec 03 @ 11:22UTC-8 : PST/AKDT
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Panama Railroad brass baggage tag #613 recovered with a bundle of keys from the purser's safe found in the port-side debris field of the S.S. Central America shipwreck. Extremely rare! It is 1.75 x 1.6 inches and in fine condition -- the ONLY Panama Railroad brass tag recovered! It is extremely important in that it represents the transfer of the entire Ship of Gold treasure, cargo, and passengers from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Panama Railroad, which itself had only been completed in 1855. It cannot be positively known why the purser would have kept this Panama Railroad tag along with his keys in the safe, but its presence there is unusual, and it is the only such tag recovered from anywhere on the shipwreck. Edward Hull had been a purser on the Panama Route since its inception (Bowers p950). Hull was probably the purser on the S.S. George Law (later renamed the S.S. Central America) since early in the steamer's years of service, and he was probably the purser in February of 1855. On February 5, the S.S. George Law left New York on its 16th voyage to Panama, this time carrying a number of celebrants to mark the completion and opening of the Panama Railroad, finished and opened for traffic just 9 days earlier. Purser Edward Hull was a part of this important business, and this tag well may have held some meaning for him. I (BE) think it is entirely possible that Purser Hull kept this tag as a memento of that event, which was of enormous importance on the route where he made his living and held a position of significant esteem. The opening of the Panama Railroad ushered in a new era of convenience in traveling to and from California and New York. Men in California sent for their wives and families to come, confident that most of the hardships due to the overland journey across the isthmus were now in the past. Certainly, the railroad made transport of 2-ton gold shipments from San Francisco to New York physically much easier.
For those of you wise enough to spot this baggage tag, I didn't have time to put in the whole story on the Panama RR. In the February sale is a treasure box for Alsop & Co. - and there, you will find a wonderful new story of the formation of the Panama RR, and the Pacific Mail SS - all in a manner you've never read before. Trust me....-fh

Date: 1857
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Provenance: SS Central America Collection