Shipwreck kitsch: A lamp

Kitsch might be too strong of a word, but it’ll have to do for this occasional series on the random “stuff” people make from shipwrecks. This lamp base stands approximately 12″ high and is made of wood fragments from the steamer Pewabic, which sank in Lake Huron in 1865 with great loss of life (for more on the Pewabic see this).

The Pewabic came to rest in 180′ of water and was extensively salvaged in 1917 and 1974 for its valuable cargo of copper ingots. Many fragments of the wreck, however, made their way up from the bottom and into the local community where they were transformed into keepsakes and memorials. The brass plate on the lamp’s base reads: “STEAMER PEWABIC SUNK IN LAKE HURON AUGUST 9, 1865 WITH THE LOSS OF 125 LIVES AND STILL RESTS ON THE BOTTOM.” Stay tuned for a more detailed description of the Pewabic salvage in the near future (in the meantime look here).

Many thanks to Wayne Lusardi, underwater archaeologist for the State of Michigan and wearer of many hats at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, for showing me this and other “shipwreck kitsch” held at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Michigan.



Filed under Shipwreck Kitsch

4 responses to “Shipwreck kitsch: A lamp

  1. Pingback: Shipwreck Kitsch: A Bass Guitar | Ships on the Shore

  2. Robert Campbell

    I have a cane inscribed: “Presented to The Muser Hamilton Ont. from C. B. Gilbert Alpena Mich Wood & copper from Pewabic wrecked Aug 9, 1865”.

    The Muser was Richard Butler, a pioneer newspaper man in both Hamilton, Ont., and the U.S. He was also the U.S. vice-consul at Hamilton, and author of a weekly newspaper article for the “Hamilton Spectator”.
    C. B Gilbert was his old friend who lived in Hamilton at one time.

    It was given to my grandmother Rachel O’Grady Campbell by Mrs. Butler at her husband Richard Butler’s funeral in 1925.

    It is 34-inches tall, 1-inch diameter with 5-inch handle; looks hand made; in very good condition.

    Where should it go? Does any one want it?

    Bob Campbell

    • Jamin Wells

      Hi Bob,

      Thank you for sharing–sounds like you have quite the piece. There is a similar cane on display at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) in Alpena, Michigan. It too was made from wood (and copper on the tip of the cane and handle) salvaged from the Pewabic. Apparently, many items were made from Pewabic remains–from lamps and canes to chessboards and billy clubs. What makes your cane particularly interesting is its story and associations.

      I suggest contacting Wayne Lusardi, curator and archaeologist at TBNMS, @ It is my understanding that a significant part of the Sanctuary’s artifact collection was donated. I suspect they would be very interested in your Pewabic cane.

      Let me know how it goes! And you can always reach me @ Thanks for the post!

  3. Pingback: Shipwreck kitsch: A chessboard | Ships on the Shore

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