Gold and Silver Bars
Gold and Silver Bars

Gold Bars

Alan Riebe, in his book War Treasures I (Seven Seas Publishing, 2000), at Page 71, describes a clandestine shipment of gold that was found aboard the 7,036-ton British freighter Empire Manor:

Any item shipped in kegs during the First or Second War World [sic, should be World War] should be regarded with suspicion. One case in evidence is the Empire Manor sunk by enemy action in 1944 which carried wooden kegs labeled "rusty nails."1
Later when discovered by English salvors in the 1950's, the kegs actually contained gold bars belonging to the Bank of England.

At Page 62, Riebe describes another loss, that of the 2,921-ton Swedish steamship Hilonian which was torpedoed in the Mediterranean near Albenga, about 30 miles from Genoa, Italy on May 16, 1917; he states:

In addition, 135 wooden casks, said to contain scrap copper, were also lost. These are viewed with suspicion as cargo packed in casks, especially if the vessel was outbound from New York City as the Hilonian was, could contain a treasure shipment.

Could the U.S. Government have shipped gold bars - or cash funds - with its "provisions" aboard RMS Republic?

526 hlf. bbls. Smoked ham. 47449 lbs. 84160 lbs.
. . .    

Memorandum for the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, January 25, 1909, AND
Memorandum Bill of Lading 2276, January 22, 1909, NARA RG 143, File 105669.

An anomaly exists in the U.S. Government's claim for loss of its US Navy provisions shipped aboard RMS Republic. According to US Government records, as a part of its shipment, the Government shipped 526 half-barrels of smoked ham, for a Total Net shipment of 47,449 pounds of smoked ham, but at a stated Gross Weight for the smoked ham shipment of 84,160 pounds. See: The U.S. Government's Cargoes - An Accounting., supra. The difference between the Unit Net Weight and Unit Gross Weight for the 160 pound half-barrels of smoked ham suggests that an empty 69.29 pound half-barrel - a single 70 pound half-barrel - would be used to ship just 90 pounds of smoked ham contents, when 13.72 pound barrels and crates were used to ship 140 pounds of potatoes, and 16 pound boxes (gold coin) and kegs (gold bars) were used to ship 144 pounds of gold. (A keg of gold bars also weighed, coincidentally(?), 160 pounds.)

Would the U.S. Government use a 70 pound half-barrel to ship 90 pounds of smoked ham? Is it possible that this anomaly is attributable, entirely, to a secret gold bar and/or funds shipment?

What else could be contained within the barrels, with the ham, to increase their gross weight?

Additional research identifies the Navy's "Specifications for canvas-covered hams" and reveals one other item included with the ham - salt.

... The hams so clothed [in canvas] will be packed in salt, in air-tight half-barrels, containing about 90 pounds of ham and about 40 pounds of hard, dry salt.

Memoranda for the Information and Guidance of Commandants
and Heads of Departments of Navy Yards and Stations
Commanding Officers of Ships, Engineering, Navigating, Pay Officers, Etc.
Congressional Information Series ("CIS"), N.2007-1.7, No. 7, Sept. 2, 1902

The net contents of each half-barrel is, now, 90 pounds of ham plus 40 pounds of salt, 130 pounds net contents. Could a half-barrel weigh, empty, 30 pounds?

If we assume that an empty half-barrel weighed 16 pounds, approximately the same weight as the empty barrel or keg used in the shipment of potatoes and gold, the total weight of 526 half-barrels, empty, would be 8,416 pounds.

If we deduct the weight of the containers from the total gross weight, we obtain the net weight of the contents. The U.S. Government has provided us with the net weight of the smoked ham and, with research, salt.

With each 90 pounds of smoked ham accompanied by 40 pounds of salt, 47,449 net weight of smoked ham would be accompanied by 21,088 pounds of salt, for a total net weight of half-barrel contents of 68,537 pounds smoked ham with salt.

Subtracting the presumed weight of the half-barrels from the total gross half-barrel shipment of 84,160 pounds, we are left with the total net weight of the half-barrels' contents, 75,744 pounds.

But, our calculation of the total net weight of the half-barrels' contents - ham and salt - is only 68,537 pounds. Could the difference of 7,207 pounds be a secret shipment of gold, or funds?


If this shipment is presumed to be gold, divide the 7,207 pound shipment by 144 pounds (the amount of gold held in each keg), and we have a potential of 50 kegs of gold bars. With each keg containing approximately $48,000 in gold (1909 value)2, $2,400,000 would be the potential gold bar shipment, with a current gold value (at $625 per oz) at about $75,000,000. [Most Recent Quotes from]


A $2.4 million gold bar shipment is also consistent with an early rumor, that the Republic was a "$2,000,000 bullion wreck." See The Rumor, infra.

Also, 7,200 pounds of gold, plus 21,088 pounds of salt, equals 14.15 tons. When this is added to the U.S. Government's entire 406.13 net weight shipment of provisions to the fleet, we then have a total of 420.28 tons, or the amount - 421 tons - reported by the Journal Commerce as the U.S. Government's net weight cargo loss aboard the Republic. . . . 3

The US Government shipment may include Navy funds for the Atlantic Fleet then at Gibraltar (See Other Cargos).

And/or the U.S. Government may have purchased, for its own account, a holding in 1909 4-1/2% Russian Bonds, in the same manner that the portfolios of governments today frequently include the securities of other governments. We have shown in our 1904-1914 gold export-import study that several other large unreported gold exports from the US had taken place during this period. Although unusual, these "unreported exports" were not uncommon, and had shown up as imports in the French data. These large and unreported gold exports may have been inter-governmental transactions, unlike the January 12, 1909 $3,000,000 engagement that had taken place in the foreign exchange market and which does appear as an export (but not an import). Although there were no gold bars available in New York to the Bankers (hence their $3 million gold eagle shipment), the U.S. Government would have been under no such restriction.

Silver Bars

Several treasure writers have indicated that the REPUBLIC, in addition to her gold cargo, carried a consignment of silver ingots.

[Immediately following the collision] ... in the hold, the conditions were most serious and grave, for within a few minutes after the collision the engine room was flooded to the top of the cylinders. It was obvious from the damage that the REPUBLIC was in great danger, and an ominous peril seemed to permeate the air throughout the entire vessel. There was a hazard, too, that at any moment the huge boilers might suddenly explode. But in spite of the terrific risk, the engine-room crew to a man continued to stick to their posts, closing the steel bulkhead doors and opening the steam valves, each man up to his neck in the incoming water. On the deck above, efforts were being made for the safety of the passengers, together with that of the huge consignment of gold and silver which the vessel carried. ...

And, finally, that of the gold and silver consignment which the REPUBLIC carried down when she made her final plunge to the bottom, sinking in forty fathoms of water in latitude 40°25'30" North, longitude 60°40' West, approximately twenty miles southwest of Nantucket South Shoals Lightship, off the Massachusetts coast.

Only one known attempt [in 1919 or 1929?4] has ever been made to bring this huge fortune in golden eagles and silver ingots, estimated to close to $3,000,000, to the surface. It failed because of the extreme depth and the inadequate salvage equipment. However, this golden cache still rests in its watery tomb...waiting...[sic]

"Jack Binns - Wireless Hero of the Republic," by
[Coast Guard] Lieut. Harry E. Rieseberg, Seaports
and the Shipping World, June 1969,
page 19 - 22 and 25

... and other reports. A silver ingot cargo aboard the REPUBLIC may have some basis in fact. Although no domestic silver ingots were reported in U. S. Customs reports as being shipped to France from January 8th through January 27th, exports to England did occur purportedly aboard the: St. Louis, departure January 9, 1909, with $200,482 to "London"; Campania, departure January 13, 1909, with $385,775 to "London"; Celtic, departure January 16, 1909, with $79,000 to "London"; and the Philadelphia, departure January 16, 1909, with $343,470 to "London."5 The January 23, 1909, Export Report includes silver ingot shipments to London aboard the Teutonic (departure January 20, 1909) $513,840, and Minnehaha (departure January 23, 1909) $459,740.6 A possibility exists that a consignment of silver bars was placed aboard the REPUBLIC for transshipment to London or direct delivery to English banking interests or warships at Gibraltar. The range of value for a possible "London" silver ingot shipment would be between $1,063,000 and $6,917,000 at a current market price of approximately $7 per troy ounce.

Silver ingots, from Bureau of Statistics records, were also being transshipped from Mexico, through New York, to France during the period under study and may have been shipped aboard the REPUBLIC.

Ward Line vessels carrying silver from Mexico arrived in New York weekly on Saturdays. The Ward Liner ESPERANZA departed Vera Cruz on January 8th and arrived in New York on January 16th. The next vessel from Mexico, the MERIDA7, would arrive January 23rd, after the REPUBLIC's departure. The amount of silver transhipped through New York to France during all of January, 1909, was $158,5378 at approximately $0.52 per troy ounce, or approximately 304,879 troy ounces of silver.


The current market, maximum value for possible on-board French silver, at $12.00 per troy ounce, would be $3,658,548. [Most Recent Quotes from]


1Alan Riebe, in his book War Treasure II (Seven Seas Publishing, 2002), at Page 172, describes the Empire Manor's cargo: [T]he manifest also listed "kegs of abrasive grain" that was indeed the gold, packed in ten wooden kegs.
2See our analysis and specifically Footnote #2 at: Operations of the Assay Office and Sub Treasury.
3Journal of Commerce, January 26, 09, 1:2. See also: The U.S. Government's Cargoes - An Accounting.
4"To date, only one attempt has been made to salvage this vast fortune and that was in 1919, when, because of the vessel's depth - 228 feet - the effort was unsuccessful." Lt. Harry E. Rieseberg, TREASURE!, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1957, p. 20. And, "Only one known attempt has been made to bring this cargo to the surface, in 1919. It failed because of the depth and the inadequate salvage equipment." Lieut. Harry E. Rieseberg and A. A. Mikalow, Fell's Guide to Sunken Treasure Ships of the World, Federick Fell Inc., N. Y., 1965, p. 123.
Rieseberg's depth is incorrect. However, Rieseberg may have been writing not about a 1919 attempt, but about a reported 1929 salvage attempt. Teddy Remick, in the January, 1976, issue of Lost Treasure Magazine, at Page 39, and with the correct depth, wrote:
"For almost twenty years, the wreck of the Republic remained undisturbed. Then a salvage crew from England located the wreck and began operations to recover the $3,000,000 in golden eagles. At a depth of 240 feet, it was a monumental task. Divers reported that the ship lay on her side.[? See comment below.] Slowly, the crew began to burn through the hull to get into the companionway that led to her safe. Once through her hull, they found the companionway cluttered with a tangle of steel girders and plates blocking their path. The depth the divers had to work in, the undependable weather, and the huge sharks infesting the water eventually forced the salvage crew to give up and return to England.
"The golden eagles still lie awaiting a crew with the technique and the courage to break through to the treasure. The task will be perilous and expensive, but the reward will be $3,000,000 in ten dollar gold pieces worth considerably more today than they were 67 years ago."
Incidentally, although the wreck actually lies upright with a slight starboard list, certain portside parts of the hull have collapsed inboard, folding over collapsed decks, giving the appearance that the ship is lying on her starboard side!
5Journal of Commerce, January 18, 09, 2:3. Schedule of departure dates from NY Herald, Jan. 13, 09, 14:1.
6Journal of Commerce, January 25, 09, 2:2
7 The Merida is another well-known name in the treasure-salvage business. Ward Line's 6,207 ton passenger-freighter SS Merida, on May 12, 1911, enroute from Vera Cruz and Havana to New York, was carrying former aristocrats and other refugees escaping the Mexican Revolution of 1910. In a heavy fog, she was rammed amidships by the Admiral Farragut which itself became helplessly disabled. The wireless distress call was sent out and the steamship Hamilton responded. The Hamilton took on board all persons from both distressed vessels before the Merida sank in 210 feet of water approximately 80 miles east / northeast of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The rumor of the Merida's treasure goes something like this: there was not enough time to save the $6 million worth of gold and silver from the strong room, and the Maximilian jewels from the purser's safe. There are accounts of salvors working this wreck in 1932 and in the 1980s, but without success.
8Bureau of Statistics, Foreign Commerce of the United States, January, 1909, pg 1295.