A gold pocket watch has been found in the wreckage of the Pulaski steam boat off the coast of North Carolina.
The watch was found 200 feet away from the Pulaski site and is believed to have belonged to one of the rich passengers travelling on the ship which sank in 1838 after an explosion on board.
The pocket piece, which would have been seen as a status symbol among the wealthiest people in the 1800s, was found with its hands still intact.
Speaking to the Charlotte Observer, Keith Webb, head of Blue Water Ventures International in charge of the exploration, said: “To me, that thing is priceless. It establishes and verifies the time the ship went down. How can you put a price on that kind of discovery?”
He added: “We’ve already been contacted by collectors who have shown an interest.”
The steam powered boat was carrying 200 passengers from Savannah to Baltimore when its boilers exploded and sent the ship plummeting into the ocean. Around 128 people perished when the vessel sank as a result of the blast.
The explorers found the watch showing the time 11.05, which is just five minutes after many eye witness accounts reported the explosion, thus validating their stories.
Max Spieger of Certified Collectables Group, the company handling preservation of the Pulaski artifacts, told the Charlotte Observer: “It’s very unusual to see an artifact with that sort of impression of a historic moment, when a ship sank. Think about how fragile the watch’s hands are, yet they survived in that exact position. It’s one of the most exciting finds we’ve handled, and we’ve done a half dozen shipwrecks.”