The Hand and Arm That Once Belonged to Bowling Green’s King George III Statue Is Going Up for Auction

Pulling Down the Statue of King George III, N.Y.C. by Johannes Adam Simon Oertel circa 1859.
Pulling Down the Statue of King George III, N.Y.C. by Johannes Adam Simon Oertel circa 1859.
Johannes Adam Simon Oertel, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

More than 200 years before Charging Bull landed in Bowling Green, the New York City park was home to a different kind of symbolic bully: a statue of King George III. reports that just five days after Americans declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776, an assortment of 40 enthusiastic soldiers and sailors toppled the 2-ton lead likeness of George III, melted it down, and used it to make more than 42,000 bullets for the imminent war. That way, the revolutionaries could fire bits of the king right at their enemies from across the pond.

Though most of King George III and his noble steed were indeed melted for musket balls, the clever plot was partially foiled by loyalist Job Burlock and his fellow Tories. When the oxcart bearing the shattered statue to a Litchfield, Connecticut, foundry stopped overnight in the town of Wilton, Burlock’s group stole several pieces and buried them in Wilton.

According to the Journal of the American Revolution, some of the artifacts have been unearthed, including parts of the horse’s saddle, foreleg, and tail, and fragments of the king’s sash and cloak. The New-York Historical Society, the Wilton Historical Society, the Museum of Connecticut History, and the Museum of the American Revolution are all owners of one or more pieces.

In 1991, a Wilton resident dug from their garden the most recent piece: a 21-inch lead hand and forearm, which X-ray fluorescence analysis revealed to match two other parts of the statue. Though it’s not technically proven that this amputated limb is definitely King George’s, all signs point to yes—the land where it was found was once owned by Job Burlock himself.

king george III bowling green statue hand
Skinner, Inc.

Now, Skinner, Inc. is auctioning off the artifact, which is expected to fetch between $15,000 and $25,000. According to the listing, you should expect “some damage to the lead from being dropped, buried, and planted in a garden for years.” All things considered, the remnant of King George III is in pretty good condition.

king george III bowling green statue hand
Skinner, Inc.

Melting down the statue for war missiles was just one creative way American revolutionaries defied King George III—read about how they protested his Stamp Act here.


A WWII Navy Submarine, Lost for 75 Years, Has Been Discovered Off the Coast of Japan

MR1805/iStock via Getty Images
MR1805/iStock via Getty Images

The U.S. Navy lost 52 submarines during World War II, many of which are still missing today. But as The New York Times reports, the wreck of the U.S.S. Grayback—a submarine that disappeared along with its 80-person crew in 1944—has been found off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.

On January 28, 1944, the Grayback departed from Pearl Harbor for its 10th combat patrol. It missed its scheduled return date that spring, and after weeks of failing to locate the vessel, the Navy declared it was likely lost.

Immediately following World War II, the U.S. military studied Japanese war records in search of clues that might lead them to their missing ships. One recording clearly states the Grayback was brought down by a bomb dropped by an Japanese aircraft, and it even gives the longitude and latitude of the attack. But due to a poor translation of the audio, the Navy went looking for the sub 100 miles away from its actual resting place.

Seventy-five years later, the submarine's coordinates were finally uncovered in old Imperial Japanese Navy files.

A Japanese researcher named Yutaka Iwasaki noticed this error while looking at the World War II records of the Imperial Japanese Navy base at Sasebo. He was asked to review the files for the Lost 52 Project, an organization dedicated to finding lost World War II submarines. Using the newly uncovered information and an autonomous underwater vehicle, the team was able to locate the vessel at the bottom of the East China Sea near Okinawa.

Lost 52 doesn't hunt for submarine wrecks with plans to recover them. Rather, the goal of the project is "documenting and preserving the story of the Lost 52 WWII Submarines, leaving a foundation of knowledge for future generations." In the case of the Grayback, the site where it settled on the seafloor will be protected from any human interference.

[h/t The New York Times]

Swedish Divers Just Discovered Two Shipwrecks That Might Be Related to the Famous Vasa Warship

The Vasa shipwreck displayed in Sweden's Vasa Museum.
The Vasa shipwreck displayed in Sweden's Vasa Museum.
Christian Lundh, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

In 1625, King Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden commissioned shipbuilders to create the most beautiful, lethal flagship that ever existed, as a symbol of Sweden’s naval strength. Three years later, crowds gathered to watch the Vasa, named after Sweden’s royal house, set sail for the first time. But less than a mile into its maiden voyage, the poorly and hastily constructed warship sunk to the bottom of the Baltic Sea, where it remained until 1961 when it was salvaged and later transported to the Vasa Museum.

Now, the Guardian reports Swedish maritime archaeologists from Vrak—Museum of Wrecks have located two shipwrecks in the Swedish archipelago outside of Vaxholm that could be linked to the Vasa. This is because the shipwright responsible for the Vasa built three other ships, the Äpplet, the Kronan, and the Scepter (though, unlike their ill-fated sibling, they actually made it into battle).

“It was like swimming around the Vasa ship,” maritime archaeologist Jim Hansson said in a museum press release. They believe the first wreck they discovered may be the Äpplet, and the second wreck could be either the Kronan or the Scepter.

“We think that some of them were sunk in the area,” Patrik Hoglund, another Vrak archaeologist, told the Guardian. But these ships didn’t capsize because of shoddy engineering or even an enemy attack. Instead, experts believe the Swedish navy intentionally sunk them after they were decommissioned, so their wrecks would function as surprise spike strips to damage approaching enemy ships.

The divers brought back wood samples from the wrecks to send to a laboratory for testing. Once they know when and where the timber came from, they can cross-reference the data with Swedish archives to find out if it matches information from the Vasa.

Even if the warships do turn out to be the Vasa’s long-lost siblings, it’s unlikely that they’ll be salvaged and displayed alongside it, since the Baltic Sea’s brackish waters actually preserve them much better than a museum could.

Sweden isn’t the only nation that boasts a beautiful shipwreck or two—here are 10 other shipwrecks around the world that you can visit.

[h/t The Guardian]