If such an artifact exists for Oak Island, then the container(s) may be able to be evaluated and pinned to a time period. This is what I have been able to turn up so far.
The earliest mention of mercury flasks on Oak Island, that I was able to find, was found in author D'Arcy O'Connor's book, "The Big Dig: The $10 Million Search for Oak Island's Legendary Treasure". Published Oct 18th 1988.
In following up on this mention in his book, I found a statement by O'Connor on Jo Atherton's Oak Island Treasure forum, in which he said:
"What was found, according to correspondence between Gilbert Hedden and Burrell Ruth (and later confirmed to me by Hedden and Ruth's widows, as well as by Amos Nauss, Hedden's on-site foreman), were thousands of shards of broken pottery flasks in a shallow dump in Joudrey's Cove (north side of the island) in the summer of 1937. Some of the broken flasks contained traces of a liquid silver residue which Hedden had analyzed in Halifax, and which was found to be mercury. This was discovered at the time when Hedden had his crew scouring the island for any markers that might tie into the famous Mar Del map. And no, neither the mercury nor the flasks were (or could be) carbon dated, as neither is an organic substance.
Those are the only first-hand accounts of the presence of mercury on the island that I have ever come across. "
- D'Arcy O'Connor Sun Apr 08, 2007 5:36 pm
So it sounds as if O'Connor found some primary source papers that document this find. We have a substantial library of Hedden papers that we have either purchased or gathered from archival sources, but none of those mention the discovery of mercury on Oak Island. I would love to be able to read those papers in D'Arcy O'Connor's collection. It sounds as if he went to great effort to verify the paperwork by talking with as many of the people closely involved with Hedden efforts as he could.
So is this the only credible mention of mercury flasks being discovered on this treasure island? Recently we related to you part of the contents of a white paper written by Dr. Mark Schmalz, in which further work in enhancing underwater photos of the 10X Cavity. Well that report also purposed work to verify the existence of the mercury flasks as well. Here is an excerpt:
So in the Schmalz paper (1) we find corroboration of D'Arcy O'Connor's research. However O'Connor's book was published in 1988, and the Schmalz paper was written in 1995, so O'Connor's book may have been the sole source of this information for the Triton personnel, who Schmalz states made him aware of this knowledge.
In reviewing the reference section of the Schmalz paper we find the following:
(10) O'Connor, D'Arcy. The Big Dig, New York: Ballantine (1988)
(11) Telephone conversation with D. Blankenship, Triton Alliance Ltd (1994)
(32) Telephone conversations with D. Tobias, Triton Alliance Ltd. (1993-95)
(39) Personal correspondence with D, Tobias, Triton Alliance Ltd. (1994)
I suspect that O'Connor's book and the research behind it stand as the sole primary source stating that mercury flasks were found on Oak Island. Gilbert Hedden conducted one of the most thorough and organized searches of the island to date, so if he wrote that they found these flasks with mercury residue in them in a shallow dump near Joudrey's Cove, I would be inclined to accept it as fact.
In season three of the History Channel's Curse of Oak Island television series, Rick Lagina facilitated a historical reconciliation between Fred Nolan and the Blankenships, who for decades were competing treasure hunters often at odds with each other. With the new collaboration between these parties the search for this shallow dump of mercury flasks should become a priority for the new alliance this summer, seeing as its location near Joudrey's Cove is more than likely on Fred Nolan's land. Incidentally, the "stone paved road" is said to run from Joudrey's Cove to the Pit area. It is interesting that the shallow dump is said to be in the same area. Relocating this dump would be a major find. Here's hoping!
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
1. Schmalz, Mark. Ritter, Gerhard. Image Enhancement and Data Analysis in Support of Archaeological Field Studies. Extended White Paper. 1995.
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