July 2020 Treasure of the Month

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Our featured treasure for July is a small but extremely deadly item used by the Spanish and often found on 1715 Fleet wreck sites. Used in close combat, the split shot was an early form of anti-personnel projectile. Made of lead, the split shot looks like a musket ball that has been cut in half and wired together, as seen in the picture above. The difference is that the effect of the split shot is far more devastating than a regular musket ball. When fired from a musket the two halves would separate and then spin rapidly and like a buzz saw cut deep into the unfortunate recipient.

Another fully intact split shot with broken wire.

Another feature of the spilt shot, which distinguishes it from a normal singular musket ball, is the weight. An individual lead musket ball weighs an average of 33 grams. The average split shot has a combined weight well over 50 grams, not including the wire that joins the two pieces together.

Close up of split shot showing flat side.

Close up of split shot showing round side.

Our Treasure of the Month is special in that it is completely intact, meaning that the wire that once held the two halves together is still in place. It was recovered at the Cabin Wreck site by Lou Ullian of the Real Eight Company in 1964.

Split shot with both sides together.

Split shot next to typical musket ball. Notice the difference in size and caliper.

For more information regarding weaponry of the Spanish see Noel Wells, Small Arms of the Spanish Treasure Fleets, (Dallas: Rock Bottom Publications, 2006).

Small group of musket balls, split shot and smaller caliper projectiles.

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Meredith Hoppe

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