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Painting of Cleopatra's Barge in August 1818 by Marblehead, Massachusetts, artist George Ropes.

Before covering them back up, a diver records the hull timbers wedged beneath the reef edge at the end of the 1996 excavations.

Ceramics from Cleopatra's Barge
mid-1800s

From the wreck of the first U.S.-built deepwater yacht
This blue-and-white china bowl most likely dates from the 1857 salvage of the wreck of Cleopatra's Barge, a hermaphrodite brig that served as the Royal Hawaiian yacht of King Kamehameha II. The 192-ton yacht was built and fitted out in Salem, MA, in 1816, at a total cost of about $100,000, 10 times more than the price of a conventional deepwater merchant vessel. In 1820, the owner sold it to King Kamehameha, who renamed it Ha 'aheo o Hawaii, or Pride of Hawaii. Kamehameha used it as his royal yacht. Four years later, during a cruise around the island of Kauai, the vessel grounded on a reef in Hanalei Bay, and sank. In 1995, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History conducted a survey (search and assessment) and began a multi-year excavation.

Notes
NMAH-sponsored excavations have been conducted in 1995-98 and 2000. NMAH's curator of maritime history conducted archival research on the ship in 1999.
China bowl was made for the domestic Chinese market rather than for export.
Made by Robert Stephenson & Co., Newcastle, England
Cleopatra's Barge measured 100' on deck, 23' in beam, 11-1/2' in depth of hold.
Web display only

Learn more!
· Hermaphrodite Brig
· "Hanalei Redux" by Paul Johnston, "Increase and Diffusion," a Smithsonian Web Magazine, March 1997
· "Do They Really Pay You to Do That?" by Paul Johnston, "Increase and Diffusion," a Smithsonian Web Magazine, September 1996
· "Sieur de La Salle's fateful landfall" by David Roberts, "Smithsonian" magazine, April 1997

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