Wood artifact may be from original Boston Tea Party chest

Wednesday, November 17th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) -- A piece of gold-coated wood plucked from the bottom of Boston Harbor may have come from a tea chest demolished
by angry Colonists during the Boston Tea Party, its finder believes. Barry Clifford, credited with locating the pirate ship Whydah in 1983, retrieved the 18-inch fragment with the help of divers last month at the Boston Harbor spot where tea-carrying vessels were
pillaged Dec. 16, 1773, in a tax protest.

Clifford's piece has yet to be positively identified and some historians are doubtful it ever will. But he suspects he has the real thing.
"I'm not saying this is definitely a tea chest, but it's definitely suspicious," he said Tuesday. "If you were going to find a tea chest, this is exactly where you would expect to find one."

The piece was found in some 15 feet of water where Griffin's Wharf -- the Colonial name for the site -- once stood. Clifford is keeping the piece in a vat of deionized water to prevent corrosion. The wood also matches a tea chest now in the Washington headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution that
reportedly washed up on a beach after the Tea Party, Clifford said. Both have a beveled edge, lacquered paint and gold-leaf details.

Don Knuuttila, general manager of the Boston Tea Party Museum, said the discovery would be significant if proven true. "This would be a wonderful find if it is authenticated and it
is found to be a part of the Boston Tea Party because it was really the spark that ignited the entire Revolution," he said.