Divers Find 400-Year-Old Silk Dress in Dutch Shipwreck

For those of you who don’t speak Dutch, here’s the deal: Divers in the Wadden Sea found a fancy 17th-century gown partially buried in the sand. The gown is astonishingly well-preserved, given the circumstances, and may be one of the most important artifacts ever brought up from the sea floor.

The dress was recovered off the Dutch island of Texel, which was, for a time, an important center of trade. Unfortunately for traders, Texel’s location also made it a prime site for shipwrecks. As Livius at The History Blog explains, “Ships anchored in the Texel roadstead, a sheltered area in the lee of the island, waiting for propitious winds, waiting out bad weather or taking on crew and cargo, only to be wrecked in sudden unexpected storms.”

Many of those wrecks have since been washed further out to sea, but some remain in the relative shallows surrounding the island. Divers generally avoid disturbing them, instead waiting for the ocean to reveal the rotting wrecks. Two years ago, the currents uncovered a historical (not literal) gold mine: the remains of a well appointed merchant vessel from the 1600s. The ship had shed a mysterious bundle, which the divers ferried back to the surface.

Once in open air, they opened the package and realized they’d found the contents of someone’s wardrobe, and that someone must have been pretty well off. There were silk knee socks and a jacket, as well as a silk bodice embroidered in silver and gold.

But the most impressive piece was a damask gown with a high collar and ruffled sleeves—the kind of thing noblewomen or royalty might wear around the house. For the gown, anyway, the shipwreck had been a blessing; on land, exposed to air and moths, it would be in much worse shape than it is today. Professor Emmy de Groot of the University of Amsterdam called it “the Night Watch of the costume world.”

The wreck site also disgorged a variety of fancy-people artifacts, including pomander balls, a silver vessel, Italian pottery, spices, and leather-bound books. One of those books bears the coat of arms of King Charles I, which suggests that the ship’s passengers may have belonged to the royal house of Stuart.

The gown and other finds from the shipwreck are currently on display at Texel’s delightful Kaap Skil Maritime and Beachcombers’ Museum, and will return there permanently after they’re examined and treated by conservators.

Images from YouTube // Museum Kaap Skil Oudeschild, Texel

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Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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Design
A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”

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