Copper Ingots from the shipwreck of the SS St. George.
 
This vessel, which sank with eleven hands, some 18 miles off Portreath, Cornwall, on November 26th 1882, was carrying, amongst other cargoes, 60 tons of copper ingots, as manufactured by the Cape Copper Co. Ltd., several of which were recovered in September of 2001 by Barry P.Gamble. 
The Ingots are marked with the letters ‘CCC’ and ‘BS’, which are explained as follows : 
CCC - The Cape Copper Company 
The Cape Copper Company operated the Briton Ferry Copper Works (originally opened c.1853) from 1880 until its closure circa. 1926. 
The company name was Cape Copper Mining Co. Ltd. until 1888, and Cape Copper Co. Ltd. thereafter.  Contemporary documents usually abbreviate the company name to ‘Cape Copper Company’ throughout the period of existence of the works.  The works, a medium sized concern by the standards of the date and place, was located at Red Jacket Pill, an inlet on the west bank of the River Neath, opposite and upstream of Briton Ferry which is on the east bank. Red Jacket Pill was little used by shipping by the time the Cape Copper Company took over the works.  The Tennant Canal connected the works to Swansea Docks, through which it undoubtedly imported its ore (or, by this date, mainly regulus, which is partly-smelted ore), and through which it would have exported its produce. Smelted copper usually formed only a small portion of a ships cargo – individual consignments were never large enough to fill a merchant ship.  (She was also carrying several hundred tons of coal.  BPG)  No body of records survive from Briton Ferry Copper Works.
One of the ingots, 
after being mechanically cleaned.
BS - Best Selected 
‘Best Selected’ had been the highest grade of refined copper for much of the nineteenth century but by this date it had been surpassed by electrolytically refined copper.  The ingots were cast by ladling into cast iron moulds: irregular laminations can usually be seen on their sides.  The shape of these ingots accords perfectly with examples of similar date produced by other firms.
Ingot as found,...showing coal fragments (black) embedded amongst calcareous concretion (yellow) and general oxidation due to immersion in seawater (blue/green).
By the date these ingots were produced, the Swansea region had, after a century of international pre-eminence in the field of copper smelting, begun a relative decline, although the tonnages of copper produced there would continue to grow until the early 1890s. Thereafter decline was swift, with the industry becoming virtually extinct by the mid 1920s.

I am indebted to Robert Protheroe Jones, Curator (Heavy Industry), Department of Industry, National Museums & Galleries of Wales, for the above information regarding provenance of the recovered ingots. 
Barry P. Gamble.  August 2002.
 
Barry, who has a long held interest in metal mining, and as a geologist worked for Cominco at Parys Mountain (c.1980), is currently offering for sale a number of the recovered copper ingots (£65 - £75 each).  If interested:
e-mail him on:  BarryPGamble@aol.com 
or write to him at:  25 Ashwood Close, Plympton, Plymouth, Devon, PL7 2FU.
This article originally appeared in the Welsh Mines Society Newsletter, No.47, October 2002, Item No.53