What is Salvage?

Legal Definition
Maritime law. This term originally meant the thing or goods saved from shipwreck or other loss; and in that sense it is generally to be understood in our old books. But it is at present more frequently understood to mean the compensation made to those by whose means the ship or goods have been saved from the effects of shipwreck, fire, pirates, enemies, or any other loss or misfortune. 1 Cranch, 1.

2. This compensation, which is now usually made in money, was, before the use of money became general, made by a delivery of part of the effects saved. Marsh. Ins. B. 1, c. 12, s. 8; Pet. Adm. Dec. 425; 2 Taunt. 302; 3 B. & P. 612; 4 M. & S. 159; 1 Cranch, 1; 2 Cranch, 240; Cranch, 221; 3 Dall. 188; 4 Wheat. 98 9 Cranch, 244; 3 Wheat. 91; 1 Day, 193 1 Johns. R. 165; 4 Cranch, 347; Com. Dig. Salvage; 3 Kent, Com. 196. Vide Salvors.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
In maritime law. A compensation allowed to persons by whose assistance a ship or its cargo has been saved, in whole or in part, from impending danger or recovered from actual loss, in cases of shipwreck, derelict or recapture. 3 Kent, Comm. 245. Cope v. Valletta Dry-Dock Co.., 119 U. S. 625, 7 Sup. Ct. 336, 30 L. Ed. 501; The Rita, 62 Fed. 763, 10 C. C. A. 629; The Lyman M. Law (D. Ct) 122 FCd. 822; The Blackwall, 10 Wall. 11, 19 In Ed. 870; The Spokane (D. C.) 67 Fed. 256. In the older books of the law, (and sometimes in modern writings,) the term is also used to denote the goods or property saved.
See also
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The compensation allowed to persons by whose voluntary assistance a ship at sea or her cargo or both have been saved in whole or in part from impending sea peril, or in recovering such property from actual peril or loss. See 101 U. S. 384, 25 L. Ed. 982.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary