Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas on the CHARLES W. MORGAN, 1889

The G.W. Blunt White Library recently received a journal for the 1889-90 voyage of the CHARLES W. MORGAN out of San Francisco. There has been tremendous interest in this journal, because the keeper, Honorio A. Martin, the second mate, along with the crew of his boat, were left behind by the MORGAN after a Nantucket sleigh ride took them out of range of the ship. They eventually ended up on Sakhalin Island (as reported in the papers of the time), were initially arrested, then made their way to Hong Kong before eventually getting back to San Francisco a month after the MORGAN had returned.

However, the initial part of the voyage was uneventful, and a melancholy second mate Martin recorded the following on the 21st day out of San Francisco as they headed for the Japan and Okhotsk grounds:

"Wednesday, December 25th. Another Christmas is passed by. Still I am wandering on the high seas without a home or abiding place. I wonder how many more I have to pass at sea. Not many, I hope. I am almost tired of this sea life and as soon as possible I will leave it and try to make a living on shore. Today we finished overhauling forward."

Well, his holiday blues and his later brush with death did not dissuade him from doing at least one more voyage as his journal picks up again in 1891 aboard the bark TRITON leaving on a whaling voyage out of San Francisco.

The journal will be available for research purposes once it is cataloged.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A New Sailing Card

This picture of a sailing card showing a brig-rigged steamer under the heading of the STAR LINE is a recent purchase and is of particular interest to Mystic Seaport. The reason? Three of the vessels listed, the CONSTITUTION, the NEVADA and the WEYBOSSET, were built in Mystic in the mid-1860's. The CONSTITUTION was not only built at the George Greenman yard, her captain was also a Greenman. The AMERICA was a Connecticut vessel as well, built in Portland, CT.

This particular sailing card is the size of a normal postcard and was used, as were all sailing cards, as an advertisement to drum up business for particular ships or lines. Click on this sailing card link for more cards in the collection at Mystic Seaport.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eddystone Light

This image of the Eddystone Lighthouse from the sketchbook of Lieutenant (later Captain) George Tobin, R.N., was done in the year 1800. This was the third light to be built at Eddystone and was completed in 1759. When it began incurring damage from waves in the 1870's, it was dismantled, piece by piece, and erected on a piece of land called Plymouth Hoe as a monument to its ingenious creator, John Smeaton.

George Tobin's sketchbook will be on display in March as part of the exhibit on Treasures from the Collection of Mystic Seaport. Click on the word "sketchbook" to take you to the full digital version.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pie Anyone?

With the relentless advance of the seasons, and Fall creeping up on us, the thought of a good harvest of apples brings to mind the thought of pies. At least for me.....

Pies have always been a staple in the American diet, and pies were made with all sorts of fillings. However, many homemakers took a special interest in the decoration of their crusts and pie crimpers were made with that thought in mind. The trimming or decoration of dough for a pie made the crimper a very utilitarian object in the kitchen, and a whaleman with a little bit of time on his hands and some talent in the area of carving could produce some interesting crimpers.

The crimper pictured here is actually a very simple design for the most part. Many have handles that are exquisite in their piercings and framework. This single handled crimper looks more like a modern pizza cutter than anything else. However, according to Richard Malley in his book GRAVEN BY THE FISHERMEN THEMSELVES, he states, "What makes this piece the recessed edge of the cutting disk on which is carved reverse lettering in high relief. When used to cut dough, the crimper, with each full turn of the wheel, boldly prints along the edge the message "GOOD PIE WELL MADE."

Bon Appetit! (crimper accession number 1947.1605)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Morgan Coin Revisited

The Collections and Research Department had a visit from Carl Swebilius, who has been blogging about the restoration of the CHARLES W. MORGAN, and members of the Pawcatuck Valley Coin Club on June 22nd. Larry Erhard, Dennis Fortier, Bill Jacobik and Scott Rottinghaus examined the coins that were removed from under the MORGAN'S masts in 2008. While one, a 1997 silver dollar was in very good shape and unspectacular in its date, the other two were unknown entities, although a 1947 article in local papers reported that one of the coins was an 1841 penny. The second coin, while massively corroded, was determined to be an Eisenhower silver dollar dated between 1971 and 1978. The 1841 penny was neither a penny nor from 1841. With coin identification books and magnifiers in hand, the group made short work of the the identity.

The "penny" was, in fact, determined to be a 1908 Barber silver half dollar minted in Denver. The top image is what the front of the half dollar now looks like. The next image is what a Barber half dollar SHOULD look like. The third image is the reverse image of the front of the coin as photographed on the bottom of the mast in 1947 and the last image is the back of the coin as it now looks.

Traditions and ceremonies go back centuries where the building and launching of ships are concerned. From the barbaric sacrifice of humans, to the breaking of champagne bottles on the bow, the most interesting might be the installation,for luck, of a coin under a mast before it is stepped. Not only is the luck of the ship accounted for, but so is its history. Finding a 1908 coin under the mast tells us that work on that particular mast was done sometime after that date, giving us confirmation of events that are documented elsewhere.

Having local friends to help in the pursuit of historical fact is something that is greatly appreciated at Mystic Seaport.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yale, Mystic Seaport and a Mediterranean Connection

An archivist at the Beinecke Library at Yale recently discovered that an illustrated manuscript volume in their collection is a companion volume to one in ours. The volumes, entitled "Costumes of the Mediterranean", were the work of Edward C. Young, a young marine sergeant aboard Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry's sloop-of-war CONCORD in the Mediterranean from 1830 to 1832.

Click on this link to view the images of Mystic Seaport's volume. To see more information and link to Yale's volume, click here.

Used Book Sale!

Sat. June 25th from 11:00AM to 4:00PM

at the North End of the Campus

To benefit Mystic Seaport’s library

Mostly nautical books include:
* 700 Book Dutch Auction
(prices $10 11AM-1PM, $5 1PM-3PM, $2 3PM-4PM)
*100 Special Value Books $10 and up
*Over 100 $1 books, charts, etc.

tables of free items
(periodicals, charts and more)

*All Proceeds of the Sale to be used for Library Materials
*Sale conducted by the Fellows of the G.W. Blunt White Library

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's a Small World.....

This pocket terrestrial globe is illustrated with a cartouche carrying the phrase “Lane’s Improved Globe, London.” It is approximately 3.5 inches in diameter overall. This little globe has metal pins at the poles which allow the globe to turn inside the shell. The globe is hand colored and shows the routes of various explorers. One note at the Sandwich Islands states “Here C. Cook was killed.” The interior of the shell is illustrated with the signs of the zodiac. The exterior of the shell is covered in what is referred to as “fish-skin” and helped to protect the globe from the elements. It most likely dates from the first quarter of the 19th century. It is accession number 1953.2872 and it can be found in the Collections Research Center. Photo by Andy Price.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fellowships Awarded For Research at Museum

IN A RECENT MEETING OF THE NEW ENGLAND REGIONAL FELLOWSHIP CONSORTIUM, a collaboration of 18 major cultural agencies, the consortium awarded 12 fellowships from a pool of 90 applicants for 2011–2012. Each grant will provide a stipend of $5,000 for a minimum of eight weeks of research at participating institutions. Grants are designed to encourage projects that draw on the resources of several agencies. Each award will be for research at a minimum of three different member institutions. Fellows must work at each of them for at least two weeks. In ten years the Consortium has handed out over 100 fellowships totaling more than $500,000. The initial funding came from a $150,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation and is supported annually by dues from the participating institutions.

Once again the G.W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport will be hosting 2 of the 12 Fellows this year. One, Hari Vishwanadha from Thousand Oaks, California, was a participant in last summer’s Munson Institute that was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Hari spent six weeks combing through our collections and along with his planned visits to other institutions in the consortium, will spend two weeks concentrating on logbooks, letters and business papers relating to his topic “Passages to India”.

The other Fellow, Hannah Farber from the University of California at Berkeley, will be working on completing her dissertation for her Ph.D. This dissertation project (expected completion in spring 2014) explores the ways in which the growth of the American maritime insurance industry shaped international relations, domestic politics, and the cultures of commerce and finance between the American Revolution and the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Our collections in both areas are quite rich and will easily support the two weeks’ worth of work each Fellow will be completing here.

Paul J. O'Pecko

Friday, March 18, 2011

Literary Scrimshaw

The Museum has a wonderful piece of scrimshaw entitled "The Sailor Boy." (Accession number 1974.691) The illustration appears on a large, nine-inch sperm whale and is very nicely done. Richard Malley, who was the Assistant Registrar at Mystic Seaport when he wrote about the Museum's scrimshaw collection in his 1983 book Graven by the Fishermen Themselves, states, "Though the scrimshander's skill is of the highest order, the artist did not concoct the scene on his own." Indeed, as so many other sailors did, this particular jack tar copied a scene from a published source that would have been well known at the time. In the accompanying image, the scrimshaw piece appears on the left, and the published source on the right. The published scene was used as the frontispiece for Shipwrecks and Disasters at Sea by Charles Ellms, first published in 1836. The verse that appears below the boy as he ascends the ratlines reads "Though the strained mast quivers as a reed, And the rent canvas fluttering strew the gale, Still I must on...Byron." A poignant look at the perils of a young man at sea as seen through the eyes of both a poet and a scrimshander. It is a prized piece at Mystic Seaport.

Monday, February 28, 2011

New CHARLES W. MORGAN Painting for the Collection

Mystic Seaport recently acquired a watercolor of the CHARLES W. MORGAN painted in the 1920's by Frederic Schiller Cozzens. Entitled "CHARLES W. MORGAN, 1841, Homeward Bound," the painting shows the MORGAN as a full-rigged ship rather than her more familiar bark rig. The painting was done just prior to her being put on exhibit at the estate of Colonel Green at Round Hill in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Frederick S. Cozzens was a prolific illustrator and artist born in 1846 in New York City. Along with illustrating books and magazines he painted many maritime scenes. While mostly known for his yachting images, Cozzens painted a variety of subjects from whale ships to naval fleets to iceboats, lifesaving scenes and more. He died in New York City in 1928.

This pretty little painting is one more addition to our collection of CHARLES W. MORGAN material, honoring the MORGAN's restoration work currently being done at Mystic Seaport.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Hours For Accessing the Collections!

Along with a New Year, comes a new set of hours that we will be open to the public. Beginning Wednesday, January 5th, the new hours are:

Wednesday 2:00-5:00
Thursday 10:00-5:00
Friday 10:00-3:00

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