West Sea Company

11. Sailor Folk Art

Prices in U.S. Dollars are in GREEN



11.43  IDENTIFIED SEA CHEST.  Truly exceptional 19th century seaman’s trunk with all the bells and whistles collectors avidly seek.  This classic 6 board American chest has sloping “canted” sides made of New England pine with hand dove-tailed construction bearing its original chocolate brown paint.   In true sea chest fashion it has a molded “skirt” on the lid which effectively prevented water from entering the top and a raised “kick board” bottom on all four sides which prevented water seeping in from the deck.  The interior exhibits a single drawer till, iron lock and striker plate, and traditional old hand-forged strap hinges.  The tour de force is the oil on sail canvas painting in the lid depicting the massive sailing bark at sea under full sail, identified below as the “4 . MAST . BARQUE .“EDWARD  SEWILL (sic)” .  BATH . MAINE . U.S.A.”  The huge square rigger with towering skysail royals is shown flying the American flag from her spanker aft with a 3-funneled liner depicted in the distance.  The character and execution of the painting is charmingly naïve with good attention to deck detail -- as expected of a sailor/artist.  Several crewmen are depicted.  The painting measures 26 by 16 ½ inches sight and is rimmed by another ½ inch strip of canvas held by numerous small tacks.   Although the chest itself may be a half century older than its turn-of-the-century identification, the context of the time in which the painting was rendered must be considered.  America had just won a resounding victory in the Spanish-American War.  The Spanish fleet was decimated.  Patriotic exuberance was at an all time high as the United States confidently entered the coming century as a world power.  With that noted, the finishing touches of this sea chest’s beckets and cleats can be appreciated.  The lovely extra large beckets are intricately woven of leather with Spanish hitching and Turks head knots.  The decoratively-carved wooden cleats are painted with patriotic Union shields on both ends.  40 inches long by 16 ½ inches high.  17 inches wide at the base by 15 ½ inches wide on the lid.  There are the typical cracks and nicks expected of a working sea chest well over 100 years old.  But these are merely character marks, not considered to be damage.  Accordingly this handsome chest can be rated as being in “excellent original condition.”  There is no doubt that this sailor member of the merchant sail fraternity was extremely proud to be an American at sea. Price Request Special PackagingBack to To



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11.42  UNUSUAL SHIP IN A BOTTLE.  Old sailor-made folk art whimsy depicting a sailboat in a bottle.  In a departure from the usual horizontal presentation, this example the bottle stands upright .  This type of craft, technically described as a “Bermuda sloop,” has a large triangular mainsail and a smaller foresail.  It has a green-painted wooden hull with bow sprit and plies a yellow putty sea.  The old molded bottle has decorative floral designs around the base and is embossed “Federal Law Forbids Sale or Re-Use of This Bottle” as mandated during the Prohibition era.  Another distinctive feature is the carved wooden stopper which is held in by an “impossible to make” cross brace.   The presentation stands 8 ¼ inches high and is 3 ¼ inches wide. 149


stopper

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11.27


11.27  EXQUISITE POWDER HORN.  Early 1800’s British seaman’s powder flask carved from the tough shell of a coconut.  This extraordinary example is meticulously carved with the finest detail depicting several charming vignettes.  Telling of its origins it shows a crown encircled by an oval double rope border near the bottom.  Nearer the top is the carved inscription “MY HART” encircled by a rope border festooned with leaves and five-pointed stars top and bottom.  Two conjoined hearts are pierced by arrows.  These are flanked by two scaly serpents with arrows for tongues.  There is a mythical beast adorning the top complete with scaly back, lizard legs, two open eyes, and a mouth made of faceted pewter which also serves as the flask’s spout.  On either side are pewter mounting lugs which would have been attached to a strap for carrying.  The remainder of the flask is adorned with any number of rosettes, vines, stars, recurring designs, pinwheels and two castles astride a plinth surmounted by pinwheels! Execution of the carving is of the first order.  The fine detail is literally amazing, and bears close scrutiny under magnification – a true testament to the carver’s advanced skills!  5 ½ inches long by 4 ¼ inches in diameter.  Fabulous original condition. Price Request

 

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11.04

 

11.04  P.O.W. GAMEBOX.  Authentic late 18th or very early 19th century “game casket” made by French prisoners in British prisons during the Napoleonic Wars.  This fine example is constructed entirely of beef bone and wood, with colored paper and even some genuine gold foil!  The box, in the form of a 4-poster bed with bone columns, is finely constructed of pine with pinned and dowelled fittings.  Overlaying the wooden structure the entire surface is covered by meticulously carved bone panels done with incredible detail.  These are affixed in the classic manner with scores of metal rivets!  The sliding lid is “domed” and decorated with reticulated bone panels overlying green paper and two “clubs” of gold.  All four sides of the box are decorated in a similar manner with “sashes” and recurring designs.  The interior of the box is divided into 3 compartments.  The largest houses a  full set of 55 double nines bone domino pieces!  The second holds hand-painted bone playing cards of which there are more than 25 pieces.  The third compartment holds bone die.  This rare set measures 9 inches log, 3 ½ inches wide and 2 ¼ inches high.  The entire presentation is in a remarkable state of original preservation considering the delicacy of its construction and its 200 plus years.  1995


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11.39  SHIP IN A BOTTLE DIORAMA.  Very nice late 19th century American ship in a bottle scene depicting a well-scaled 4-masted bark passing a town.  This handsome example of sailor folk art features a black hulled ship with painted gun ports flying the American flag from the spanker.  The masts and spars are depicted with the appropriate standing rigging.  The background is a lovely little town consisting of several buildings including a church, windmill, lighthouse, shoreline and numerous trees.  All of this is set in the early hand-blown bottle exhibiting numerous bubbles in the glass with two distinctive decorative bulbous rings which terminate in an ovoid neck, making for a most pleasing presentation.  This ship in a bottle is exceptionally clear and bright.  It measures 11 ¼ inches in length by 3 ¼ inches in diameter and is in fabulous original condition.   695



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11.37  CARVED SAILOR’s DITTY BOX.  Genuine 19th century sailor-carved box decorated with classic emblems:  triangles, 5-pointed stars, interlocking triangles forming 6-pointed stars (not stars of David), pinwheels and sunburst patterns -- all deeply carved into the 5 sides.  Accentuating the carvings are very finely chip-carved backgrounds.  This beautifully constructed box is made of solid oak with hand-dovetailed joints and a lid which opens on brass hinges and closes on a brass skeleton key lock.  The interior contains a form-fitting sliding tray made of mahogany.  The box measures 13 inches wide by 9 ¼ inches deep and stands 5 ¾ inches high.  Perfect original condition showing good age and careful use.  Ideal as a jewelry, dressing or document box.  495


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11.36  CLASSIC SHIP IN A BOTTLE.  A most excellent late 1800’s bottle diorama consisting of a 4-masted American bark backed by a charming town.   This is one of the oldest ships in bottles we offer, evidenced by its hand-blown whiskey bottle with bulbous neck, thick bottom and bubbled glass.  The hull is of one piece carved wooden construction set into a blue putty sea.   The prow is identified with the name “BETTY.”  The masts and spars are well proportioned and the ship is appropriately rigged with taut original lines.  The ship flies its house flag “F.S.” from the mainmast and the American ensign from the spanker boom aft.   In the background is a classic diorama depicting a town of 6 houses, a church, a windmill and a large lighthouse.  The shore is lined with at least 11 “leafy” trees carved from wood.  The gray sky above the town is done in an unusual manner -- painted on the outside of the bottle.  The finishing touch is the stopper which is nicely painted in patriotic red white and blue.  Exactly 12 inches long by 3 ½ inches in diameter.  This bottle model is crystal clear and the contents are colorful and bright.  It has been beautifully preserved for well over 100 years in pristine original condition!  695 Special PackagingBack to Top


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11.35  HUGE IDENTIFABLE SHIP DIORAMA.   The largest antique ship in a bottle we have ever seen!  This early example of sailor folk art in a bottle dates from the turn-of-the-last century and undoubtedly depicts the one and only 5-masted sailing ship PREUSSEN.   It features this exceptionally large 5-masted, square-rigged ship flying the American flag from the spanker boom aft, the house flag from the mainmast and a colorful pennant from the aftermast.  The ship’s hull is carved from a single piece of wood, itself measuring 9 inches long inclusive of the bowsprit!  It has 3 deck houses, a capstan on the foc’sle and two life boats on deck.  The masts and spars are nicely proportioned and all rigging is intact.   Steaming alongside the ship on its port side is a charming 2-masted vessel belching cotton “smoke” from its stack.  In the background a large town consisting of 5 buildings and an imposing lighthouse is depicted.  All of this is set in a colorful putty sea together with a cliff shoreline.  This remarkable presentation is contained in a clear molded glass bottle with a greenish tinge, the top of which is embossed “ONE GALLON” and is sealed with its original cork stopper with tassel.   It measures an impressive 13 ½ inches long by 5 ½ inches in diameter!  Capping off this display, the bottle rests on its custom, solid teak stand of handsome proportion and finish with two supports done in the traditional way using mortise and tenon joints.  The stand measures 14 3/8 inches long by 6 ¼ inches wide and is 1 1/4 inches thick. SOLD Back to Top

While the vessel in this diorama is depicted flying the American ensign, it was likely made in homage to PREUSSEN’s single visit to an American port in April 1908, when by all accounts she reportedly wowed New Yorkers with her size and unique design.

PREUSSEN,  the only 5-masted square-rigged sailing ship ever built, was launched on May 7, 1902 at the J. C. Tecklenborg shipyard in Geestemunde, Germany to the plans of chief designer Dr. Georg Wilhelm Claussen.  Commissioned on July 31, 1902, hull number 179, she was made of steel 482 feet in length overall and displaced 11,150 tons.   She departed Bremerhaven, the day of her commissioning, to Iquique on her maiden voyage under the command of Captain Boye Richard Petersen, who actually assisted the naval architect with her design.  Legend has it that Kaiser Wilhelm II, while visiting the 5-masted barque POSTOI  in June 1899, asked the Captain when a 5-masted full-rigged ship would "finally come."  This inspired POSTOI’s owner, Carl Heinrich Laeisz, to order the ship.

As built, this unique vessel could weather the fiercest storm and even navigate in a force 9 gale.  In such conditions it took 8 men to hold the 6 ½ foot double helm wheel!  PREUSSEN  plied the nitrate trade to Chile, setting speed records in the process.  Due to her appearance, size and excellent sailing characteristics seamen called her the "Queen of  Queens of the Sea."  She made twelve round trips between Hamburg and Chile and a round the world voyage via New York to Yokohoma, Japan under charter to the Standard Oil Company.  The mighty Preußen, as she was called by her sailors, had only two skippers in her brief career, Captain Boye Richard Petersen (11 voyages) and Captain Jochim Hans Hinrich Nissen (2 voyages and the collision). Both masters developed their skills sailing such a huge ship under Captain Robert Hilgendorf, late master of the POSTOI.

On November 6, 1910, outbound on her 14th voyage to Chile, PREUSSEN  was rammed by the British cross-channel steamer BRIGHTON  8 nautical miles south of Newhaven.  Unwittingly, the BRIGHTON  attempted to cross PREUSSEN’s bow, underestimating her unusually fast 16 knot speed and ignoring her right-of-way as a sailing vessel.   PREUSSEN  was seriously damaged and lost much of her forward rigging, making it impossible to steer her to safety.   BRIGHTON  returned to Newhaven to summon aid.  The tug ALERT was dispatched to assist PREUSSEN.   But a typical November gale thwarted attempts to sail or tow the huge vessel to safety.   Intensions were for her to anchor off Dover, but both anchor chains broke and PREUSSEN  was driven onto the rocks at Crab Bay where she ultimately sank in 3 ½ fathoms of water.  While the crew and some of the cargo were saved, PREUSSEN  was unsalvageable.  BRIGHTON’s master was found responsible for the collision and his license was revoked.   To this day the  ribs of PRUESSEN can still be seen off Crab Bay during the Spring low tides.


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11.32 SHIP DIORAMA IN A LIGHT BULB.   Especially rare, absolutely delightful sailor folk art depiction of a Dutch steamship at sea with the shore and a town in the background -- all contained in a very early 1900's light bulb! This charming presentation features an old 2-masted steamship with 2 funnels belching (cotton) smoke and flying the Dutch ensign. The detail on this small ship is truly amazing. It features an open bridge abaft of which are 4 classic ventilators and an engineroom skylight. The foc’sle is equipped with capstan, windlass and lifelines!  Aft, the raised poop deck has a skylight and more incredible miniature life lines, not expected on a model of this size. Portholes are depicted on the deck house and along the bulwark. The town in the background consists of 4 buildings, a church, a windmill and a tree. At the extreme left a well proportioned lighthouse stands as a sentinel. This early light bulb is hand-blown, evidenced by the glass pontil nib on the end.   The threaded brass base is marked "PAT NOV 8 1904."  The entire bulb measures 5 inches long and is 2 ½ inches in diameter at the widest.  Outstanding original condition.  Clear and bright.  Complete with lovely removable custom-made solid African mahogany display stand with felt bottom.   The stand measures 2 ½ by 5 12/ inches and is 1 ¼ inches thick.  For the ship in a bottle collector, this is the ultimate addition!  Circa 1910.  795

This bulb most certainly is American with patent markings and date, the duration of which was 12 years. Accordingly the latest it could date is 1916, prior to World War I!


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11.30  SHIP IN A BOTTLE DIORAMA.   Extra nice early 20th century ship in a bottle diorama depicting a large 4-masted bark passing a town of exceptional size and complexity.  There are at least 30 buildings, several carved wooden trees and a large clock tower in the background.   The ship, with sleek, graceful hull, is carved from a single piece of wood painted blue with a salmon deck.  It flies the owner’s flag from the fore and the Italian merchant ensign aft.  This fine example of sailor folk art is signed on banners above the town “Armandad Elina / Recordad di mi / Remember to me.”  All of this is captured in time within a long neck whiskey bottle of clear glass, showing its age with a pontil on the bottom and bubbles in the glass.  It is capped off with the original cork bearing a star sealed under sealing wax.  The bottle is 11 inches long by 4 inches in diameter.  A remarkable feature of this presentation is its charming wooden stand with classic chipped-carved border and muted green, red and yellow paint.  The stand measures 8 inches long by 3 inches wide.   Condition is exceptional.  The bottle is clear and the interior colors clean and bright.  595 Special PackagingBack to Top


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 11.09  AMERICAN SHIP IN BOTTLE DIORAMA.  Good, early 1900’s sailor-made  bottle model of a 3-masted bark, which exhibits many of the characteristics sought after by collectors of this folk art form:
1.  Clear, clean glass bottle of early form.
2.  Carved wooden ship hull with rigging rove through masts and spars.
3.  Ship flying American flag and pennant.
4.  Colorful background depicting a town with several buildings.
5.  Foreground with small steamship.
6.  Original sealed stopper.
7.  Original wooden display stand.

In short, a very pleasing, original and highly collectible example.  The bottle measures 10 inches long by 3 ¼ inches in diameter and the nicely-made solid teak stand measures 11 inches long by 3 inches wide 295 Special Packaging

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11.25  SHIP IN A BOTTLE DIORAMA.  Most charming, early 1900’s ship in a bottle scene depicting a large 3-masterd bark passing a town with numerous features.  These include a large windmill, a derrick lifting a load of lumber on the shoreline, a truss bridge over a river, a town in the hills complete with church tower, and a train on tracks running into a tunnel!  The ship itself has a raised foc’sle and poop carved from a single piece of wood.  Portholes are depicted along it sides, and it is complete with standing rigging.  The ship plies a blue putty sea and the inside of the bottle has a painted blue sky with clouds.  This is all contained within an early molded whiskey bottle with long neck sealed with the original cork under old red paint.  The glass is clear, the colors bright and the contents are untouched.  11 ¼ inches long by 3 inches in diameter.  349 Special Packaging


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11.18  SHIP IN A BOTTLE DIORAMA.  Classic early 1900’s ship in a bottle model depicting a 3-masted bark flying an American flag, passing an American lighthouse station.  The well-detailed ship has a carved and painted wooden hull which plies a green putty sea.  The prominent lighthouse at the rear of the bottle stands next to early Marconi long wire transmission towers, followed by the charming lighthouse keeper’s residence   with two chimneys and a large flagpole flying an oversize American flag!  The scene is contained within a molded glass bottle reading “ONE QUART.”  The long neck of the bottle is decorated with sailor macramé in the form of a Turk’s head knot and stoppered with the original cork under sealing wax.  11 ¼ inches long by 3 ½ inches in diameter.  The bottle is clean, clear and bright.  A very nice example of this early form of sailor folk art, approximately 100 years old at good value.  449 Special Packaging


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11.84

 

11.84 SAILOR'S WOOL. Genuine mid-19th century sailor folk art portrait of a full-rigged ship-of-the-line meticulously hand-stitched on sail canvas using woolen thread! This classic "woolwork" broadside depicts an 80 gun man-o-war flying the British Naval ensign aft with its commissioning pennant streaming from the mainmast. Standing and running rigging are all carefully depicted, as expected of a sailor intimately familiar with the details of his ship. This handsome portrayal measures 13 1/2 by 21 inches sight and is housed in its original gilt-lined bird's eye maple frame -- a standard for such presentations. The frame measures 18 by 25 1/2 inches. Overall condition is excellent. All lines are in tact and there are no losses to the wool as is so often the case with such pictures. Though toned with age, this woolwork is still very bright and colorful. Request Price Special Packaging

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11.19

 

11.19 SAILOR'S NEEDLE CASE. Extra large 19th century sailmaker's needle case. This very fine example of working sailor folk art consists of a carved wooden tube with a matching "plug" cap which joins with a tight press fit. Over each is meticulously woven decorative Spanish hitching done in traditional sailor fashion known as McNamara work or "macramé." Such a covering was functional, providing a wear resistant, easily gripped covering which also spoke of the sailor's abilities as an accomplished seaman. This extra large specimen measures 8 ½ inches long by 1 ½ inches in diameter and is complete with 2 old sail canvas needles. One is triangular-shaped with English markings and the other has an unusual curved “spade” shape. Excellent original condition with a deep, rich old shellacked surface. A very handsome deck hand's needle case from the days of sail. Certainly one of the nicest examples currently on the market. 395


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11.92 SEAM RUBBER. Nicely carved 19th century solid rosewood sail maker's seam rubber. This working sailor's tool has a faceted diamond shaped handle which gives way to an octagonal shaft terminating in a broad tapered blade. The shaft has distinctive raised "nibs" where it meets the blade on each side. 4 1/2 inches long by 2 1/4 inches wide. Outstanding original condition with a deep age patina. 695

This is the exact seam rubber pictured on page 126 of Norman Flayderman's book, "Scrimshaw and Scrimshanders, Whales and Whaleman." We will document this fact in writing to the purchaser. (See entry 4.16)

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11.51 FOLK ART CARVING. Incredible 19th century whimsy carved from a single block of wood. This outstanding example of the carver's art depicts a hook and eye attached to a "capture ball" encased in a cage which is is attached to another eye carved with a large circular ring. The amazing aspect of this carving is that it is fashioned from a single piece of pine, requiring both planning and skill to execute in such a detailed manner. The carving measures 10 1/2 inches long and is in outstanding original condition with an excellent oxidized natural wood finish with beautiful patination. 195

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11.94 SAILOR'S NEEDLE CASE. Huge 19th century sailmaker's needle case. This exceptionally large example of working sailor folk art consists of a carved wooden tube with a matching "plug" cap which joins with a tight press fit. Over each is meticulously woven decorative Spanish hitching done in traditional sailor fashion known as McNamara work or "macramé". Such a covering was functional, providing a wear resistant, easily gripped covering which also spoke of the sailor's abilities as an accomplished seaman. This amazing example measures 9 1/2 inches long by 1 3/4 inches in diameter and is complete with 2 old triangular-shaped heavy sail canvas needles, both with English markings. Excellent original condition with a rich old surface. A simply great deck hand's needle case from the days of sail! The largest example we have ever seen. 495

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11.75 SEAM RUBBER. Nicely carved mid-19th device used by a sailor to crease a fold in sail cloth prior to stitching. This genuine sailmaker's tool is fashioned from a single piece of oak with an octagonally-faceted shaft, tapered "blade" and rounded knob. It is rich with wear and patina attesting to years of actual use aboard a sailing ship. 4 1/2 inches long. A "living" piece of sailing history. 195

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Also see catalog pages 2, 4 and 20 for more sailor-made folk art items

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