West Sea Company

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3.25   EARLY AMERICAN COMPASS.  High quality boxed compass with the center of the card marked “F. J. SLOANE & CO. Baltimore   Chronometers, Nautical Instruments.”  The old fashioned paper drycard mounted on mica is marked in points of the compass, with the cardinal and intercardinal point identified.  North is denoted by a crown.  The card is further divided down to ¼ points or 2.8 degrees!  The center has a high quality agate pivot.  The compass card is housed in a very heavy solid brass body slung in gimbals.  It is mounted in its original machine dove-tailed mahogany box with upper lid and brass fasteners.  The card itself measures 4 inches in diameter.  The compass body is 5 1/8 inches across.  The box measures 7 ½ inches square and 5 inches high with lid.  Excellent working condition.  Retail value $895.  Our list price $395.    for $350



3.57  HIGHEST GRADE SEXTANT.   Mid-century German navigator’s sextant of absolutely the finest quality.  This precision instrument was manufactured by the prestigious “C. PLATH” company of Hamburg, Germany, as engraved on the large arc, along with the company’s famous trademark of a stick man with sextant and serial number.  This state-of-the-art instrument is made of solid brass in its original blackened finish.  The large scale is engraved in single degrees from -5 to 124.  The index arm is equipped has an endless tangent screw with pinch stop and micrometer read out which provides an accurate reading to 1 arc minute.  It is complete with extra large index and horizon mirrors, all 4 index and 3 horizon filters.  The large focusing telescope mounts on a detachable “shoe.”  The reverse is bears 2 “feet” and a substantial Bakelite handle.  The handle is also embossed with the maker’s name and trademark.  This pristine instrument fits neatly into its beautifully-constructed solid oak box of dove-tailed construction and all brass fittings, complete with natural bristle brush and mirror adjusting wrench.  The lid of the box retains the maker’s mark on a silver medallion and the original “Sextant Certificate“ of calibration dated “29. Aug. 1955.”  The index arm measures 9 ¼ inches long and the large arc is 9 ¼ inches wide.  The box is 12 inches square by 7 inches thick.  Plath sextants are by far and away the choice of modern mariners as a most dependable back-up to their electronics.  The entire presentation is in an absolutely remarkable state of original preservation.  It would not be an overstatement to say this sextant appears to be in factory mint condition, little if ever used!  Our list price $895. for $650





13.15  U.S.  MARITIME COMMISSION SHIP’s CLOCK.  Authentic World War II vintage ship’s clock made for the U.S. Maritime Commission by the venerable Seth Thomas clock company.  The silvered brass dial is boldly marked “U.S. MARITIME COMMISSION” in the center, then “Made By Seth Thomas In U.S.A.” below the 6.  This finest quality ship’s clock is marked with large Arabic numerals swept by blackened spade hands and a large center sweep second hand.  A minute chapter ring on the periphery of the dial is marked from 5 to 60 in single second intervals.  This clock has a classic flared ship’s clock bezel which hinges open on the right secured with a thumb screw closing on the original cork gasket.  The black Bakelite case is marked on the back with the iconic “GE” (General Electric) logo.  The fully jeweled all brass movement is marked stamped the Seth Thomas logo within a diamond and is dated “8-44” (August 1944) indicating it was made during the peak of the Second World War. This clock is an good  time keeper and is in excellent cosmetic condition showing signs of actual use.  7 ¾ inches in diameter.    Our list price $549 $395

The United States Maritime Commission was an agency of the Federal Government created by the Merchant Marine Act passed on June 29, 1936.  It replaced the United States Shipping Board (U.S.S.B.) which dated from World War I.  The Merchant Marine Act formulated a Long Range merchant shipbuilding effort to design and build five hundred modern cargo ships.  These were intended to replace the World War I era vessels which comprised the bulk of the United States Merchant Marine at the time.  The Maritime Commission was also tasked with administering a subsidy program to build and operate ships under the American flag.  Further it created the United States Maritime Service for training Merchant Marine officers to man the fleet.

In the late 1930's, several dozen merchant ships were built for the Commission under the original 500 shipbuilding program. Then in the late fall of 1940 the Emergency Shipbuilding program came into being, in order to support a lifeline to Great Britain and nationalize American shipbuilding in the event of war.

The first existing vessel undertaken by the Merchant Marine Act was the mighty SS AMERICA, owned by the United States Lines, which had operated in passenger service since 1940. When war appeared imminent, AMERICA was requisitioned by the U.S. Navy on June 1, 1941 and renamed USS WEST POINT for use as a troop carrier.

 From 1939 through the end of World War II the U.S. Maritime Commission funded and administered the largest, most successful merchant shipbuilding effort in history.  Thousands of ships, including Liberty ships, Victory ships, tankers and freighters were produced.  Many were converted to Navy auxiliaries, notably attack cargo ships, attack transports, escort aircraft carriers, and tankers which became fleet replenishment ships.  The Commission also was tasked with the construction of many hundreds of U.S. Navy ships including LST's, Tacoma-class frigates and troop transports.  By the end of the war, U.S. shipyards had built a total of 5,777 merchant and naval ships under Maritime Commission auspices.

Upon the cessation of hostilities in World War II,  the Emergency and Long Range shipbuilding programs were ended.  In 1946, the Merchant Ship Sales Act was passed to sell off the Post-War surplus of ships to commercial buyers.  Ships not sold under the Ship Sales Act were placed into one of eight National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) sites maintained on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts.

The U.S. Maritime Commission was officially disbanded on May 24, 1950.

18.69  CONVOY STERN LIGHT.   Authentic World War II era merchant ship’s stern lamp as used when steaming in convoy under darken ship conditions.  This heavy duty ocean-going lantern is made of solid copper with brass fittings.  The lovely deep blue glass lens is curved, describing an arc of 10 points of the compass (112 ½ degrees).   It is mounted in its copper housing having a dome top and with brass handle and copper mounting brackets on each side.  The back of the lamp is equipped with a sliding copper panel which lifts up by means of a brass ring to reveal the interior.  All of fittings are attached with sturdy rivets.  The interior is fitted with a porcelain fixture which accommodates a standard 110-220 V incandescent bulb.  It is presently wired with a functional low wattage bulb and a 110 cord with in-line On/Off switch.  Although unmarked, the construction of this stern light appears to be English in origin and is entirely hand-made.  11 ½ inches tall by 9 inches wide and 6 ¼ inches deep.  Perfect original condition exhibiting a nice rich patina.  A nice, not too overwhelming size, displayable in most any setting.  Our list price $429 for $309

The development of convoy steaming evolved during World War I “herding” vessels safely across the Atlantic to minimize the threat of the German wolf pack attacks on lone ships.  The technique was perfected in World War II in the days before radar.  The idea of the blue convoy light was that it could only be seen short distances – enough for the ships in convoy to keep station, but not far enough away to be detected by a submerged submarine.



9.56   MICROSCOPE.  “Society of the Arts” microscope as produced during the 4th quarter of the 19th century in Britain.  Quite often these microscopes were awarded to university students who graduated at the top of their class in the sciences.  This handsome example is all brass with a heavy black enameled iron base.  The main tube receiver is engraved “THOMPSON, 94 Manchester St., LIVERPOOL.”  The base is equipped with a very tight rack and pinion focusing mechanism and the screw-in optical tube has a separate fine focus.  This microscope comes with some period accessories, but it is not altogether complete.  It is housed in its original fine mahogany box with folding brass carrying handle, original skeleton lock and key, ivory-knobbed drawer containing numerous glass slides and ultra-thin glass specimen covers.  As shown the microscope measures 12 1/4 inches high closed.  The nice box measures 6 by 7 by 7 10 inches.  A good quality microscope from the 1880’s to be sold at a very reasonable price.   Our List Price $495   Make Offer

Gerard L’e Turner, “Collecting Microscopes,” 1981, Christie’s International Collectors Series, Mayflower Books, New York.  A similar instrument is illustrated on page 79.




10.86 MARK V BREASTPLATE. Very scarce, World War II vintage hard hat diver's breastplate made for the U.S. Navy by A. Schrader's Son as indicated on the oval cast brass nameplate affixed to the front. The entire tag reads:

MOD No 1 AUG 1942

This genuine American hard hat relic is in excellent, "as last dived" condition and is complete with the leather O-ring which seats in the bonnet and the dumbbell lock channel with chain as pictured. Our list price $1500  for $1300.

* For the privacy and security of the ultimate purchaser, the serial number of this item is being withheld.


13.36 BOTTOM BELL CLOCK. Classic late 19th century American ship's bell clock manufactured by Seth Thomas of Thomaston, Connecticut. The uniquely handsome ship's clock is known as the "outside bell" or "bottom bell" and dates from the 1890's It has a silvered brass dial with bold black Roman numerals, blued steel spade hands, minute chapter ring and a seconds bit showing individual seconds below "XII." The dial is marked "Made In U.S.A." along the bottom. The Fast/Slow adjust lever is above the 12 o'clock position and the manual strike lever marked "Strike" is left of "IX." The glazed hinged bezel with reflector ring opens from the right with a tight press fit. The clock case is all brass in its original nickel finish. This clock is mounted to its original wooden backboard with brass hanging brackets top and bottom and retains a paper label reading, "ONE DAY * LEVER, _._ Seth Thomas, Thomaston, Conn., U.S.A. Manufacturer of Every Variety of One and Eight Day Weight and Spring mantel Clocks.", etc. The dial is 5 1/2 inches in diameter while the clock measures 11 inches high by 7 inches wide overall. The all brass movement is in excellent running condition and strikes the ship's bell sequence properly with a surprisingly loud clear tone. The dial is in near perfect original condition - rare for this type of clock. Our list price $995  for $850.

2.  INCLINOMETER.  Authentic, unusually large ship’s pilot house inclinometer made of heavy solid brass.  This pendulum-type inclinometer would have graced a very prominent position on an athwartships bulkhead in the pilot house of the ship.  It is calibrated in single degrees port and starboard from 0 at the center (even keel) to 40 degrees on either side.  The heavy brass pendulum bob is pivoted at the apex and swings freely providing a most accurate indication of the ship’s heel at the moment.  This very substantial ship’s instrument is solid brass and measures 13 ¼ inches high by 17 ¼ inches wide.  The instrument itself is at least 1/8th inch thick.  Our list price $249 SOLD for $210.


5.  NAUTICAL ADVERTISING THERMOMETER.  Early 1900’s dial thermometer housed in a wooden ship’s wheel frame.  This handsome yet functional presentation was made for the “Cummings Transfer And Fuel Co. of Albany, Oregon.”  The 3 digit phone number is a testament to its age!  It depicts a lovely square rigger under full sail in the middle encircled by the thermometer scale reading single degrees Fahrenheit from -20 to 120.  The dial is protected by a convex glass crystal with a gilt metallic rim.  The dial measures 5 ½ inches in diameter and the entire presentation is 10 inches wide from spoke to spoke.  A brass hanging bracket is equipped on the back.  The wooden ship’s wheel frame and 8 spokes are all turned of solid hardwood.   Excellent original condition and extremely accurate! Our list price $149  for $120


6.   WHALING REFERENCE BOOK.  Alexander Starbuck, “History of the American Whale Fishery,” High quality 1989 reprint of the original version published in 1878.  779 pages, hard cloth cover with dust jacket.  Widely regarded as the “Bible” of the whaling industry in America, Mr. Starbuck’s thorough treatment of the subject with such painstaking detail  is all the more remarkable in this modern age of instant information.  He devotes 179 pages to a narrative history of whaling in America, from the early shore whaling in the colonies to the Golden Age of whaling during the mid-19th century.  Following the history is an amazingly detailed listing of every whaling voyage departing American shores in the period from 1778 through 1876!  Each entry contains the date of departure, port, vessel name, type, tonnage, captain, owner or agent, whaling ground, date of arrival, result of voyage ( sperm-oil, whale-oil, whalebone), and remarks.  It is followed by a “recorded summary of importation of oil and bone from 1804 to 1876.”  That is followed by a “Synopsis of importation by ports from 1804 to 1877.”  It is followed by the “Index of Voyages by Vessel Names” organized by home ports.  There is a short “General Index” followed by several pages of detailed line drawings of whales and whalecraft.  Excellent used condition showing care.  Our List Price $495  for $395.

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14.   ARTISIC PHOTOGRAPH.  Lovely, original old hand-tinted lithographed photo.  This stunning image is of the heavily laden 6-masted American schooner ADDIE M. LAWRENCE as pencil titled on the original mat lower left and signed by the artist “F. Thompson” in cursive script lower right.   The photograph was taken of the vessel under full billowing sail from a starboard bow perspective in placid seas.  The image measures 7 by 9 inches sight, with a plate mark impression 8 ¾ by 10 ¾ inches in the original cream-colored vellum mat with measures 13 by 16 inches overall.  It is protected in its original heavy paper folder.  Perfect original condition.  This presentation appears to have been undisturbed in conservation conditions for nearly100 years or more!   Our List Price $49 for $39.

Frederick H. Thompson formed the Thompson Art Company in Portland, Maine in 1900.   Following the lead of the prolific artist and photographer Wallace Nutting, Thompson produced a wide variety of interior and exterior scenes consisting of hand-tinted photographs.  Frederick died a premature death in 1909 but the business was continued by his son, Frederick M. Thompson, who died in 1923.

According to Paul C. Morris in “American Sailing Coasters of The North Atlantic, 1979, Bonanza Books, New York, “The ten vessels that were laid down and launched as six-masters were truly tremendous in size.  The smallest in terms of both gross tonnage and length was the “Addie M. Lawrence” built by Percy and Small at Bath, Maine in 1902.  This vessel measured 2,807 gross tons, was 292.4 feet in length and was homeported in Portland, Maine.  She met her demise on July 12, 1917 when she stranded at Les Boeufs, France near the mouth of the Loire River, en route from Boston to St. Nazaire.


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