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3.07   LOG TIMER.  Mid-19th century ship's sand timer used in conjunction with a chip log to determine a ship's speed.  This early example consists of a rolled brass canister containing 2 hand-blown bulbous vials attached in the center containing a tiny orifice.  The red-orange sand within passes through the constriction from one bulb into the other in approximately 28 seconds. The sand flows freely in either direction.  One end contains a threaded knurled cap stamped "28."  This is telling of the timer's age, in that slower sailing ship's required more passage of time to calculate their speed in knots, than subsequent and faster steamships. We have handled several log timers over the years and this is the smallest we have ever encountered at 1 inch in diameter and 2 ¾ inches tall.  Excellent original condition showing a good age patina.  The old blown glass is dusty, but we have opted not to clean it.  A rarity.  SOLD

The exact origins of sand timers are unclear, although they are generally attributed to the Arab world.  From ancient times the passage of water was used as a measurement of time in "water clocks."  As a follow-on, the "fluid dynamics" of flowing sand was seen to be similar. "By the Middle Ages the sand-glass came into its own and, fragile though it was, this was the first clock which the men who made the great voyages of discovery took with them." (Jean Randier, "Nautical Antiques for the Collector, 1977, Doubleday & Co., New York, page 96). "Dating old sand glasses can be difficult, but the color or tint of the bulbs is a help. The glass was greenish up to about 1700.  During the 18th century it was darker; then in the 19th century it gradually acquired the transparency of crystal.  There were also variations in the actual sand which, prior to about 1720, was reddish or orange-red in color. After about 1720, white or green sand was increasingly used." (Alan Major, "Marine Antiques," 1981, A.S. Barnes & Co., New York, pages 178-179.)  Finally, by the mid-19th century iron filings were preferred due to their density and ease of flow.

In the early days of sail ship's personnel stood watch on deck for a period of 4 hours marked by 8 half hour intervals. Before the advent of reliable mechanical timekeepers, it was the duty of the boatswain mate of the watch or the helmsman to monitor the ship's "watch glass" and announce each of its half hour passages with a successive stroke of the helm bell, one through 8.  To this day "ship's bell" clocks mimic this ancient seafaring tradition.

 Mariners have used the log and sand timer for centuries in the method of navigation known as dead reckoning.  The first known description of the log was in A Regiment for the Sea by William Bourne in 1574.   Bourne devised a half-minute sandglass for timing.  At the time, a mile was reckoned to be 5,000 feet, so in 30 seconds at one mile per hour, a ship would travel about 42 feet:

 distance in feet = 1 mph x 5,000 feet / 1 mile x 30 seconds s 1 hour/ 3,600 seconds

By 1592 it was understood that a nautical mile was 1/60th of a degree of latitude at the equator.  Slowly maritime nations adapted the new "nautical mile" of 6,000 feet.  Using it in the above formula yields 28.8 seconds for a distance of 8 fathoms or 48 feet.  Accordingly 28-second and 14-second glasses became common navigational equipment.

running side

time mark

4.97  CLOTHES PINS.  Pair of 19th century clothespins fashioned out of the dense panbone of sperm whale.  These nearly matching pins are an excellent example of the utilitarian scrimshaw output of the Yankee whalers in the Golden Age of the American whale fishery – the largest in the world.  3 inches long and 3/8 inches thick.  Untouched original condition.   99/pr


Not available or for sale in California. Shipped from Massachusetts.


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4.98  WHALEBONE FID.  Extra nice working sailor's tool known as a marlinspike or fid, used by sailors for splicing line and other shipboard tasks.  This particularly handsome example is fashioned from the solid panbone of a sperm whale's jaw, gradually tapering to a sharp tip.  It measures 9 ½ inches long and is 1 inch thick on the blunt end with two decorative scribe lines  incised.  A museum accession number is affixed to the side.  Outstanding original condition with a smooth lustrous surface.   WAS $695  NOW!  319


Not available or for sale in California. Shipped from Massachusetts.


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16.28  SNUFF BOX.   Exquisite early 1800's personal box carved from horn with an unusual hinged lid.  The unique hinge is actually carved top and bottom out of contiguous material.  There is no metal.  The hinge is part of the box!  The body of the lid is also carved from horn with a layer of decorative tortoise shell laminated on top.   Crowning the presentation is a very delicate and elaborate inlay of silver wire with an oval cartouche.   The workmanship lavished on this piece is of exceptional quality.   We have never seen better! 349

perspective open


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5.70 / 15.33  FAMOUS ORIGINAL PHOTO.  Genuine silver plate photograph of one of the very first "4-piper" destroyers, USS DRAYTON, conducting speed trails.  DRAYTON was laid down on August 19, 1909 at the Bath Iron Works Bath, Maine.  She was launched on August 22, 1910 and commissioned on October 29th.  This photo is signed lower left "USS Drayton Copyright by N. L. Stebbins, Run 25 South 32.88 Knots."  Although undated it is obviously 1910 before commissioning.  The sepia tone image clearly shows the sleek vessel belching coal smoke in a mighty effort to attain top speed.  Scrutiny under magnification shows crewmen on the bridge and just aft on deck.  It is interesting to note this photograph was taken prior to the installation of the ship's armament.  Measuring 7 ½ by 9 ¼ inches sight, it is mounted on the stiff card 9 ½ by 11 ¼ inches.  There are a few light stains here and there, but in general the image is clear without faults.  A good original photograph by one of New England's premier marine photographers over 110 years old!  99

 After commissioning DRAYTON arrived in Key West, Florida to patrol Cuban waters.  Beginning April 9, 1914 she served on blockade duty off Mexico during the uprisings there and  took refugees out of  troubled areas.

In advance of World War I DRAYTON served on neutrality patrol and conducted torpedo and gunnery exercises out of Newport, Rhode Island and in the Caribbean.  After war was declared in early April 1917, she overtook the German steamer FREIDA LEONHRDT interning the crew.  DRAYTON departed the Boston Navy Yard on May 21 for Queenstown, Ireland arriving on June 1st.  From there she patrolled the coast of Ireland and escorted arriving and departing merchants.  On June 20 she searched for the submarine which had torpedoed BENGORE HEAD and rescued 42 survivors from Bantry, Ireland.  From June 26 to July 4th she escorted a transport convoy to St. Nazaire and took part in a submarine hunt with two French cruisers.  In December she picked up 39 survivors of the ship FOYLEMORE.

DRAYTON continued her patrolling duties out of Queenstown until she departed European waters on December 16, 1918 arriving Boston on January 2, 1919.  She then cruised along the east coast on various exercises and maneuvers until July 18th, when she reported to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for decommissioning.  She was decommissioned on November 17, 1919.  On July 1st 1933, her name was dropped, thereafter known as DD-23  until sold on June 28, 1935.


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7.62  BILL of SALE.  Original sailing ship bill of sale for the Brig "Silas S. Martin" of Castine as penned in lovely cursive script.  This document conveying 1/32nd part of the vessel ("together with sails, boats, anchors, cables, tackle, furniture and all other necessaries") to F. A. Hooke from Mary W. Hooke for the sum of $400, is dated May 5, 1876.  It is pre-printed on quality rag paper, folded into 4 pages.  The top front bears the image of an American eagle perched on the Union shield clutching olive braches and arrows.  The inside pages contain much information about the ship and its official transfer of title, and bears the seal of the Registrar of Castine, Maine.  This document measures 8 ½ by 14 inches on each of its 4 pages, is 17 inches wide overall, and folds down to 8 ½ by 3 ½ inches.  Good original condition considering its 135 years.  49

The Brig SILAS S. MARTIN was built in Castine, Maine.  She had a length of 109 feet, displaced 218 tons, had a square stern and a prow decorated with a billet head.  Her master was R. B. Brown.


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AUTHENTIC LIGHTHOUSE. This is the ultimate! Here is an exceptional opportunity to own a very historic relic of America’s rich maritime heritage embodied in the original lamp room from the famous Ballast Point Lighthouse, which served its sentinel duties in the channel of San Diego Bay from 1890 until 1960. This incredibly well-preserved piece of history was built according to specifications laid out by the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1885. A copy of the original specifications are included as are much printed references and photographs. Erected in 1890, the 5th Order lighthouse was a significant aid to navigation in conjunction with the Point Loma Lighthouse (1850) poised at the entrance to San Diego Bay. Ballast Point Light was situated further inside the massive bay on a point which jutted into the seaway which posed a hazard to shipping. 13 feet 10 inches high with a maximum width of 8 feet 8 inches. Weight approximately 5 tons. It will require a crane and a flat bed truck for transport. 129 years old! Price Request Special Packaging

Serious inquiries only please. No telephone quotes. This item has been nominated as a candidate for the National Historic Register, and is currently being considered by a number of museums, private lighthouse restoration groups and the U.S. Navy. Clear title is guaranteed. Please provide your qualifications for ownership and your intentions for use. We reserve the right to select a deserving owner. We have already soundly rejected a low ball offer of $25,000 – that being the original price of the lamp room in 1890! A single 5th Order light house lens recently sold for $125,000. This is the entire lamp room, much rarer, and probably the only one of its kind to ever be for sale again.


On October 2, 1888, recognizing the need for a harbor light in the increasingly congested channel of San Diego Bay, Congress authorized $25,000 for the construction of a lighthouse to be built on Ballast Point. Fashioned in the late Victorian style, the entire structure took 3 months to build beginning in March 1890. The light was first lit on August 1st. It was a sister of the lights at San Luis Obispo and Table Bluff, south of Humboldt Bay. All were wood framed structures with attached living quarters. The ironwork for the lantern was forged in San Francisco and carried south to San Diego by ship. The French firm of Sautter, Lemmonier, & Cie. manufactured the Freznel lens for the Ballast Point Light in 1886. The fixed 5th Order lens was visible for a distance of at least 11 miles.

When California was still part of Mexico the peninsula jutting into San Diego Bay was known as Punta del los Guijarros or “Pebble Point.” For centuries cobblestones washed down by the San Diego River had been deposited on the point. When California gained statehood in 1850 the point was renamed Middle Ground Shoal. As time went on and merchant traffic in the harbor increased, many sailing ships found it convenient to load or discharge the stones as ballast. The practice continued and eventually the name “Ballast Point” stuck.

Accompanying the Ballast Point lighthouse was a huge 2,000 pound fog bell in a wooden tower. In 1928 it was supplanted by a single tone electric diaphone horn.

The first keeper of the light was John M. Nilsson, assigned duty on July 15, 1890. The second was Henry Hall, who took the job on December 1, 1892. Perhaps the most famous keeper was Irish born David R. Splaine, a Civil War veteran and veteran lighthouse keeper, who assumed the post in 1894, having served at Point Conception, the Farallons and San Diego’s own Point Loma light from 1886-1889.

In 1913 the original old kerosene lamp was replaced with an acetylene burner. Acetylene gave way to electricity in 1928. In 1938 a filter was fitted inside the 5th Order Freznel lens giving the light a distinctive green hue for recognition. One of the last keepers of the light was Radford Franke who recalled receiving the order to “douse the light” upon the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

By early 1960 the light was deemed to be of no further service, so in June of that year the lantern room was removed to a salvage yard. The wooden tower and its brick and mortar foundation remained a couple of years later until they too were declared structurally unsafe and demolished. The bell tower continued to survive, mounted with a 375 mm high intensity lamp on its roof. However the value of maintaining any light on Ballast Point diminished with the installation of harbor entrance range lights. In the late 1960’s the bell and its tower were dismantled. The tower found its way to a private residence in Lakeside, California. The bell had a more circuitous later life. It was purchased from a San Diego area junk yard in 1969 for its scrap value of 5 cents per pound! The one ton bell remained on local private property until 1991, when it was put on loan to the San Diego Maritime Museum. In 1999 the bell was transported to the son of the original buyer, living in Colorado. Then in 2002, the bell finally found its way to the home of the owner’s granddaughter living in Vermont, where it rests to this day.

The story of the lantern’s later life is even more fascinating. The nation was just recovering from the Cuban Missile Crisis between JFK and Khrushchev, when in 1964 the Cuban government cut off the fresh water supply to the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay. By that time, an experimental desalinization plant had been in operation at Point Loma for 2 years. The Navy hastily ordered it to be disassembled and shipped through the Panama Canal to Cuba. A gentleman working as a crane operator during the process noted the shabby lantern room in a trash heap nearby. He inquired as to the fate of the relic and was told it was salvage. Asking if he could purchase it, the yard foreman told him he could “have it” if he would haul it away. With that, for the next 34 years the lantern room served as a gazebo in the backyard of the man’s residence in Bonita, California. It was purchased by the present owners in 1998, fully refurbished, and then placed on public display ever since. Now it is time for it to find its next new home. According to the crane operator who delivered the lamp room it weighs approximately 5 tons. It will require a crane and a flat bed truck for removal.


F. Ross Holland, “The Old Point Loma Lighthouse,” 1978, Cabrillo Historical Association, San Diego, California

Jim Gibbs, “The Twilight of Lighthouses,” 1996, Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, PA.

Kin Fahlen and Karen Scanlon, “Lighthouse of San Diego,” 2008, Arcadia Publishing, San Francisco

Kraig Anderson, “Forgotten Ballast Point “Lighthouse” Seeks New Home,” article in “Lighthouse Digest,” East Machias, Maine, September – October 2011, Vol. XX, no. 5 pages 34 – 37.

“Mains’l Haul,” a periodic publication of the San Diego Maritime Association, Summer 1990, Vol. XXVI, No. 4, pp. 11-12.






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