West Sea Company

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Prices in U.S. Dollars are listed in GREEN.

4.41  SCRIMSHAW CRIBBAGE BOARD.  Exceptional early 1900's carved and inlaid cribbage board fashioned from the large tusk of a bull walrus.  This superb example of early Alaskan Eskimo trade output far surpasses the quality of most of its genre which were simply decorated with incised pictographs.  This cribbage board is actually carved in relief, and then, if that were not enough, it is inlaid with baleen separators throughout its length!  The charming vignettes depict a fox chasing an arctic hare on the left and a stately reindeer on the right.  In the center is the cribbage board with 6 successive rows of holes for the pegs used in that game.  The rows are meticulously inlaid with insets of whale baleen.  The base of the tusk was drilled to house pegs.  It rests on two sculpted feet composed of pinned and pegged whale tooth ivory.  The tusk measures 18 inches long by 2 5/8ths inches wide at the widest.  Excellent untouched original condition showing 100 years of age.  1495

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




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5.87  FAMOUS EARLY BATTLESHIP GROUPING.  Rare compilation of 3 items relating to
the Great White Fleet battle cruiser USS SOUTH DAKOTA.  This grouping consists of 2 period post cards.  The first is an original chromolithograph depicting the vessel from a port bow aspect entitled, "1292 – U.S. ARMORED CRUISER "SOUTH DAKOTA." 800 OFFICERS AND MEN.  LENGTH 502 FEET.  MAIN BATTERY 18 GUNS."  The reverse of the card is signed "Edward M. Mitchell. Publisher.  San Francisco."  The second card is a genuine photograph entitled lower center "SOUTH DAKOTA" & "PUEBELO" C-203."  These cards are the standard 3 ½ x 5 ½ format  in excellent condition.  The third item is a scarce original sailor's silk hat ribbon embroidered "U.S.S. SOUTH DAKOTA" in gold thread on a black field.  It measures
36 inches long by 1 5/8 inches wide.  The gold thread has toned with age, but the entire presentation is in outstanding original condition.  95




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8.53 EARLY SHIP's MAIN STEAM PRESSURE GAUGE. Huge, heavy solid bronze ship's main steam gauge made for "Thompson & Co., PTY, Ltd. Castilemaine Victoria Australia" and dated "1914" as engraved on the lustrous brass dial. Below center it boldly reads "INITIAL STEAM PRESSURE." At the bottom it bears the shield trademark of the maker, the famous American steam valve and gauge company "ASHCROFT, New York." The calibrated dial reads from 0 to 350 pounds per square inch in 5 pound increments marked by 50's. The early style ornate blued steel indicator needle has a "clover leaf" counter balance opposite the tip resting at zero. Typically such dials indicated a working pressure of about 2/3 of the maximum shown, so in this case about 230 psi, consistent with steam plants operating prior to World War I. Unlike most gauges of this vintage and size this gauge is in a classic ship's clock configuration with flared bezel which actually screws on to the case rather then being attached by screws. The case itself has a large mounting flange with 3 holes for mounting. The input fitting, located on the lower back, is a threaded female coupling. The handsome dial measures 9 ½ inches across. The glazed bezel is 12 inches in diameter while the flange is 13 inches wide. This is the largest all brass gauge we have had in our 40 years, weighing in at an amazing 19 pounds! Immaculate condition. 939

Sincere thanks to U.S. Navy Captain Terry Tilton (Ret.), author and expert on marine engineering who provided authentication.


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10.56 EARLY DIVING/SALVAGE PHOTOGRAPH. Very scarce albumen photograph of the refloating of the steam/sail ship CITY of ATLANTA in 1893. It is identified in the artist's hand lower right "City of Atlanta pumped out by prop Williams & Chapman" Jany 18-93." The image shows the 2 masted schooner at dock in the midst of winter with a salvage lighter alongside. Below it is the prominent label reading "Wrecking Heavy Hoisting DIVERS and STEAM PUMPS CHAPMAN DERRICK & WRECKING CO. 70 South Street New York." It is housed in its original gilt wooden frame under old wavy glass with wooden backing. On the back is an old type-written label indicating information on the vessels involved. The image measures 7 ½ by 9 ½ inches sight. The frame measures 14 by 16 inches. Condition is very good (no damage), but showing its 125 year old age. A quite rare and sought after subject matter spanning several collector categories. 239



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16.66  EARLY CORK SCREW.  Very old, wine cork screw of French manufacture.  This oenophilic tool has a sculpted bone handle with a tufted bristle brush on one side and a turned bone cap on the other.  The working end is a cast iron cork screw with radiating circular top, the entire assembly of which is rove through the bone, held by a very old style circular nut.  The width of the bone handle is 3 ¾ inches.  With brush is measures 4 ¾ inches wide and 4 inches to the tip of the corkscrew to the top of the handle.  Overall condition is excellent, however the tip of the screw was broken off by an enthusiastic wine bibber.  Priced accordingly.  149

ex. Paul Madden Antiques, Sandwich, Massachusetts. 


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22.09  WEATHER GLASS.   Authentic hand-blown glass weather instrument known as a weather glass, storm glass or thunder glass, as found in the homes of sea captains from the 17th through the19th centuries.  This exacting copy consists of a one piece glass vial with a hanging eye at the top, a curved swan's neck spout, and terminates in a bulbous glass bottom.   It is complete with a hand-wrought hanging bracket of copper and brass.  In use the glass is partially filled with water so that the level can be seen within the spout.  Weather changes accompanied by varying atmospheric pressure are evident in the rise and fall of the water level in the spout.  The hanging bracket measures 12 inches tall overall and the glass is 9 inches tall and 3 ½ inches wide.  Perfect condition.  49

Bert Bolle in "Barometers," 1982, Argus Books, Watford, Herts, England discusses the Thunder glass or "donderglas" stating, "The title of "weather glass" is more apt than "barometer" in the context of the instrument shown.  A barometer is a measuring instrument, as such, has a scale; a thunder glass does not have a scale.  Therefore the term "weather glass" is more suitable for this, nonetheless, decorative antique."

"In the illustration, one can see that the glass is hung from a small hole at the top and is filled with liquid.  This can be water with a dye if desired.  The instrument, about 10 inches high, functions on the principle that variation in air pressure will cause fluctuation in the water level in the spout.  Without a doubt, this instrument is only partly reliable as it is greatly influenced by variations in ambient temperature.  However, if the thunder glass is hung in a place where variations in temperature are minimized, it is an excellent indicator of variations in air pressure."

"Thunder glasses were characteristically Dutch and production got under way sometime in the early 17th century."
This example comes complete with the original instructions printed when we commissioned an old-school glass blower to make a few of these instruments in 1983.  Since then they have been in storage for more than 30 years!


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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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