West Sea Company

New This Week:

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

3.42    NAVIGATOR’s RULES.   A very nice example of late 19th century rolling parallel rules made by the well-known English maker “J.A. Nicholl & Co.” as impressed in the top of the rule.  This substantial, highly accurate navigational instrument is made of brass with a boxwood body.  It consists of a heavy brass axel connected to knurled rollers on each end.  These move freely allowing the rules to run over the face of a chart parallel to the course line.  To assist the navigator in plotting, knurled brass knobs are provided on each end of the rules.  This precision device is housed in its high quality mahogany box with machine dovetailing and interior felt supports.  Two brass hook and eye closures insure the contents are secure.  The rules measure 18 inches long by 2 ½ inches wide.  Unlike trapezoidal parallel rulers, the extent of this ruler’s travel is endless.  The box measures 19 inches long by 3 ¼ inches wide and 1 7/8 inches thick.  Outstanding original condition in all respects.  249

J. A. Nicholl worked from 1848-1901+.  In 1865 his address was 42 Stanhope Street, London and from 1885 onward it was 153 High Holborn, London WC.  He was known to have made and sold protractors.  (Gloria Clifton, “Dictionary of British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1851,”



Order Info

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.


Order Info

9.90 / 22.40  POCKET COMPENDIUM.  Remarkable 2nd half of the 19th century English gentleman’s traveling instrument containing FOUR scientificfunctions in one!  This compact device is signed in engraved script “L. Braham & Co. 142 Southampton Row LONDON.”  On the front it features 2 functions, as a barometer and altimeter.  The barometer function, reading effectively from 28 to 31 inches of atmospheric pressure, is marked “RAIN, CHANGE, and FAIR.”  The scale is calibrated in inches of mercury down to 5/100ths.  The second function, the altimeter, indicates the altitude in feet from sea level to 8000 feet in 50 foot increments marked by thousand’s.  Both are indicated by a very fine pointer needle.  To aid in the reading the revolving knurled bezel is equipped with a built-in “bubble” magnifier.  The reverse of this amazing instrument has a curved mercury thermometer reading from -5 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  Central to the display is a functional compass made on Singer’s Patent.  The high quality card is made of mother of pearl with a central agate pivot.  The compass is marked in single points of the compass with the cardinal and intercardinal points identified.  North is indicated by a lyre symbol.  Remarkably this miniature compass has a caging device operated by a tiny lever to immobilize the card when not in use!  The instrument is solid brass with traces of original gilding.  It has a pivoting suspension loop at the top and a small aperture at the bottom for setting the barometer reading.  A mere 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.  All functions are working and very accurate.  The best of its type we have seen in our 40 years.  695

Samuel Barry Singer, a master mariner form Southampton, England patented a unique compass card in 1861.  He intended for his design to be used in ships’ compasses, but the dials were most often used in pocket compasses.  His innovation incorporated a distinctive half black, half white card.  The sharp contrast was designed to make reading easier in low light conditions.  The North half of the dial is black and the South white.  The lyre symbol may have had a metaphorical meaning, representing Vega, known as the Harp Star, one of the brightest stars in the Northern Hemisphere in the constellation of Lyre.

Kornelia Takacs, “Compass Chronicles,,” 2010, Schiffer Publications, Atglen, Pennsylvania.

thermometer - Compass

Order Info


21.33  TRIPOD TELESCOPE.  Superb mid-19th century table tripod telescope by one of England’s finest makers of the era.  This all brass telescope is of diminutive size.  It is signed on the ocular end of the barrel in beautifully-engraved script, “Thos. Harris & Son Opticians to the Royal Family No 52. Opposite the British Museum, London.”  It consists of the main tube 19 inches long by 2 3/8 inches in diameter.  Focusing is accomplished by a large knurled knob attached to an internal rack and pinion system which provides a smooth precise movement of the drawtube which contains 4 internal erecting and magnifying lenses for terrestrial viewing.  For celestial viewing (astronomy) a second draw tube is provided which has two fewer internal lenses giving clearer images of the sun, moon and stars (less glass, less distortion).  Along with the tube are two screw-on eye piece filters.  There is also a threaded lens cover to protect the main tube from dust when not in use. To these ends, the original knurled objective lens press-on cover is also present.  To steady the telescope for viewing it is equipped with its original heavy brass tripod with folding Queen Anne legs.  It attaches to the main tube by means of 2 knurled round nuts.  The tripod allows the telescope to elevate and slew with a firm tight action in any direction and more than 90 degrees elevation.  As configured it stands 18 ½ inches tall.  The footprint of the tripod is 11 inches wide.  With the celestial tube the telescope is 23 inches in length.  With the longer terrestrial tube it measures 31 inches.  What is amazing about this offering is that the telescope comes complete in its original hand dovetailed African mahogany box with a lovely grain in original finish.  It is has both hook and eye closures, original lock and all components.  It measures 21 ¼ inches long by 6 inches wide and 4 inches high.  The overall condition of this entire presentation is nothing short of amazing.  We find no flaws whatsoever.   The box is the best we have ever seen!  This is without a doubt the finest telescope preserved in original condition we have offered in our 40 years.  Worthy of the most demanding collection public or private.  2900

Thomas P. Harris was a noted optician working in London in the mid-19th century.  He enjoyed the patronage of the Royal Family -- which speaks to the quality of his output.  His official address was 52 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London, where he began business in 1824.


box detail
in box



Order Info


17.30 TRADE CARD. Finely engraved 19th century American advertising trade card for the "National Line Steamships" with the colorful depiction of the clipper bowed S.S. ENGLAND under sail, flanked by a rope border emblazoned with flags of the United States and Britain. The reverse boasts "National Line, Passenger Steamship comprising twelve of the largest Ocean Steam Ships belonging to one company in the Atlantic Service..." Much information including a listing of of "Passage Rates" for which 1st Class Excursion is $120! The front of the card is signed "Hatch Lith. Co., NY" and measures 3 1/2 x 6 inches. Good condition with toning to the reverse and minor staining. Circa 1885. Was $195 NOW! 79


Order Info


15.23 SAILING SHIP CREW PHOTO. Original late 19th C. silver plate photograph depicting the entire crew assembled on deck in front of a massive square-rigged mast. Judging by the large number of crewmen and their uniforms this was a military ship. The officers are seated with the distinguished Captain front and center. Flanking him are his officers and a civilian in a white suit, perhaps a dignitary posing for the occasion. At least 2 women can be seen posing in the photo. Behind are approximately 100 sailors in the flat hats perched on stanchions, davits, one of the ship’s lifeboats and ventilators. All manner of blocks, tackle and lines surround the scene. One sailor can be seen holding a life ring with the visible letters “INC” perhaps preceded by a “K.” This is undoubtedly the ship’s name which is also visible but indistinct on several of the sailors’ hat ribbons. This large antique image measures 8 by 11 inches sight and is contained under glass in its original decorative oblong mat bearing the photographer’s signature “Nolken & Petersen, AARHUS.” It is surrounded by a fancy gilt liner housed in its original oak frame measuring 18 by 21 inches. Excellent overall condition noting some minor losses to the gilded liner. The photograph itself is perfect. . Was $295 NOW! 79


Order Info

 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.







Order Info

Back to Top