West Sea Company

New This Week:

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


WHAT IS IT?  Very heavy solid bronze hand-held instrument containing 2 separate glass vials on either side of a silvered scale marked from 0 - 7.5 centimeters and divided by millimeters.  It has a blackened turned wooden handle and a brass reservoir at the bottom held by a stout brass bolt running top to bottom .  It has an extra heavy “cannon-barrel-like” spout.  6 inches high by 7 inches wide.

The first customer who can specifically and definitively identify the purpose and use of this object will be given up to $100 in a West Sea credit on any single item.  It is the prerogative of our judges to accept the validity of any assessments received or dismiss them as guesses.  Results will be posted in future postings of NEW THIS WEEK.



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4.59  SAILOR’s SCRIMSHAW VALENTINE.   Extremely rare, possibly unique scrimshaw presentation in the form of 3 nested heart-shaped boxes hand-carved out of scarce sea turtle shell.  These lovely examples of the talented whaleman’s love for his sweetheart back home exhibit the exquisite craftsmanship produced by the finest producers of this American folk art form.  These amazing shell boxes are carved to exacting detail with paper thin walls and tight fitting lids.  The rich, polished surfaces emanate a sheen which is pleasing to the eye and soothing to the touch.  The largest of the 3, the outer box, measures 3 ¼ inches high by 2 ¾ inches wide and 1 ¼ inch thick.  The smallest, inner box, measures 2 1/8 inches high by 1 ¾ inches wide4 and ¾ inch thick.  Incredibly, all are in absolutely perfect original condition!  One of the rarest scrimshaw finds we have ever been fortunate enough to acquire.  Without a doubt, museum quality of the highest order, yet very reasonably priced.  This should be in the New Bedford Whaling Museum! 565

The loggerhead sea turtle, largest of its species, was prized by whalemen not only for its big, lovely reddish brown carapace, ideal scrimshaw, but for its meat, which offered the sailors a fresh alternative to salt pork, dried beans, hard tack and the occasional fish or shark.

outer box

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8.22   TRIMMETER   Genuine early 1900’s ship’s instrument used to compute the loading of cargo on early merchant ships.  This complicated device of English manufacture is signed on the maker’s label, “The “UNIT “ Trim Indicator PATENT John Lillie & Gillie Ltd. North Shields. No. 1269.”  As the name implies, this unusual instrument showed the Chief Mate (Super Cargo) the fore and aft orientation of his vessel during the loading and unloading of freight.   As such it obviated the need for the officer to physically view the ship’s fore and aft draft readings known as “trim.”  This was cleverly accomplished by the internal glass tube filled with a combination of mercury and immiscible red alcohol backed by a sliding ivorene scale.  The scale is marked “FEET BY THE STERN” and “EVEN KEEL” divided by half foot increments from -13 to +2, and is further marked “SCALE FOR SHIP 640 FEET LONG.”  Because the tube contains mercury and alcohol, it is affected by temperature.  So to these ends a small mercury thermometer graces the presentation in the upper left, reading from 30 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and signed “John Lillie & Gillie, Ltd., North shields.”  Accordingly the sliding scale can be adjusted for temperature by means of the knurled Bakelite knob on the right.  A small indicator points to the varying temperature indications on the scale, 50 – 110 F, with the notation “Set Scale To Temperature.”  This handsome ship’s relic measures 18 inches wide by 9 ¼ inches high and 2 ½ inches deep.  It is made of thick, solid teak using high quality machine-dovetailed construction.  It has 3 solid brass hanging brackets and another brass tab for fine adjustment of its position on the bulkhead of the cargo office. 795  Special PackagingBack to Top


temperature knob


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18.94  FIGURAL GIMBAL LAMP.  Very rare, ship’s cabin lamp with the desirable aspect of being decorative as well as functional.  This handsome lantern is of English manufacture and is all brass construction.  It features a removable oil sump (reservoir) within a weighted brass body slung in gimbals.  The body of the lamp is nicely tapered, ending in a heavy solid sphere at the bottom.  The top is fitted with a classic pop-up “star” burner with wick advance knob impressed ”SHERWOODS LTD. B’HAM.”  This type of burner tilts back on a hinge to expose the wick for servicing.  It threads into the font with a positive fit and holds the crystal chimney by means of a small, knurled set screw.  The font (sump) fits nicely within the lamp body which seats snugly in the gimbal ring supported by the unique brass bracket in the form of a stylized dolphin.  The fine detail in the casting of the dolphin bracket and its shell back indicate early manufacture and not some later knock off.  The stout cast brass back has 4 holes for mounting to the bulkhead.  At the bottom of the lamp body is a heavy solid brass sphere which, by its heft, assures the proper balancing of the gimbal in a seaway.  This lamp itself measures 7 ¾ inches high by 5 inches wide at the widest, and protrudes 8 ½ inches from the bulkhead.  The entire assembly measures 12 inches high inclusive of the hand-blown crystal chimney.  Extra nice original condition with absolutely no material flaws.  The original lacquer shows wear in several locations and the surfaces have acquired a good patina evidencing years of actual use at sea.  A real rarity in marine lamps.  Only the second such example we have offered in our 38 years!  585

burner detail

burner open

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