West Sea Company

New This Week:

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

4.88   SCRIMSHAW LETTER OPENER.  Especially nice 19th century whaleman-made letter opener of ivory with a hard tropical "island wood" handle having 3 segments of ivory mortised and pinned together with 2 sterling silver rivets.  This utilitarian scrimshaw tool has a carved bulbous handle, carefully sculpted with an acorn finial on the end.  Showing great craftsmanship, the handle is attached to the blade with a tight mortised joint along its length.  The ivory "blade" is approximately 1/16th of an inch thick, terminating in a rounded tip.  It measures 4 1/2 inches long by ¾ inches in width.  The overall length is just shy of 8 inches.  This lovely example of sailor folk art is in outstanding original, still functional, condition.  Excellent "contrasty" look.  WAS $295 NOW! 179


Order Info

7.98  ANTIQUARIAN REFERENCE BOOK.  William Brady, "The Kedge Anchor or Young Sailors' Assistant," 1872, D. Appleton & Company, New York.  Hard cloth cover, 393 pages, very finely illustrated with black and white engravings throughout.   A wealth of nautical knowledge!  This highly instructive "how to" book intended for the apprentice seaman has no less than 544 separate entries detailing various forms of seamanship from ropework, steering, navigation, deck seamanship, sail handling, boats, anchoring, weather, gunnery and watch standing to numerous tables showing strengths of lines and cables, allowable quantities of stores, etc., etc.  At the time, steam was just beginning to find its way into the merchant service.  So this book covers it all from the perspective of sailing ship seamanship of that era.  Good overall condition.  The cover and binding are sound.  Pages are complete with no damage and only expected slight toning from age.  An absolute must for the serious nautical historian with insights and lessons learned at the time.  150 years old!  A literal "anchor" in a well rounded nautical library.  189

Provenance:  Ex. "Michael Rupp & Co., Chronometer Manufacturers, New York."

plate 1

plate 2
plate 3

plate 4

Order Info

9.97/13.91  BUTTERFIELD SUN DIAL.  An astounding offering!  This is a late 16th or very early 17th century cased pocket sun dial of the type known as a Butterfield dial, invented by Britisher turned Frenchman Michael Butterfield circa 1690.  This stunning surviving example is all brass made by "LeMaire Fils, Paris" as beautifully-engraved just below the compass.  The very early form compass needle rides over the engraved compass rose indicating the cardinal and intercardinal points of the compass marked N, S, and O, with the north point indicated by a fleur-de-lis.  The dial is constructed with a hinged gnomon, the angle of which can be adjusted for latitude as indicated by the beak of a bird on a scale reading from 40 to 60 divided in single degree increments.  The upright gnomon is spring-loaded and will lie flat on the body of dial on either side. The dial plate has 3 beautifully-engraved chapter rings for latitudes of 43, 46, 49, and on the extreme periphery 52 degrees, these encompassing the area between Gibraltar and the Shetland Islands.  The time indications in whole hours are marked in Roman numerals from 4 A.M. to 8 P.M. divided by 15 minute increments.   The reverse of the dial is engraved with at least 23 latitudes of prominent European cities of the time.  Incredibly this superb instrument comes in its original felt-lined wooden case with its durable fish skin cover,  all of which are in a remarkable original state of near pristine  preservation!  The octagonal dial measures 3 ¼ inches long by 2 5/8 inches wide, fitting neatly in its case measuring 3 ½ inches long by 3 inches wide.  The hinged lid of the case closes with a button latch, further secured by 2 hook and eye closures.  A remarkable scientific instrument in unheard of original condition over 300 years old!  Museum quality of the first order. 2879

An identical dial signed "Le Maire Fils A Paris" and dated 1740 is shown on page 146 of Harriet Wynter's and Anthony Turner's landmark reference work "Scientific Instruments," 1975,  Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.  That dial is missing its original case.

Michael Butterfield (1635 - 1724) was a British clockmaker who moved to Paris around 1663.  He worked at the royal court and was appointed chief engineer to King Louis XIV.  He opened a shop selling precision instruments at Rue Neuve-des-Fossés, Saint Germain in 1677.   He sold all forms of sundials.  But his most popular was the small travelling dial with the adjustable gnomon having a bird motif and three chapter rings.  Fashionably it became known as the Butterfield dial.  The basic design of this dial was known prior to Butterfield's design.  But his was quickly embraced and manufactured by other instrument makers in Paris and beyond.  Among Butterfield's famous clients was the Russian Czar Peter the Great, who visited his shop in 1717 and ordered a great quantity of gilt copper dials.

case bottom

in case


Order Info


16.67  IVORY COMPACT.  Mid-1800's or earlier lady's traveling make-up case in the form of an oval make-up compact.  This beautifully constructed compact is made of ivory and silver with a very nice gilt brass hinge cast with a detailed scene depicting a winged griffin, pot of flowers and an attendant monkey!  The top, side and bottom of this compact are constructed of thin ivory beautifully embellished with recurring scalloped designs and oval scribes.   3 ½ by 2 ½ inches and 1/2 inch thick.  Interesting old repair on one edge.  A very nice early piece! 

ex.  Sotheby's Parke Bernet

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



Order Info

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.


Order Info

17.30  EARLY LINER TRADE CARD.  Third quarter of the 1800's passenger liner advertisement extolling the virtues of the 3-masted steam/sail S.S. ENGLAND of the National Line Steamships.  This colorful lithograph shows a port broadside view of the huge 4,900 ton vessel as it plows through the sea under shortened sail.  It clearly show the American ensign flying from the  foremast, National Line's house flag from the main and the American ensign at the stern.  This very detail image show passengers on deck and deck details.  The image is encircled by a rope border with pulleys and is signed lower right "The Hatch Litho Co. 32 & 34 Vesy St. N.Y."
The reverse details the routes between Queenstown, Liverpool, London and New York.  Rates and accommodations are specified, ranging from "Excurson" at $120 to "Steerage"  at $26 "Being $2.00 cheaper than most other lines."  The card measures 3 ½ by 6 inches.  It is in sound condition noting significant toning, particularly on the back, from being mounted.  WAS $195 NOW! 49 Shipping FREE


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