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4.37  BODKIN/PIPE TAMPER.  Excellent whaleman-made sailor’s bodkin (sewing punch) with the dual purpose of being a pipe tamper.  This functional example of scrimshaw was turned from the dense panbone of a sperm whale.  It was then meticulously cross hatched on the end and decorated with red and green scribe bands.  2 7/8 inches long and ½ inch in diameter.  Outstanding condition.  An especially elegant form.  SOLD


5.47  U.S.L.H.E. BUTTONS.  A rare matched pair of authentic lighthouse keeper’s uniform buttons from the last century or earlier.  These gold-washed brass buttons bear the letters “U.S.L.H.E.” in high relief on a textured background.  The back of each button is marked “WANAMAKER & BROWN .  PHILA PA .”  They are 1 inch in diameter each and are in excellent condition.  pr/89

The firm of Wanamaker & Brown was founded at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 as “clothiers & furnishers for army, navy & state guard.”  It continued through 1926.  (Bruce Bazelon & William McGuinn, “A Directory of American Military Goods Dealers & Makers 1785-1915,” 1999, REF Publishing Manassas, Virginia).

In 1789 the United States Lighthouse Establishment (USLHE) was created and operated under the Department of The Treasury.  All U.S. lighthouses which were previously privately owned at the time were transferred to the government.  The Cape Henry Lighthouse on the approaches to the Chesapeake Bay was the first lighthouse built by the USLHE.

The relationship of the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment and the U.S. Lighthouse Service is commonly misunderstood.  A third entity, the Lighthouse Board further confuses the designations.  From 1820 until 1852 Stephen Pleasonton was the sole head of the lighthouse system.  He was assigned the “care and superintendence of the lighthouse establishment” by the Secretary of the Treasury and given the title of “General Superintendent of Lights.”  In 1852 the single administrator was replaced by a “Light-House Board” consisting of 9 members.  But the Light-House Board did not replace the Light House Establishment in the 58 years it existed.

The name “Lighthouse Service” was never an official title of the agency.  In 1910 the “Bureau of Lighthouses” was created within the U.S. Department of Commerce.  The term “Lighthouse Service” was the more commonly used vernacular than was “Bureau of Lighthouses.”  But that name was never officially designated.   Nevertheless, many structures and lighthouse implements from the “Bureau” era carry the letters “USLHS.”   When the “Bureau” was created, the word “Establishment” fell out of favor, although it can be found in official documents after 1910.  

Summary - The term “Establishment” in referring to the system from 1789 until the creation of the Bureau of Lighthouses in 1910 is officially correct. From there on, the term “Service” is the most appropriate.


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10.98  DIVING HELMET.  Genuine early World War II era deep sea diving helmet of English manufacture.  This 6 bolt, 3 light hard hat diving helmet is all copper with brass fittings and original tinned finish.  The breastplate is boldly embossed “C.E. HEINKE & Co LTD LONDON. S.E. 1” and is stamped with the serial number “470.”  The bonnet has a threaded faceplate stamped “116456.”  The two oval sidelights have heavy brass grills protecting their thick glass ports.  The left front (diver’s) is equipped with a functional spit cock valve.  The rear of the helmet has 4 fittings.  On the neck ring is a pivoting bar which securely locks the bonnet into a corresponding slot on the breastplate.  Directly to the rear is the air inlet goose neck with its operational non-return valve and cap nut.  The telephone goose neck next to it has a large hexagonal cap nut marked “TELEPHONE.”  Forward of it on the diver’s right is the air exhaust with 9-pointed star valve.  Both sides of the helmet have a substantial hook for attaching lines or suspending weights.  Inside the bonnet are 3 air ducts which channel venting air over the ports.  A Bakelite speaker is on the diver’s right for communicating with the surface.  A chin button on his left operates his microphone.  Indicative of its age the helmet contains its old original cloth-insulated wiring.  Both the face plate and the neck ring retain their original leather O-rings.  The breastplate has both original brales marked “HEINKE” and “FRONT” and “BACK” respectively.  All 6 original lug nuts are present.  There are 4 riveted posts on the breast plate: two front and back, for further attachments.  The helmet measures 13 inches wide by 19 ½ inches tall and is 17 inches front to back inclusive of the goosenecks.  It weighs 47 pounds.  Outstanding original condition throughout.  We have been handling diving helmets for over 45 years.  Without a doubt, this pristine example is the best we have had the pleasure of offering.  HOLD

In his landmark reference book “Helmets of the Deep,” 1988, author Leon Lyons depicts a 3 light, 6 bolt Heinke helmet number 500 on page 56.  Then on page 39 he pictures a 3 light helmet made by Siebe Gorman & Co. as being “R. H. Davis Patent six bolt helmet.  This model was chosen as the official helmet for the British Navy.”  Independent research indicates that Heinke  numbers of this configuration began in 1938 and ended with number 546 in 1959.

left right

rear rear detail

interior interior detail


16.37  P.O.W. STRAWWORK BOX.  Circa 1800 pocket “personals box” as made by French prisoners of war in British prisons during the Napoleonic Wars between Britain and French in the late 18th century.  This classic example is beautifully made of straw of varying colors, meticulously fitted and overlaid on a stout cardboard core.  The precision with which it was fabricated is unbelievable!  The two oval halves join tightly together with a firm press fit.  The box measures 3 5/8 inches long by 2 ½ inches wide and 1 ¼ inches thick.  Condition is remarkable for a delicate object of this type over 220 years old.  There are just a couple of very minor losses.  Overall it must be rated at 99% complete.  A great little example of the famed P.O.W. work.  Included with this purchase is an original copy of the “Lloyd Collection of Napoleonic Prisoner-of-War Artifacts” illustrated catalog.  239

(See item 7.38)

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9.28  3-LEGGED DIVIDERS.  Rare, original set of 3-legged dividers as used by mariners and cartographers in the 1800’s and earlier.  This superb set is unsigned but is likely of German or English origin.  It is absolutely the finest quality ever made.  The body is German silver (non-metallic) with polished steel tips.  The apex of the 3 limbs is a complicated pivot.  Two are like a regular pair of hand dividers with splined joints opening and closing in a straight line.  The addition of a third limb connected by a ball and socket allows the instrument to describe a multidirectional plane necessary in measuring the curvature of a globe.  The quality of its precision cannot be overstated.  The joints are smooth, tight and beautifully-finished.  Speaking to its age, the ball joint has a small washer with 2 telltale holes for tightening, rather than a screw slot.  Such a feature is indicative of 19th century and earlier manufacture.  In addition, the instrument has a double knurled thumb screw which, when tightened, locks all three prongs in position.  A wonderfully clever complication. 5 ¼ inches long by 1 ¼ inches wide at the pivots.  Fabulous original condition.  The best!  Price Request


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9.31  PRECISION SCALE WEIGHTS.  Full set of balancing scale weightsused for determining the exact weight of precious substances such as gold, diamonds and medicine.  This pristine set contains 8 identified brass weights marked from one through 50 grams, with duplicate 2 and 10 gram weights.  Then there is a cut black glass tray which contains thin metal strips ranging from 1 milligram up to 500 milligrams.  The set is complete with its original brass tweezers.   The total contents are neatly mounted in the substantial mahogany box with dark blue felt liner and brass hook closure.  The set is signed by the maker as stamped into the case “F. HOPKIN & SON, JERSEY CITY, NJ.”   5 1/8 inches long by 3 inches wide and 1 ½ inches thick.  It is amazing that this set has remained entirely intact in such good condition for over 100 years! Price Request



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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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