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6.47  LIFE SAVING CANNON.   Very impressive World War II vintage or earlier cannon used by the Coast Guard (and previously the U.S. Lifesaving Service) to rescue crewmen on vessels stranded on inaccessible shores.  Also known as a line throwing cannon, this apparatus was made by the “SCULLER Safety Corp. No. 1561, 122 Broad Street New York” as stamped on the oval brass maker’s plate on top of the breach.  This muzzle loader has a solid steel barrel 28 inches long with a barrel diameter of 3 5/8 inches and a bore of 2 ½ inches.  The end of the muzzle is stamped with the matching serial number “1561” and the safety inspector’s initials “J.R.H.”  The barrel is encased by a thick bronze sleeve surrounding the midsection.  It rests on its original cast iron carriage 26 inches long by 12 ½ inches wide.  The entire assembly measures 32 inches long and weighs 180 pounds.  The breech end of the cannon is attached to the carriage by a thick, round fulcrum which pivots between two brass trunnions.   For elevation the carriage is equipped with a “T” bar which fits into any of 3 successively higher holes.  The cannon is complete with its rarely found percussion firing system marked, “COSTON SUPPLY CO NEW YORK.”  It takes a .32 caliber blank activated by a lanyard which releases a spring-loaded firing pin.  Included in this offering is the original wooden ram rod 32 inches long and an authentic lifesaving projectile embossed “CROSBY-LAUGHLIN” and stamped “U.S.L.S.S.” which is 28 inches long and weighs 18 pounds.  This cannon is in outstanding, near pristine condition, fully complete and functional* as it was made over 80 years ago. Price Request Special PackagingBack to Top

Ex. Collection Contra Costa Historical Society, Antioch, California.

In his landmark book entitled “The Lifesaving Guns of David Lyle,” J.P. Barnett, 1974, South Bend Replicas, Inc., the author discusses the firing mechanism on pages 64-66.  The “marine type” was developed in 1936 and became the standard throughout the Coast Guard.  Its use was widespread prior to World War II and became required of all guns manufactured after April 1944.  A similar projectile is shown on page 68.  A similar gun is shown on page 70.  On page 73 the results of firing such a cannon using 3 ounces of black powder at elevations of 20 – 30 degrees are shown.  Ranges from 800 to 924 feet were recorded.

*  IMPORTANT!  West Sea Company disavows any responsibility for the results of attempting to fire this cannon.   Please see the CAUTION disclaimer.





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8.62   MATCHED PAIR SAILING SHIP PORTHOLES.   Very hard to find!  An identical set of solid brass portholes from a 19th century sailing ship!  These diminutive ports have thick glass windows 7 inches in diameter encased in heavy brass rims.  Each rim is hinged to open and close securely with a butterfly nut.  Remarkably, the ports retain their original nuts and bolts which secured them to the wooden ship’s hull.  They measure 13 3/8 inches long by 10 inches high.  Excellent original condition.  Of most importance is the glass.  These are perfect.  The brass shows the expected heavy wear and patina expected of authentic marine fittings of this age.  Truly rare!SOLD





10.38  HARD HAT DIVING PHOTOGRAPH.  Genuine World War II era black and white photograph (with the telltale greenish tinge) depicting a hard hat diver being readied for descent by his attendants.  This graphic image clearly portrays the difficulties of deep sea diving at that time.  This is an official U.S. Navy photograph, so it can rightfully identified as a diver in U.S. Navy Mark V dress.  A classic image, not a contemporary reprint, in prefect original condition measuring 8 ¾ by 11 ¼ sight.  59

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15.31  LAUNCHING PHOTO.   Important late 19th century albumen photograph of the launch of the American gunboat USS NASHVILLE by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in 1895.  This handsome, very clear albumen photograph is mounted on its original stiff card signed “HART, Photo 139 Sands St., Brooklyn.”  The photo itself is signed in the photographer’s own hand “Hart “There She goes” (Nashville.)”  Below the image the card is boldly printed with the inscription “Double Launch, Newport News, October 19th, 1895, U.S. Gunboats “NASHVILLE” and “WWILMINGTON.”  NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBUILDING AND DRYDOCK COMPANY.”  The perfect image measures 9 by 7 inches sight and the large mounted card is 14 ¾ by 12 ¼ inches.  An accompanying early photocopy (literally) of a letter to the original owner from the Library of Congress is dated 1957 which indicates this important image is lacking in that prestigious collection.  The condition of this original photograph over 120 years old is absolutely as good as it gets!   289

The USS NASHVILLE (PG-7) was the only ship of its class ever built and one of the first ships which came to be known as “destroyers.”  Her classic 4 smokestack design was used well into 20th century construction of destroyers known as “4 Pipers.” She was laid down on August 9, 1894, launched on October 19, 1895 as depicted in this photograph and commissioned on August 19, 1897.   In her wartime service NASHVILLE was credited with firing the first shot of the Spanish American War when she encountered the Spanish merchantman BUENA VENTURA.  Subsequently NASHVILLE captured 4 Spanish ships during the war and assisted in cutting the important undersea Spanish communication telegraph cable at Cinefuegos, Cuba.

During World War I NASHVILLE was an escort ship for troop convoys in the Mediterranean.  After her war service she was decommissioned on October 29, 1918 and subsequently sold to J.L. BARR & Co. of Washington D.C. on October 20, 1921.

Enrique Hart, a professional marine photographer from New York produced hundreds of images of famous ships in and around the northeastern coast of the U.S. from 1890 to 1915.  His work, is displayed in numerous museums.  It is of the highest quality and eagerly sought after by knowledgeable collectors.



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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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