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


4.24    HUGE SCRIMSHAW BULL WHALE’s TOOTH.   Important, circa 1880, rare relief-carved sperm whale tooth depicting a walrus and a polar bear on an ice floe with an American whaleship in the background.  This beautifully-executed example is carved within an oval vignette on the front of a massive old whale’s tooth which measure just shy of 8 inches long and weighs an ounce less than a 2 full pounds!  Carved scrimshaw is very rare, and this charming, highly detailed example is a very scarce product of American Arctic whaling conducted in the 4th quarter of the 19th century.   A splendid, most rare example direct from the family of a whaleman on board the whaling bark ANDREW J. HICKS out of San Francisco.  6995

Not available in California.  Shipped from Massachusetts.


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11.46   SAILOR’s WATCH FOB.  Third quarter of the 19th century pocket watch fob fashioned by a sailor using interconnected chain links carve from whalebone and baleen.  In an amazing display of skill the sailor manages to link the two materials together in a continuous chain with virtually no sign of how he coupled the two dissimilar components together!   Upon very close scrutiny under high magnification it can be seen that the more flexible of the materials, the baleen, actually has imperceptible joints on one edge of each link.  Each link is precisely carved terminating in one end with a button holder for securing to the wearer’s garment and the other a folding clasp to hold the watch bow.  Whereas most sailors of the period did not wear vests and did not carry watches, this item was likely the work of a ship’s officer or the Captain himself.  13 ¾ inches long and in astonishingly fine original conditon.  Certainly a rare functional form of “working scrimshaw” in its own right, which the wearer obviously displayed with pride.  395

Not available in California.  Shipped from Massachusetts.

button holder

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12.38  EARLY BOATSWAIN’s CALL.  Civil War era or earlier, merchant seaman’s silver bos’n pipe complete with its finely macraméd cotton lanyard.  This small, nearly miniature, pipe has a flat keel supporting a curved stem with double raised mouth piece and two double supports along its length.  It terminates in a barrel-shaped oval bowl decorated with an embossed fouled anchor on each side.  It measures 3 ¾ inches long and the bowl is 7/8 inches wide.  The handsome ropework lanyard is an indication of the sailor’s proficiency at knotwork with 3 separate examples of MacNamara work displayed.   When blown the call produces a loud, high pitched shrill tone.  Very nice old original patina (which could be polished to a brilliant silver luster if desired).  395

pipe reverse

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13.04   VERY EARLY CHRONOMETER.    An exceptional example of the chronometer maker’s art which soon followed the important developments in the science of marine horology pioneered by John Harrison in the mid-1750s.  Dating to about 1805, this chronometer has many features indicative of its early production and design.  The beautiful silvered brass dial is engraved in cursive script Finer & Nowland London, TWO DAY CHRONOMETER No. 333.”  It has bold Roman numerals swept by spade hands over a minute chapter with a subsidiary seconds bit just above the VI.  This rare survivor from the early days of sail and the infancy of chronometer making has a typical domed crystal over a very small dial – both indicative from that old period.  It measures a mere 3 inches in diameter.  The extra large flat gimbal ring is telling of its age as is the very unusual gimbal lock mechanism.  The fittings suspending the chronometer in the gimbal and its box are also very atypical.  By 1820 virtually all chronometers had a winding indicator.  This example has none.  A further indication of its early age is the fact that the lower box has a cloth dust barrier as opposed to the later (standard) knife edge of wood or brass found on nearly all 19th century and later chronometers.  As yet another testament to its age, the movement of this chronometer has pioneering chronometer maker John Arnold’s Z-type balance.  This feature was carried over by his son, J.R. Arnold until about 1810, when a more conventional “modern” balance was incorporated into his production, extending into his 1830 partnership with J.E. Dent.  Many makers of this early period embraced the successful Arnold design, among them Paul Phillip Barraud.  So it is difficult to determine whether this chronometer was made by Arnold himself or the partnership.  Either way it is early!  The typical early plain mahogany box in 3 tiers with lock and key and brass drop handles, measures 7 ¼ inches square by 6 ¾ inches high.  It is in excellent cosmetic condition, yet shows its great age.  The chronometer itself is a strong runner, keeping excellent time considering.  Complete with both the original ratcheted chronometer winding key and skeleton box lock key.  A rare gem guaranteed to be well over 200 years old.   A world class museum piece!  SOLD

This chronometer comes complete with service ticket and rating certificate from the respected,  very last English chronometer makers and repairers, Thomas Mercer, Gloucester, England, late of  St. Albans.  It is dated 12th November 1985.  The rating certificate states “This is to certify that 2 Day Chronometer by Finer & Nowland no 333 has been repaired by us on November 1985.  DAILY RATE +.30 sec per day, Remarks with lever escapement.”

In 1805 legendary chronometer makers the likes of J.R. Arnold, Thomas Earnshaw, and Paul Phillip Barraud were plying their trade in England while makers like Pierre LeRoy and Henri Motel were making navigational timekeepers in France, and Ferdinand  Berthoud in Switzerland.  This little gem was made in the center of that era and shares many of the characteristics employed by these great makers.





 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.  127 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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