Whaling Archive, ca. 1840

Value (2005) | $20,000 Insurance

It was my grandmother's. It sat in a drawer in her room. She inherited it from somebody, but it had to be from my grandmother's side of the family. Lawrence-- which is John Lawrence's last name, and the person who wrote the journal, and was the whaler. It's a ship's log from 1843 to 1847 of a whaling voyage. And there are these various items that have always been around the family that have got his initials and everything else on it.

In the 19th century, whale oil illuminated America. It's so rare to have all these personal effects along with a journal. We have a portrait miniature of the captain--John Lawrence. It's a beautiful miniature of this dashing 19th century captain. We have a piece of scrimshaw, a snuffbox and a rib cane that was carved most likely while they were on their journey out to sea. And then finally we have this remarkable journal of the ship as it set sail around the world. The ship was called the Phoenix and it sailed out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. New Bedford and Nantucket were the whaling capitals of America. This journal was written in 1839, 1840 and 1841, which is really early and while whaling was this booming industry. It's incredibly annotated and illustrated and it reads like a novel. These stamps here indicate how many whales the ship would have caught. It's illustrated and shows other ships. It also, very interestingly here we are in California, and it talks about docking in San Diego.

San Diego, correct.

And also it illustrates how many days at sea and how long and hard it was to catch whales. As a collection I would insure it for no less than $20,000.


It's a wonderful window into 19th century whaling.

Appraisal Details

New York, NY
Appraised value (2005)
$20,000 Insurance
Los Angeles, CA (August 13, 2005)

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