Digest>Archives> September 2002

Collecting Nautical Antiques

Some Unusual Recent Finds

By Jim Claflin


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United States Lighthouse Service Silver Napkin ...

Over the months our friends and clients seem to come up with a never-ending list of new finds. We never cease to be impressed by the items that we find were produced by various services for their vessels or stations. Like the Lighthouse Service table butler we discussed in a past column, we have recently found another item that reinforces the point that the Lighthouse Service was certainly a dignified organization. They constantly strove to provide the highest quality living conditions for shipboard officers and administration, in keeping with the highest traditions of the maritime services.

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United States Lighthouse Establishment tin “Dry ...

Shown is a United States Lighthouse Service Silver Napkin Ring. Such napkin rings were used to properly present napkins while dining in the Officer’s Mess. As you can imagine this was an item not for the average lighthouse keeper, but instead for the more elegant dining situations on the Lighthouse Tenders with the Lighthouse Inspector on board, or for the Administration. This beautiful item is silverplate and measures 3” x 1” oval, by 1” wide and is entirely of silver plated brass. The napkin ring bears the original stamped marking of the U.S. Lighthouse Service with “U S L H S” in 5/32” lettering. The inside is marked “WMCO” 0195 [silver plate].”The back is marked with the number “6” in 1/4” lettering. The only other similar item that I have seen was similarly marked with the number “5.” Possibly these numbers refer to the officer ranking on board, with number one for the Captain, 2 first mate, etc.?

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Close-up of brass name cartouche.

Another interesting item which Jeff Shook from the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy just showed us is a United States Lighthouse Establishment tin “Dry Red Lead” paint storage box. This scarce nickel tin paint storage box is a great example of an extremely rare style of storage container issued by the Light House Establishment for the storage of paint pigments. The side of box is marked “U. S. Light House Establishment Dry Red Lead” on two soldered on brass cartouch plates. This is the second such box that I have seen, the first being unpainted tin and marked: “U. S. Light House Establishment Green Paint.” The body of this box is painted a light green and is constructed of soldered tin with a hinged top cover. Inside has been nickel plated for durability and protection. A small handle protrudes from the front of the cover. The box measures 4 1/2” x 9 1/2”, by 5 1/2” high. These boxes are extremely scarce as most of this type of storage box found its way to area farms or barns when they were lost long ago and were used until they rusted out. This is a superb example, with almost no rust and in complete, solid condition. Thanks to Jeff for sending these photos in. The value on this interesting item would surely be in the $14-1800 range.

We continue this month with our listing of Edward Rowe Snow’s many titles. Over the next few months we will continue to complete this listing for you.

Is Our Weather Changing?

Secrets of the North Atlantic Islands 1950

The Mayflower, Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims

True Tales of Buried Treasure 1951

Forgotten Sea Tragedies

Great Gales and Dire Disasters 1952

True Tales of Pirates and Their Gold 1953

Amazing Sea Stories Never Told Before 1954

Famous Lighthouses of America 1955

Maine Date Book

The Boston Young Men’s Christian Union. C.1951

Lighthouse Date Book 1957, 1958

The Vengeful Sea 1956

New England Sea Drama

Legends of the New England Coast 1957

Great Sea Rescues and Tales of Survival 1953

Plates from Famous Lighthouses of New England. C.1945

A Tour of Massachusetts Bay [map in wraps]

Beacons of New England

Exploring Boston Bay

Piracy, Mutiny and Murder 1959

Down Massachusetts Bay

Next time, we will take a look some more unusual recent finds. Please continue to send in your questions on the subject or a photograph of an object that you need help dating or identifying. We will include the answer to a selected inquiry as a regular feature each month in our column.

Jim Claflin is a recognized authority on antiques of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, Life-Saving Service, Revenue Cutter Service and early Coast Guard. In addition to authoring and publishing a number of books on the subject, Jim is the owner of Kenrick A Claflin & Son Nautical Antiques. In business since 1956, he has specialized in antiques of this specialty since the early 1990’s. He may be contacted by writing to him at 1227 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602, or by calling 508-792-6627. You may also contact him by email: jclaflin@lighthouseantiques.net or visit his web site at www.lighthouseantiques.net

This story appeared in the September 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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