West Sea Company

11. Sailor Folk Art

Prices in U.S. Dollars are in GREENBack




11.04  P.O.W. GAMEBOX.  Authentic late 18th or very early 19th century "game casket" made by French prisoners in British prisons during the Napoleonic Wars.  This fine, unusually large example is constructed entirely of beef bone and wood, with colored paper and even genuine gold foil!  The box, in the form of a 4-poster bed with bone columns, is finely constructed of pine with pinned and dowelled fittings.  Overlaying the wooden structure the entire surface is covered by meticulously carved bone panels done with incredible detail.  These are affixed in the classic manner with scores of metal rivets!  The sliding lid is "domed" and decorated with reticulated bone panels overlying green paper and two "clubs" of gold.  All four sides of the box are decorated in a similar manner with "sashes" and recurring designs.  The interior of the box is divided into 3 compartments.  The largest houses a full set of 55 double nines bone domino pieces!  The second holds hand-painted bone playing cards of which there are more than 25 pieces.  The third compartment holds 2 pairs of bone die.  This rare set measures 9 inches log, 3 ½ inches wide and 2 ¼ inches high.  The entire presentation is in a remarkable state of original preservation considering the delicacy of its construction and its 200 + years.  2295



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11.65   PATRIOTIC EAGLE CARVING.  Splendid, incredibly detailed medallion of a spread wind eagle carved from a coconut shell!  This superb little carving depicts the sailors' skills at their finest.  Known for producing scrimshaw of unbelievable beauty, this folk art medium rivals the artistry of engraving and carving ivory.  The eagle is shown in high relief with a sunburst banner enclosed by an arched foliate floral arch above.   The detail is exquisite and bears scrutiny under magnification.   Whereas scrimshaw is typically associated with marine mammal ivory and materials found aboard ship and/or in the whaling grounds, this example is clearly from the tropics where the bulk or scrimshaw in the 19th century was produced.   2 ½ inches wide by 3 ½ inches tall.  Excellent, untouched, really amazing, original condition.  179



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11.63  SHIP IN A BOTTLE.  Very nice early 1900's ship in a bottle diorama depicting a large 4-masted bark passing a seaside town.  This classic example of sailor's folk art was made in the traditional way with lines rove through (not glued or tied) masts and spars.  The ship has a carved wooden hull with 3 deck houses, raised poop and foc'sle and flies the British ensign.  It plies a greenish-blue putty sea with at least 6 buildings on shore in the background.  Nearer to it is a lighthouse with keeper's quarters.  The entire presentation is housed in an early glass whiskey bottle with cork closure.  The bottle exhibits unusual heft due to its heavy construction. The original cork closure is sealed with sealing wax.  What is particularly desirable about this offering is that it comes with its original hand-carved wooden display stand.   The stand, made of old pine in its original finish, is delightful.  It exhibits the old variegated surface (alligatoring) which collectors seek.  It measures 5 by 11 ½ inches on its base.  The bottle is 10 inches long by 3 ¾ inches in diameter.  Outstanding original condition.  The bottle is clear and bright.  The colors are rich.  About 100 years old!   395


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11.63  RARE SEA BAG LOCK.  Very scarce 19th century sailor macraméd sea bag closure.  This unique device was used to rove through the grommets of a sailor’s canvas sea bag and lock it shut.  This decorative example was obvious made of pride by the experienced seaman.  It is very similar to the highly prized see chest beckets of the era, consisting of heavy duty woven leather and braided cotton which accommodate a brass pin with a small padlock closure on the end.  This offering is complete with the original and functional lock and key!.  It measures 4 ¾ inches wide and 4 inches high exclusive of the lock.  Much rarer than traditional sea bag beckets which are currently commanding very high prices from collectors at prices of $600 and above.  A great example of functional sailor artistry.  395


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11.57  SHIP IN A BOTTLE.  Extra nice turn-of-the last-century ship in a bottle depicting a 3-masted bark flying the French flag from its after mast.  This beautifully detailed example has a carved solid wooden hull plying a wavy green putty sea.  The focs’le and poop deck have detailed life lines.  The deck has two houses, the forward house has two life boats on top and its Charlie Noble issuing smoke.  The masts and spars are nearly to scale.  The standing rigging is made in the traditional way with the lines being rove through the wooden components.  Of particular note, this bottle diorama has a charming little tug boat on its port side forward belching very realistic smoke from its stack.   Perhaps the most desirable feature of this example is the wonderful clarity of its molded glass whiskey bottle embossed “ONE QUART.”  The bottom has additional markings which may indicate a date of 1894.   The bottle is stoppered with a cork and sealed with blue sealing wax.  11 ¼ inches long by 3 ½ inches in diameter.  One of the better ships in bottles we have encountered in the last several years.  795



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11.58 CARVED COCONUT.  Unique, mid-1800’s or earlier, sailor-carved coconut from the South Pacific.  This great example has precise meticulously-carved geometrical designs over its entire surface.   The absolutely exacting designs speak of an incredibly-skilled craftsman.  This type of “horn” was often used to carry black powder.  There is no evidence here to suggest that was its function.  More so, it was the work of a gifted sailor intended to impress.  5 by 4 inches.  Perfect original condition.  Worth much more!  396



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11.56  BOS’N PIPE with LANYARD.   Genuine early 1900’s sterling silver boatswain’s pipe. This authentic American "call" consists of a large round bowl attached to a gradually tapering pipe which terminates in a flared mouthpiece.  The pipe is affixed to a reinforced shank or "keel" which is impressed "STERLING" on the side.  A suspension loop in the keel retains a fancy sailor-macraméd lanyard which was worn around the sailor's neck as part of his dress uniform. This bos'n call was crafted by a skilled silversmith with a telling mortise joint on the bottom of the shank and a seamless, finely tapering tube.  It measures 5 1/2 inches in length and is in perfect condition and produces a loud, shrill tone.  The lanyard is made of braided cotton and measures 24 inches long fully extended.  295  

HISTORY of the BOATSWAIN'S CALL.

The Call has its beginnings in the days of the English Crusades, 1248 A.D., as a method of alerting troops to arms.  Documented in 1485 A.D., the call was used as an honored badge of rank, then being worn by the Lord High Admiral of England.  Undoubtedly it was worn because it was used as a method of passing orders, and therefore signified authority.  When the Lord High Admiral, Sir Edward Howard, was killed in action off Brest in 1513 while commanding French Galleys, a "Whistle of Honour" was presented to him posthumously by the Queen of France.  From about that time onward the call was no longer used as a badge of rank, reverting to its original use as a method of passing orders only.  About 1671 the name Call was well established, lasting to the present day.  In the U.S. Navy the call is often referred to as a Boatswain's Pipe


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11.55  CASED DOMINO SET.  Classic 19th century sailor-made game set in the form of double 6’s dominos housed in their original machine dove-tailed hardwood box with sliding lid.   This perfect complete set of 28 pieces is constructed of whalebone and ebony laminated together with brass pins.  Each gaming piece is beautifully hand-detailed and measures 1 ¾ inches long by 7/8 inches wide and 5/16 inches thick.  They are housed in the original box measuring 7 inches long by 2 ¼ inches wide and 2 inches thick.  Absolutely outstanding condition in all respects.  This set exhibits its age with no flaws.  The game pieces themselves are all perfect.  Priced to sell. 179


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11.75 SEAM RUBBER. Particularly well executed mid-19th hand held tool used by a sailor to crease a fold in sail cloth prior to stitching. This genuine sailmaker's seam rubber is fashioned from a single piece of oak with an octagonally-faceted shaft, tapered "blade" and octagonal rounded knob. The shaft is drilled through, presumably to accommodate a thong. Adding to its charm and identification as sailor folk art, the knob is inlaid with a lovely disc of mother-of-pearl. This scarce instrument is rich with wear and patina attesting to years of actual use aboard a sailing ship. 4 1/2 inches long. A very charming tangible example sailing history. 229



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11.49   DOMINO SET.   Full set of double sixes dominos, consisting of 28 pieces made of whale bone and rich mahogany.  Each piece consists of a slab of dense whalebone inset with black dots, blank through double six having the center divided by an incised red line.  The equal size pieces measure 1 by 2 inches and are 5/16 inches thick.  Excellent original condition showing good age.  A $250 value, these are bargain-priced at only 95

A similar smaller, and inferior set of dominos has been offered for sale on eBay with a "Buy It Now" price of $200.

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11.47  EARLY NAVAL CANNON MODEL.  Splendid Civil War era sailor-made model of a much earlier 18th century Naval gun.  This incredibly realistic miniature cannon has a very heavy, solid brass barrel with integrally-cast trunnions, decorative turnings and a bulbous breach ball.  The muzzle exhibits a very smooth bore with a 3/8 inch diameter.   The stout barrel is mounted to a classic gun carriage of dense, old best mahogany.  The carriage is supported on 4 charming carved wooden wheels in red ochre paint mounted on hardwood axles.  The front of the carriage is equipped with two separate rope stays with brass fasteners.  Cleverly, the ropes are macraméd in such a way as to absorb shock from the recoil of the gun.  To these ends, the back of the cannon has two wooden wedges for placement under the rear wheels to minimize recoil.  The lines and attachments are done in a most seamanlike manner with tight serving on each.  A solid ebony breech block is present to properly elevate the gun by wedging the breach atop the carriage.  This realistic, superbly detailed model comes complete with a ramrod on the right side of the carriage supported by two carved wooden “shield” brackets.  The left side has a decorative wooden oval inlaid with a circular disc similar to the wheels.  The barrel itself measures exactly 7 3/16 inches long and 1 5/8 inches in diameter at the widest.  The carriage is 4 ½ inches wide overall.  Fully extended the components measure 17 inches long overall.  Condition is outstanding and original in all respects with a great patina exhibiting age and careful respect.   While the touch hole is contiguous with the barrel, we do not recommend firing.  This is the finest such antique cannon model of its type we have ever seen.  We grudgingly relinquish it from our personal collection for a price of less than what we paid for it over 20 years ago!  475


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11.45   EXCEPTIONAL CARVED FRAME.   Beautifully- carved and inlaid picture frame made from a single panel of rich African mahogany in the form of a ship’s lifering.  This especially nice presentation features marguetry butterflies made of varietal woods inlaid on the left and right of the ring.  The center features a rectangular opening for inserting a photograph, presumably of the sailor who carved it.  Flanking each side of the opening are carved daisies with thistle-like flowers resembling anchors, above and below.  At the top of the ring is the marguetry wood inlaid “HMS,” and the bottom “CODETIA.”   The back is equipped with a hand-cut copper hanging bracket and 4 pivoting retaining wedges.  10 ¾ inches in diameter.   Fabulous original, untouched condition exhibiting a great age patina.  One of the best sailor folk art items we have ever come across.  A real keeper!  195

HMS CODETIA was an Arabis-class sloop launched in 1916 in the service of the Royal Navy’s Fisheries Protection during World War I.  She had a length of 255 feet, a beam of 33 feet 6 inches, a draft of 11 feet 9 inches and displaced 1,250 tons.  After 21 years of wartime and peaceful duties she was broken up in 1937.


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11.73  P.O.W. TRAVELING  BOX.  Genuine late 18th century or very early 1800’s lidded box with a mirror in the lid, made by a gifted French prisoner incarcerated in a British prison during the Napoleonic Wars.    The entire upper portion of the box is meticulously covered in colored straw inlaid with intricate geometric patterns, the foremost of which is an elaborate checkerboard with the “grain” of the straw running in opposed diagonal directions.  Inside, the mirror is fringed with cut out paper in the form of clover leafs.  The age of the mirror is telling, being extremely early glass with significant striations.  3 ½ by 2 ½ by 1 inches.  Excellent original condition with only a couple of minor losses -- remarkable for a piece which is over 200 years old!  199



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11.43  IDENTIFIED SEA CHEST.  Truly exceptional 19th century seaman’s trunk with all the bells and whistles collectors avidly seek.  This classic 6 board American chest has sloping “canted” sides made of New England pine with hand dove-tailed construction bearing its original chocolate brown paint.   In true sea chest fashion it has a molded “skirt” on the lid which effectively prevented water from entering the top and a raised “kick board” bottom on all four sides which prevented water seeping in from the deck.  The interior exhibits a single drawer till, iron lock and striker plate, and traditional old hand-forged strap hinges.  The tour de force is the oil on sail canvas painting in the lid depicting the massive sailing bark at sea under full sail, identified below as the “4 . MAST . BARQUE .“EDWARD  SEWILL (sic)” .  BATH . MAINE . U.S.A.”  The huge square rigger with towering skysail royals is shown flying the American flag from her spanker aft with a 3-funneled liner depicted in the distance.  The character and execution of the painting is charmingly naïve with good attention to deck detail -- as expected of a sailor/artist.  Several crewmen are depicted.  The painting measures 26 by 16 ½ inches sight and is rimmed by another ½ inch strip of canvas held by numerous small tacks.   Although the chest itself may be a half century older than its turn-of-the-century identification, the context of the time in which the painting was rendered must be considered.  America had just won a resounding victory in the Spanish-American War.  The Spanish fleet was decimated.  Patriotic exuberance was at an all time high as the United States confidently entered the coming century as a world power.  With that noted, the finishing touches of this sea chest’s beckets and cleats can be appreciated.  The lovely extra large beckets are intricately woven of leather with Spanish hitching and Turks head knots.  The decoratively-carved wooden cleats are painted with patriotic Union shields on both ends.  40 inches long by 16 ½ inches high.  17 inches wide at the base by 15 ½ inches wide on the lid.  There are the typical cracks and nicks expected of a working sea chest well over 100 years old.  But these are merely character marks, not considered to be damage.  Accordingly this handsome chest can be rated as being in “excellent original condition.”  There is no doubt that this sailor member of the merchant sail fraternity was extremely proud to be an American at sea. SOLD



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11.27  EXQUISITE POWDER HORN.  Early 1800’s British seaman’s powder flask carved from the tough shell of a coconut.  This extraordinary example is meticulously carved with the finest detail depicting several charming vignettes.  Telling of its origins it shows a crown encircled by an oval double rope border near the bottom.  Nearer the top is the carved inscription “MY HART” encircled by a rope border festooned with leaves and five-pointed stars top and bottom.  Two conjoined hearts are pierced by arrows.  These are flanked by two scaly serpents with arrows for tongues.  There is a mythical beast adorning the top complete with scaly back, lizard legs, two open eyes, and a mouth made of faceted pewter which also serves as the flask’s spout.  On either side are pewter mounting lugs which would have been attached to a strap for carrying.  The remainder of the flask is adorned with any number of rosettes, vines, stars, recurring designs, pinwheels and two castles astride a plinth surmounted by pinwheels! Execution of the carving is of the first order.  The fine detail is literally amazing, and bears close scrutiny under magnification – a true testament to the carver’s advanced skills!  5 ½ inches long by 4 ¼ inches in diameter.  Fabulous original condition. Price Request

 

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11.36  CLASSIC SHIP IN A BOTTLE.  A most excellent late 1800’s bottle diorama consisting of a 4-masted American bark backed by a charming town.   This is one of the oldest ships in bottles we offer, evidenced by its hand-blown whiskey bottle with bulbous neck, thick bottom and bubbled glass.  The hull is of one piece carved wooden construction set into a blue putty sea.   The prow is identified with the name “BETTY.”  The masts and spars are well proportioned and the ship is appropriately rigged with taut original lines.  The ship flies its house flag “F.S.” from the mainmast and the American ensign from the spanker boom aft.   In the background is a classic diorama depicting a town of 6 houses, a church, a windmill and a large lighthouse.  The shore is lined with at least 11 “leafy” trees carved from wood.  The gray sky above the town is done in an unusual manner -- painted on the outside of the bottle.  The finishing touch is the stopper which is nicely painted in patriotic red white and blue.  Exactly 12 inches long by 3 ½ inches in diameter.  This bottle model is crystal clear and the contents are colorful and bright.  It has been beautifully preserved for well over 100 years in pristine original condition!  695 Special Packaging


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11.35  HUGE IDENTIFABLE SHIP DIORAMA.   The largest antique ship in a bottle we have ever seen!  This early example of sailor folk art in a bottle dates from the turn-of-the-last century and undoubtedly depicts the one and only 5-masted sailing ship PREUSSEN.   It features this exceptionally large 5-masted, square-rigged ship flying the American flag from the spanker boom aft, the house flag from the mainmast and a colorful pennant from the aftermast.  The ship’s hull is carved from a single piece of wood, itself measuring 9 inches long inclusive of the bowsprit!  It has 3 deck houses, a capstan on the foc’sle and two life boats on deck.  The masts and spars are nicely proportioned and all rigging is intact.   Steaming alongside the ship on its port side is a charming 2-masted vessel belching cotton “smoke” from its stack.  In the background a large town consisting of 5 buildings and an imposing lighthouse is depicted.  All of this is set in a colorful putty sea together with a cliff shoreline.  This remarkable presentation is contained in a clear molded glass bottle with a greenish tinge, the top of which is embossed “ONE GALLON” and is sealed with its original cork stopper with tassel.   It measures an impressive 13 ½ inches long by 5 ½ inches in diameter!  Capping off this display, the bottle rests on its custom, solid teak stand of handsome proportion and finish with two supports done in the traditional way using mortise and tenon joints.  The stand measures 14 3/8 inches long by 6 ¼ inches wide and is 1 1/4 inches thick. SOLD

While the vessel in this diorama is depicted flying the American ensign, it was likely made in homage to PREUSSEN’s single visit to an American port in April 1908, when by all accounts she reportedly wowed New Yorkers with her size and unique design.

PREUSSEN,  the only 5-masted square-rigged sailing ship ever built, was launched on May 7, 1902 at the J. C. Tecklenborg shipyard in Geestemunde, Germany to the plans of chief designer Dr. Georg Wilhelm Claussen.  Commissioned on July 31, 1902, hull number 179, she was made of steel 482 feet in length overall and displaced 11,150 tons.   She departed Bremerhaven, the day of her commissioning, to Iquique on her maiden voyage under the command of Captain Boye Richard Petersen, who actually assisted the naval architect with her design.  Legend has it that Kaiser Wilhelm II, while visiting the 5-masted barque POSTOI  in June 1899, asked the Captain when a 5-masted full-rigged ship would "finally come."  This inspired POSTOI’s owner, Carl Heinrich Laeisz, to order the ship.

As built, this unique vessel could weather the fiercest storm and even navigate in a force 9 gale.  In such conditions it took 8 men to hold the 6 ½ foot double helm wheel!  PREUSSEN  plied the nitrate trade to Chile, setting speed records in the process.  Due to her appearance, size and excellent sailing characteristics seamen called her the "Queen of  Queens of the Sea."  She made twelve round trips between Hamburg and Chile and a round the world voyage via New York to Yokohoma, Japan under charter to the Standard Oil Company.  The mighty Preußen, as she was called by her sailors, had only two skippers in her brief career, Captain Boye Richard Petersen (11 voyages) and Captain Jochim Hans Hinrich Nissen (2 voyages and the collision). Both masters developed their skills sailing such a huge ship under Captain Robert Hilgendorf, late master of the POSTOI.

On November 6, 1910, outbound on her 14th voyage to Chile, PREUSSEN  was rammed by the British cross-channel steamer BRIGHTON  8 nautical miles south of Newhaven.  Unwittingly, the BRIGHTON  attempted to cross PREUSSEN’s bow, underestimating her unusually fast 16 knot speed and ignoring her right-of-way as a sailing vessel.   PREUSSEN  was seriously damaged and lost much of her forward rigging, making it impossible to steer her to safety.   BRIGHTON  returned to Newhaven to summon aid.  The tug ALERT was dispatched to assist PREUSSEN.   But a typical November gale thwarted attempts to sail or tow the huge vessel to safety.   Intensions were for her to anchor off Dover, but both anchor chains broke and PREUSSEN  was driven onto the rocks at Crab Bay where she ultimately sank in 3 ½ fathoms of water.  While the crew and some of the cargo were saved, PREUSSEN  was unsalvageable.  BRIGHTON’s master was found responsible for the collision and his license was revoked.   To this day the  ribs of PRUESSEN can still be seen off Crab Bay during the Spring low tides.


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11.32 SHIP DIORAMA IN A LIGHT BULB.   Especially rare, absolutely delightful sailor folk art depiction of a Dutch steamship at sea with the shore and a town in the background -- all contained in a very early 1900's light bulb! This charming presentation features an old 2-masted steamship with 2 funnels belching (cotton) smoke and flying the Dutch ensign. The detail on this small ship is truly amazing. It features an open bridge abaft of which are 4 classic ventilators and an engineroom skylight. The foc’sle is equipped with capstan, windlass and lifelines!  Aft, the raised poop deck has a skylight and more incredible miniature life lines, not expected on a model of this size. Portholes are depicted on the deck house and along the bulwark. The town in the background consists of 4 buildings, a church, a windmill and a tree. At the extreme left a well proportioned lighthouse stands as a sentinel. This early light bulb is hand-blown, evidenced by the glass pontil nib on the end.   The threaded brass base is marked "PAT NOV 8 1904."  The entire bulb measures 5 inches long and is 2 ½ inches in diameter at the widest.  Outstanding original condition.  Clear and bright.  Complete with lovely removable custom-made solid African mahogany display stand with felt bottom.   The stand measures 2 ½ by 5 12/ inches and is 1 ¼ inches thick.  For the ship in a bottle collector, this is the ultimate addition!  Circa 1910.  795

This bulb most certainly is American with patent markings and date, the duration of which was 12 years. Accordingly the latest it could date is 1916, prior to World War I!


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11.30  SHIP IN A BOTTLE DIORAMA.   Extra nice early 20th century ship in a bottle diorama depicting a large 4-masted bark passing a town of exceptional size and complexity.  There are at least 30 buildings, several carved wooden trees and a large clock tower in the background.   The ship, with sleek, graceful hull, is carved from a single piece of wood painted blue with a salmon deck.  It flies the owner’s flag from the fore and the Italian merchant ensign aft.  This fine example of sailor folk art is signed on banners above the town “Armandad Elina / Recordad di mi / Remember to me.”  All of this is captured in time within a long neck whiskey bottle of clear glass, showing its age with a pontil on the bottom and bubbles in the glass.  It is capped off with the original cork bearing a star sealed under sealing wax.  The bottle is 11 inches long by 4 inches in diameter.  A remarkable feature of this presentation is its charming wooden stand with classic chipped-carved border and muted green, red and yellow paint.  The stand measures 8 inches long by 3 inches wide.   Condition is exceptional.  The bottle is clear and the interior colors clean and bright.  595 Special Packaging


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11.18  SHIP IN A BOTTLE DIORAMA.  Classic early 1900’s ship in a bottle model depicting a 3-masted bark flying an American flag, passing an American lighthouse station.  The well-detailed ship has a carved and painted wooden hull which plies a green putty sea.  The prominent lighthouse at the rear of the bottle stands next to early Marconi long wire transmission towers, followed by the charming lighthouse keeper’s residence   with two chimneys and a large flagpole flying an oversize American flag!  The scene is contained within a molded glass bottle reading “ONE QUART.”  The long neck of the bottle is decorated with sailor macramé in the form of a Turk’s head knot and stoppered with the original cork under sealing wax.  11 ¼ inches long by 3 ½ inches in diameter.  The bottle is clean, clear and bright.  A very nice example of this early form of sailor folk art, approximately 100 years old at good value.  449 Special Packaging


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11.19

11.19 SAILOR'S NEEDLE CASE. Extra large 19th century sailmaker's needle case. This very fine example of working sailor folk art consists of a carved wooden tube with a matching "plug" cap which joins with a tight press fit. Over each is meticulously woven decorative Spanish hitching done in traditional sailor fashion known as McNamara work or "macramé." Such a covering was functional, providing a wear resistant, easily gripped covering which also spoke of the sailor's abilities as an accomplished seaman. This extra large specimen measures 8 ½ inches long by 1 ½ inches in diameter and is complete with 2 old sail canvas needles. One is triangular-shaped with English markings and the other has an unusual curved “spade” shape. Excellent original condition with a deep, rich old shellacked surface. A very handsome deck hand's needle case from the days of sail. Certainly one of the nicest examples currently on the market. 395


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11.94 SAILOR'S NEEDLE CASE. Huge 19th century sailmaker's needle case. This exceptionally large example of working sailor folk art consists of a carved wooden tube with a matching "plug" cap which joins with a tight press fit. Over each is meticulously woven decorative Spanish hitching done in traditional sailor fashion known as McNamara work or "macramé". Such a covering was functional, providing a wear resistant, easily gripped covering which also spoke of the sailor's abilities as an accomplished seaman. This amazing example measures 9 1/2 inches long by 1 3/4 inches in diameter and is complete with 2 old triangular-shaped heavy sail canvas needles, both with English markings. Excellent original condition with a rich old surface. A simply great deck hand's needle case from the days of sail! The largest example we have ever seen. 495

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Also see catalog pages 2, 4 and 20 for more sailor-made folk art items

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