West Sea Company

New This Week:

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


4.48  BOOK, “SPERM WHALING FROM NEW BEDFORD.”   The highly sought after classic which pictorially documents the waning days of the American whale fishery in remarkable clarity and detail.  This book affords the best overall graphic coverage of an authentic whaling voyage ever produced.  Written by Elton W. Hall and published for the New Bedford Whaling Museum by the Old Dartmouth Historical Society in 1982, this hard cover book of 221 pages inclusive of Appendices, is complete with its original dust jacket in mint, unused condition.  Artist and photographer Clifford W. Ashley was permitted to sail aboard the famous sailing bark SUNBEAM out of New Bedford in 1904.  On that voyage Ashley captured every minute aspect of the whale hunt in period black and white photography.  Enhanced with its revealing narrative, this book ranks as one of the best, if not THE best, ever published on the topic.  Not available on Amazon.  New.  59

plate 1
plate 2

plate 3
plate 4

Order Info



7.26  HISTORICAL LONGITUDE BOOK.  “The Quest for Longitude,” William J.H. Andrewes, editor, 1996, The President & Fellows of Harvard College.  404 pages exclusive of Bibliography and Index.  Hard cloth cover with dust jacket and protective plastic cover.  This heroic size book (9 by 11 ¼ inches and 1 ½ inches thick) was inspired by the Longitude Symposium convened in Cambridge, Massachusetts in November 1993, which saw 500 attendees from 17 countries conferring on the history of finding the longitude at sea.  It contains 23 chapters and 4 Appendices comprised of lectures by some of the most noted scholars in their field at the time, including:  Alistar Cook, Michael Mahoney, Alan Stimpson, Anthony Turner, William Andrewes, Anthony Randall, Catherine Cardinal, Jonathan Betts, James Arthur and Robert Cheney, to name a few.  Topics include Mathematics, Navigation, Cartography, Longitude and the Satellites of Jupiter, The Lunar-Distance Method, John Harrison, Ferdinand Berthoud and Pierre LeRoy, Thomas Mudge, Arnold and Earnshaw among others.  Appendices C and D include translations of the earliest documents describing methods to find longitude at sea, and finally, local time at sea and the instruments employed.  Richly illustrated in color and black and white, including old paintings, engravings, photographs, line drawings and diagrams.  Each image is thoroughly captioned.  One unique, very scholarly aspect of this book is its meticulous documentation using hundreds of pertinent footnotes right alongside the adjoining text, making for interesting instant cross-referencing.  New.  95

plate 1
plate 2

plate 3

Order Info



13.03  WORLD WAR I DECK WATCH.  Genuine American marine timekeeper made by the prestigious “Elgin National Watch Co.” as marked on the silvered brass dial.  It features bold Roman numerals and a minute chapter ring marked in single minutes by 5’s.  The dial is swept by blued steel spade hands.  A subsidiary seconds bit is over the “VI” showing single seconds marked by 10’s.  The bright brass reflector ring is protected by the convex crystal set into the knurled bezel.  This high grade 17 jewel watch is stem wound, stem set, with a bi-metallic (temperature compensated) balance having gold timing screws, lever escapement and lever adjust.  The nickel plates are highly finished with decorative engine turning and floral engraving.   It is signed “Elgin Nat’l Watch Co., U.S.A. 17 Jewels.”  The movement serial number 17916901 indicates this 18 size watch was made in 1913.  It is slung in brass gimbals with locking lever and mounted in it original classic 3-tier chronometer box of rich mahogany.  The lower section has a functional box lock with key, is equipped with a brass dust rail and sliding lid stay.  The center section bears the inlaid brass plaque reading “ELGIN” and has a glazed cover.  The upper lid has a button latch and a quarter circle lid stay on the left.  The top of the box bears the engraved brass plaque reading ‘U.S.S.B. Ship Watch No. 1259” indicating its participation in America’s war effort as part of the United States Shipping Board.  This handsome presentation measures slightly over 5 inches cubed and is in outstanding cosmetic and running condition.  A real piece of history at a real bargain price!  879

The United States Shipping Board (USSB) was an emergency agency established by the Shipping Act of September 7, 1916.  At the beginning of the 20th century only 10% of U.S. trade goods were carried in U.S. bottoms.  European shipping companies dominated overseas trade.  The 1916 act was an effort by Congress to address the problem.  Ironically, at the time this legislation was introduced, it did not envision the country’s future war efforts.

Yet, with the onset of war, the fleets of countries previously carrying goods bound for America, were assigned to war duties, creating a crucial gap in the commercial trade vital to U.S.  commerce.  The United States’ entry into the war came just over two months after the Board’s formation.  With it came a complete change in the Board’s mission of just strengthening the nation's maritime capabilities to a massive wartime program.  Sometimes referred to as the "War Shipping Board," the official title has always been the United States Shipping Board.

When the United States declared war on the Axis powers on April 6, 1917 the USSB had to address the shortage of shipping by acquiring existing hulls along with a new construction program through its Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC).  At the time, the most readily available hulls were 91 German vessels of nearly 600,000 tons.  These was commandeered and refurbished for use by the USSB which was empowered to formally seize the vessels and assign them U.S. registry.  Among those were some of Germany's premier liners, the Amerika, George Washington, Kronprinzessin Cecilie and Vaterland.

The USSB's first action regarding new construction was to take control of every contract, hull and even steel in U.S. yards for ships over 2,500 tons.  Of 431 such ships, totaling over 3 million tons, 414 were completed.  When ships were delivered from the builder to the USSB they were allocated to the War Department, Navy Department or commercial service, based on needs and the class and type of ship.  By December 1918 the USSB had become the largest ship operating entity in U.S. history with a fleet of 1,386 vessels totaling nearly 7 1/2 million tons.  At the same time the USSB established a recruiting service and training centers to prepare officers to man the rapidly expanding fleet.  Between June 1917 and October 1918 a total of 11,618 licensed officers were graduated.  Officer training was expanded to include training for crews in a variety of shipboard capacities as well.  By December 1917 the goal of producing qualified crewmen had risen to 200,000.

The USSB’s shipbuilding program was terminated on May 9, 1922 with delivery of the last ship, Western World, built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation at Sparrows Point, Maryland.

The USSB was abolished effective March 2, 1934.  Its successor agencies have been the U.S. Shipping Board Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce (1933–36); the U.S. Maritime Commission (1936–50); the U.S. Federal Maritime Board of the Department of Commerce (regulatory functions only, 1950–61); the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (regulatory functions only, 1961- ); the United States Maritime Administration of the Department of Commerce (all other functions, 1950–81); and the U.S. Maritime Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation (all other functions, 1981).




Order Info



15.20  FAMOUS  PHOTO GROUPING.   Matched set of 5 original silverplate black and white photographs of the famous 4-masted lumber schooner MARCONI wrecked on the Oregon Coast.  The first shows a close-up of the starboard hull hard aground on the beach.  It is captioned in the photographer’s own hand “FOUR MASTED SCHR. “MARCONI” BOUND FOR CHILI, S.A. WRECKED MAR 23, 1903. NEAR CAPE ARAGO. 243.”   The second is an aerial view of the wrecked vessel awash in the surf entitled “WRECK OF THE “MARCONI.” 237- “   The third, broader view with the beach and the tree line in the background reads, “MARCONI” WRECKED MAR 23.09. 236.”  The fourth shows the ill-fated ship on the beach listing to port with her masts in tatters, the inscription in the photographer’s hand reads, “”MARCONI” ON THE BEACH – 240.”  The fifth images shows the doomed ship as no more than a pile of timbers and wreckage on the beach with Point Arago in the background.   It reads “MARCONI WRECKAGE. -235-“  All images measure 4 5/8 by 6 ½ inches and are in perfect condition.  They are mounted on their original stiff cards measuring 7 by 9 inches.  These are also very good, noting two have slightly dog-eared lower left corners.  An original photo set over 105 years old!   349 / all

The notable wreck of the MARCONI is recorded in several well known books on the topic.  Among them, Jim Gibb’s “West Coast Windjammers,” 1968, Superior Publishing Co., Seattle, where the wreck is depicted on 3 different pages.  On page 49 the caption reads, “Battered remnants of the four-masted schooner “Marconi” on the beach below Coos Head after her towline parted on Coos Bay bar March 23, 1909.  The crew was rescued but the lumber laden windship was totaled out."  Then in another Gibbs book, “Disaster Log of Ships,” 1971, Superior Publishing, the wreck is depicted on page 60 with the caption, “The local gentry come to look over the shattered remains of the four-masted schooner MARCONI.  While being towed across Coos Bay bar outbound for Valpariso, March 23, 1909, the towing hawser parted midway over the bar.  The vessel drifted up on the south spit of the notorious Oregon bar and was pounded into submission.  Built by and for the Simpson Lumber Co. at North Bend in 1902, the MARCONI came to grief at the entrance to the port where she was built, just seven years later.” That photo is shown as "PLATE" below.




Order Info


Back to Top