WEST SEA COMPANY has been serving the nautical antique needs of institutions and private collectors around the world for over three decades. Begun as a "Mom and Pop" operation in 1975, we still operate under the same ownership, and have continued at our present location for the past 20 years. Some of our more notable customers include the Kendall Whaling Museum, formerly located in Sharon, MA; the New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA; the Mariners Museum, Newport News, VA; The Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; the Philadelphia Maritime Museum, Philadelphia, PA; Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT; the National Maritime Museum, San Francisco, CA; Disney Productions; America's Cup winner, Dennis Conner; the movie "TITANIC"; the movie "MASTER and COMMANDER"; "PIRATES of the CARIBBEAN". actor Tommy Lee Jones; and even pop singer Billy Joel!
The Early Years
With the end of the Vietnam war in 1973, the world saw the greatest number of aging, unfit merchant ships afloat at any time in history. The reasons were threefold. 1973 marked the passing of 30 years since the peak worldwide output of military equipment and ships during the Second World War. 30 years is the average life expectancy of a ship. Secondly, America's massive movement of material into Southeast Asia during the 60s and early 70s relied primarily on older subsidized chartered vessels, viewed as being expendable. The corrosive tropical climate coupled with neglect and lack of maintenance, hastened the demise of these old bottoms. Finally, technology of the 70s had rendered the labor-intensive steam plants of the World War II era obsolete. They were neither practical nor cost effective to run. This fact was exacerbated by the onset of the first OPEC oil embargo in 1973.
The result was a worldwide glut of vessels waiting to be salvaged. International salvaging ports took up the call: Bombay, Pusan, Hong Kong, Brownsville. But the grand daddy of them all was Kaohsiung, Taiwan, which in 1975 scrapped a record 700+ ocean-going vessels -- nearly 2 a day!
Fully 95% of a salvaged vessel's value is in its steel hull. But pre-1960 vessels contained wood, brass, and glass embodied in instruments, furniture, equipment, and objects d'art the likes of which no modern vessel will ever carry again. It was this mere 5% , the fascinating relics of the sea, that launched WEST SEA COMPANY.
It was a classic example of being in the right place at the right time. Two Naval officers met: one fresh from carrier combat air duty in "Nam" and the other heading the Military Sealift Command (the Navy's version of the "merchant marine") office in Kaohsiung. The result was the formation of White Star Recovery Co., Ltd. named in wistful homage to the greatest potential salvage opportunity of all time -- the RMS TITANIC!
During the next 3 years, with the 2 principals still in the Navy, but devoting more and more of their time to the fledgling business, White Star grew. In 1978 there were two locations, Norfolk, Virginia and San Diego, California.
Before long it became apparent that our White Star had risen and the business was too big to be continued on a part time basis. Both officers resigned their commissions of 9 years and leapt headlong into the nautical antique business consolidated into a single headquarters in San Diego.
By the end of the year we were "on the street" selling nautical antiques displayed on and around an old 60 foot tuna boat propped up in a parking lot adjacent to the busiest intersection in the city. "The Lot" as it was fondly referred to, generated more response than ever dreamed possible. It prompted a second "Ugly Old Boats" location in the nearby town of El Cajon.
We entered the 80's with a new name, West Sea Recovery Co., and a new permanent location in San Diego's Gaslamp District. In the next 10 years the business grew and ownership was consolidated to its present form. More and more our focus turned to buying and selling only museum-quality nautical items.
Late in 1989 we moved to our present location at 2495 Congress Street, San Diego, California 92110 in San Diego's Historic Old Town district. In recognition of the fact that we no longer dealt in ship's salvage, we dropped "Recovery" from our name. Today, 24 years later, we remain WEST SEA COMPANY. Well into the new millennium we celebrate the beginning of our fourth decade in this business!
Now with 34 years of experience and thousands of sales, we think we've got it right. Our pledge is to continue providing YOU, our loyal customer, with the finest quality nautical antiques and art at the very best price anywhere in the world!! We realize the competition is only a mouse click away! Smooth sailing.
Since moving onto the Internet with this
Website in August of 1998, we have received the following comments
from customers who have ordered from us. These comments were
unsolicited and are quoted verbatim:
John Acres, Las Vegas, Nevada
David Chesanow, Washington State
Frank DeFeo, Jr., Dorothy, New Jersey
Justin S., Las Vegas, Nevada
Mike Mattis, Davis, California
Dale Di Stefano, M.D., Newport Beach, California
Abe Z., Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
"I am pleased to announce that the package arrived here in Edinburgh. Everything is in first class condition with no breakages or damage. I must compliment you on your packing once again and the goods contained therein are of exceptional quality, consistant with your high standards. Thank you so much for all effort you have put in to shipping this, both in terms of making sure the packing was right and in terms of cost. I am very happy with this purchase and would certainly have no problem recommending Westsea as a first class company with which anyone can safely do business. I will continue to visit your web site and hopefully we can do business again."
Robert Hay, Edinburgh, Scotland
"The package has arrived! I am very pleased. All of the items are safe and sound and will be sleeping in their new home tonight. They are exactly how I remembered them to be....and even better now. I look forward to future business."
Allan K., Kennsington, New Hampshire
"Our shipment arrived last Tuesday in fine condition. Thanks for your careful packing.
It's wonderful to find a knowledgeable and trusted resource like Westsea. A firm like yours is especially appreciated in today's Internet economy where one rarely knows with whom one is dealing. I'm looking forward viewing your web site every month or so to see what new treasures you are offering."
Bert Sperling, Portland, Oregon
"I received package today. You are to be commended on how well you package items. It took me 1/2 hour to fully unwrap everything. Everything came through without a problem. I am very pleased with all items especially the fantastic scrimshaw dipper. I am impressed with how well the descriptions of the items in the catalog match up with the actual piece. No deceptions."
Charles Black, Plymouth, Massachusetts
"Scrimshaw net shuttle arrived today. Am more than satisfied and a very good price. Definitely a different item and well worth having."
Bruce Loughlin, Barnsatable, Massachusetts
"Received the baleen ditty box today in perfect condition, and I am quite pleased with it. It really is a beautiful item! Thank you again."
Kurt Kohtz, Vpsilanti, Michigan
"The ship's bell arrived yesterday, and just as you said, it is fantastic!! It was packed very carefully and survived the trip across country, arriving in perfect condition. It is a wonderful WWII ship's bell and I could not be happier. The original mounting bracket itself is a real treasure being very rugged and with a handsome patina. The bell is of superb construction, still in fantastic condition, and was made to precise Navy specifications. I certainly appreciate your efforts. Thanks again!!"
Ronald B. Moser,Captain, USN (Ret.), Woodbridge, Virginia
"Jennifer and I are thrilled with the ship model. It is spectacular. Not nice...spectacular. I haven't seen one any nicer in all the years I've been admiring them. The workmanship and detail on it is beautiful. I greatly appreciate adding this to my collection and will admire it daily on my Study desk. As its newest custodian, I'll take great care of it for years to come and may donate it to a Museum when I pass on. Hopefully that won't be for a very long time. In the meantime, it will be a great treasure for my family to enjoy."
Jonathan Blum, Anchorage, Kentucky
"Thank You very much! I opened the package today - You were right: the boatswain's pipe really is very nice. I will treasure it."
Frank Suppan, Vienna, Austria
"The post lantern arrived in perfect condition yesterday, in an excellent packing job. My thanks ... the lantern is magnificent ... your description and assessment of it was right on the mark ... and you have a very satisfied customer!"
Fred Leech, Dundas, Canada
"Just received the lamp... awesome looking!"
Mike Wright, Ontario, Canada
Parsons Clark, Topsfield, Massachusetts
"I've now had the Tobias for three days, and I do love it. It is elegant and beautiful, and it keeps essentially perfect time. I am very, very pleased. It was a pleasure doing business with you."
Mark de Regt, Redmond, Washington
"I received the Schat Davit ship plaque today. It is superb! Thank you! It was very nice doing business with you and I hope to do business with you in the future."
Bob Buseck, Erie, Pennsylvania
"The piece arrived today & looks great! Thank you so much!!!!!!"
Diane Meftah, Southborough, Massachusetts
"I received the ship's wheel today. WOW! It is absolutely magnificent. This is the third item I've purchased from you, and each of them has proven to be even better than the description. I couldn't be happier. As well, the wheel arrived in perfect condition, thanks to the excellent packing job."
Travis Porter, Little Rock, Arkansas
"I just wanted to let you know the cabinet has arrived safely Thank you once again for packing it so well and organising shipping etc. I am very happy with it."
Grant, Butler, London, England
"I thought I'd send a quick note letting you know that the telegraph arrived yesterday in good condition and is now displayed prominently in my home. It's a beautiful piece and, although it reaffirmed that I'm out of my gourd when I told her I was purchasing it, the wife is rather impressed as well!"
Bill Winner, Durango, Colorado
"I received the Midshipman's Journal yesterday and it is simply fantastic!! I just want to personally thank you for working with me on this great Journal and sending it to me to review. It is a super nautical document and the water colors, maps, and charts are outstanding (just as you indicated)."
Ron Moser, Captain, USN (Ret).Woodbridge,
"The modeler has informed me of his good reception of the model, and sends his compliments on your packing. He also told me it was a "good buy." Thanks again for the sale."
Richard Jones, Tigard, Oregon.
"WOW, the octant arrived safely today!! Terrific!! An incredible item in perfekt condition!! Your description was absolutely correct, it is really an museum piece and I'm highly pleased with it. Never seen such a beauty before, being more than 200 years old! Normally I'm very cautious purchasing something in internet without having seen it before, but you got my confidence. It was the second time, buying something from you and I'm sure it will not be the last time."
Wolfgang Viermann, Neckargemünd,
"I wanted to tell you that we gave the Ship Wheel Barometer in recognition of 45 years of service to a Washington State Ferry employee today. He was absolutely delighted with the award! Everyone at the luncheon was very impressed with it as well. The quality of the barometer, the wood used for the wheel and the fine craftsmanship of the brass work around the barometer all made for a very impressive item. Add to that your great customer service and prompt, well packaged shipping and I'd say it's safe to say that you have made a customer who will come back to you again and again."
Burke Long, Washington State Ferries
"I picked up the clock this morning, what a fantastic timepiece. I shall put it up in my study tomorrow. Once again your service has been first class. Thank you."
Clive Seymour, Perth, Australia
"The ship's wheel came in last week. My husband loved it! Thank you."
Cathy Franklin, Harkers Island, North
"Just closing the loop. The sextant arrived yesterday in great shape. It's a wonderful piece in teriffic condition, just as you described. I'm very pleased. Thanks."
Rear Admiral Mike Sullivan, U.S.N. (Ret.),
"The ivory fid arrived safely yesterday. Nicely packed! Thank you very much, even nicer than I anticipated. And really nice to use as well. Although it doesn't make it any easier to get a star knot right!"
Major Eddie Parks, Guernsey, England
"Ifland's book has arrived and as usual I am more than pleased. Needless to say, I have never been disappointed with any item I have purchased from West Sea Co. Your background research on all your items has been very helpful. Keep up the good work."
William Jackle, Franklin, North Carolina
"have just received the quadrant from UPS service, and it has arrived safe and sound and very well packed. It is a fine example of the first type of octant that were made. Thank you very much for a well-managed transaction - I shall be returning from time to time to your homepage to see what you have got!"
Ivan Tafteberg Aabyhoj, Denmark
"I received the Captain's clock and barometer set this afternoon and I am absolutely delighted with it. It was exactly as described on your web site. I must compliment you on your excellent packing and shipping arrangements. Not only did the instruments arrive safely and undamaged but I had no customs charges to pay. Many thanks."
George Railson, Northumberland, England
"I'm very happy to tell you, that I got the Cabin Lamp on Saturday in best condition. It's really a very nice item, so I'm very pleased with it!
So thanks again, I'll have a look at your website every day!"
Wolfgang Viermann, Heidelberg, Germany
"The E.O.T. arrived today, and in perfect condition! You were right, it is even more impressive in person! You packed everything so well. We are very excited with the purchase and with your personal attention and West Sea Company in general! It is nice to find quality items and attention when making a purchase, there is so little of that these days. Our best to you and hopefully, we'll be finding more great items on your website soon! Thank you so much!"
Elle Dare, Plymouth, Michigan
"I have received the book you sent and I am very happy with my purchase. It was a pleasure doing business with you. If you would like me to leave any customer feedback on your website I would be more than happy to. Thanks once again."
Horia Gavrilescu, Toronto, Canada
"The whistle is fabulous and I am very glad to have it. As a matter of fact I bought a piece of nautical antiques on the Internet for the first time. Your description on an item is very informative and trustworthy. I look forward to coming across another good one on your website in the near future."
Hirochika Katayama, Yokosuka, Japan
"I wanted to let you know that the scrimshaw tusks arrived here safe and sound. I think they are great and am very happy with them. It was a pleasure doing business and I will watch the web site for more interesting pieces."
T.S., Sandwich, Massachusetts
"I received your parcel with the book and the pocket drafting set. You certainly gave a complete and detailed description of the set and I am very pleased with the purchase. I will not hesitate to contact you again!"
Lucas Bonsel, Delft, The Netherlands
"My package arrived last week. The item was better then I expected. I just love it. Thanks so much for holding the item for me, and keeping me updated and such. I'm saving my pennies for my next purchase. Thanks again!"
Ann Omodt, Boise, Idaho
"As a client who was about to give a lot of money to a person I'd never met, for a product I'd never seen in person, I was extremely cautious and concerned. Further, at the beginning, I didn't know West Sea Co. had a storefront. The terrific ship's telegraph arrived and was precisely as described. Further, Rod went to great lengths to be sure I was comfortable throughout the major purchase, and then packed it with remarkable care. I couldn't be more satisfied with the transaction and as a result, naturally, I --highly-- recommend West Sea Company."
Bill Erickson, Danville, California
"The quadrant arrived safe and sound. It is a beauty as you indicated. Also thank you for the letter from the museum. I will continue to visit your website on a regular basis and look forward to future transactions! Thanks again."
Gerald Lawrie, Houston, Texas
"Just to confirm that the painting arrived this morning. The packaging was first-rate. I am delighted with it - it will hang nicely on my lounge wall with the others. My only problem now is that I may need a larger house to accommodate my collection!"
David Simpson, Glasgow, Scotland
"The Boat Signal Lamp safely arrived today! Very nice piece! Thank you! I will be checking your website for new items on Fridays."
Bert Yankielun, Lebanon, New Hampshire
"Just wanted to let you know the package arrived on time and in very good shape. The Model 22 was everything you said it would be. It is beautiful! Many thanks!"
Herbert A. Glaser, Attorney, Washington D.C.
REGARDING CLOCK & BAROMETER SET "I finally unpacked the thing! After dragging the "dead body" up three flights of stairs, I almost ran out of steam. Well, they are a sight to behold. I am sure that if he ever buys us a destroyer, tug or ice breaker - we will have the proper devices to keep time and pressure! Honestly, I was overwhelmed. Thanks again for you efforts."
Mary Ellen White, Hong Kong
"I got the Davenport desk today. It arrived in perfect condition. The desk is a wonderful nautical antique, it looks great in my library. Thanks for the desk and excellent service. See you next time I am in San Diego."
Captain Jim Dyson, USNR, Ret., Portsmouth,
"All is well and the joy of Linda with her new campaign chest is great. I was surprised by the solidity and quality of the crate! Thank you to both of you."
Urs Wenger, Thun, Switzerland
"All is well and we are thrilled with the trunk. Arrived in perfect shape and looks perfect in the room."
David G., Scarsdale, New York
"I received the painting some time ago and it was opened at last on Father's Day. It was a great sucess. Thanks for packing it so carefully. I will most assuredly return to your website for my next nautical purchase."
Rae Varion, Springfield, Virginia
"I received the gunmount plaques a few days ago and am most pleased with all the items I purchased from you. Thanks!"
James Schoenung, Newtown, Pennsylvania
"The chronometer arrived in perfect condition and operates beautifully. I am very pleased. Thank you for the quick attention to my order. I am recommending West Sea Company to my family and friends. Thanks again."
John Ferguson, Sausilito, California
"Just wanted to let you know that the pair of Victorian pictures arrived safely....I'm extremely happy with my purchase....Thank you again."
Marilynn Cassese, Lavallette, New Jersey
"I just wanted to let you know how thrilled I am with the item and how helpful you were, even remembering to put in the history! Thank you so much. It is a gift and I can't wait to give it. I wish everything that I bought came with such personal attention and care. Thanks so much again, I hope to do business with you again!"
Ellen Piekny, Plymouth, Michigan
"I got It!!!!
Thanks a lot. I still need to look at it in detail but it's as beautiful as I thought. I'm really excited not only because of the helmet itself but because everything went so well. I've got to admit that I was really impressed by the quality of the packaging. I'm really looking forward to doing more business with you!"
Javier Gros, Geneva, Switzerland
"The Busk arrived this afternoon. I love it!"
Adrea Thigpen, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
"The telescope arrived yesterday. It is really remarkable to think this scope is 300 years old. My wife and I are both very pleased. Thank you very much. You did a great job packing the scope. The quality of nautical antiques you folks offer is outstanding and the presentation of the pieces on your website is better than any we have seen."
Vance Gese, Eagle River, Alaska
"Just to let you know that the book arrived this morning in perfect condition. Thank you very much -- I am very pleased!"
Peter Nielsen, Denmark
"Just wanted to let you know that the harpoon arrived safe and sound. Very pleased with it. As always, great doing business with you!"
Paul Granger, Succasuna, New Jersey
"The tray has arrived, safe and sound. A beauty. Many thanks. I shall of course continue to cruise your site over the season. I always do... it's one of the best on the web!"
Jack Fritsch, Nantucket, Massachusetts
"I was very pleased with both the quality of the items and the extremely prompt service. Thanks again, Jim."
Jim Gehring, Chicago, Illinois
"Managed to pick the chronometer up on Saturday from the parcel company depot. Goods arrived in 100% condition with no problems, what a lovely timepiece. Many thanks for your A-1 service."
Alan Hodds, Norfolk, England
"The Deck Watch needed only a small push and a drip of oil and is running now perfectly. I found out the production year, that was 1909. The inner case looks so clean and undamaged that I wonder whether it was renewed recently? For the rest I'm happy to have done business with you. Thanks for the good service."
Jan Beekelaar, Zevenhoven, The
"We have indeed received the chest. We got it unpacked this weekend and it is truly beautiful. The shipping was great, very secure. Thanks so much. It will be much enjoyed and appreciated."
Cheryl Jones, Germantown, Tennessee
"The integraph arrived last Monday. The instrument seems to be very rare. The small serial number indicates that only a few of these integraphs were produced by Coradi. It is a great supplement to my collection of mathematical instruments. Thank you for this transaction as well as for the nice email contact and your effort to complete the deal."
Martin Krebs, Zurich, Switzerland
"Whistle arrived today - absolutely delighted. Many thanks."
Victor Spencer, Dorset, England
"The chronometer has been de-corked, setup, and made ready for service. I cannot tell you how much pleasure this quality chronometer brings me. It is also a marvelous match for the barometer I purchased previously! Thank you for the care and attention in packaging and shipment. I trust you, and your company maintain the highest business ethics found anywhere."
Captain Matt Sutton, Arlington, Virginia
"I just unpacked the ship's barometer a few moments ago. I am pleased beyond my expectations. You were correct, it is a beauty! Thank you again for your professional service and quality merchandise."
Captain Matt Sutton, Arlington, Virginia
"I am quite impressed with the clock. The face is much larger that I expected, which is a nice surprise. I appreciate conservative descriptions. Also the dial is in much better condition than the photo indicated. I hate to tell you but I think if the clock was put on the block by Christi's it would bring a lot more money."
Sam Pyeatte, Siloam Springs, Arkansas
"The chronometer and teeth arrived. The teeth are stunning!! Much more amazing than the photos. Thank you so much!"
Hugh Wheeler, New York City
"Clock arrived -- beautiful -- thank you! Please let me know if you get anything similar."
Ira Krisnsky, Beverly Hills, California
"Just to let you know the watch arrived safe and sound. I couldn't be happier."
Paul Anderson, San Francisco, California
"The trucker left the painting yesterday and it is nicer than I anticipated. Thanks for the excellent packing job, it came through in great shape. I hope to do business with you again."
John W. Courtland, Atlanta, Georgia
"My shipment arrived safe and sound about an hour ago. I am VERY PLEASED! Thank you very much and I look forward to doing some more business in the near future."
Captain John S. Proctor, USN, Manassas,
"I'm very pleased to report that UPS got the sextant here. Everything seems to be in perfect shape -- your packing was great. I'm truly delighted with it. When you called this "museum quality", it was no overstatement. I never imagined it would be possible to find such a beautiful and wonderful instrument outside of a museum. I also never imagined that I'd buy such a valuable instrument sight unseen. Your detailed photos and descriptions gave me confidence to do so, and I haven't been disappointed. I can't find a single flaw that you had failed to point out before I purchased it. I feel I can rely fully on your knowledge, judgment, and integrity."
Captain William D. O'Neil, Falls Church,
"Thanks, the TAS is here -- and beautiful ! What an extraordinary articfact. Once again, thanks for everything."
Alan Cleveland, Manchester, New
"The compass has arrived safely (great packing!). Thank you, it certainly is a beautiful piece. My husband will just love it!"
Deborah Irwin, Singapore
"Wanted to let you know that the inclinometer and door knocker arrived safely on Monday. They're both great, thanks much. Karen said the picture of the inclinometer didn't do it justice--really a nice piece of machinery. Thanks again."
Commander Chuck Gaouette, USN, O'Fallon,
"Excellent Baro....great packing....thanks....Mark."
Mark Liptak, Topsfield, Massachusetts
"My compass arrived yesterday and I am very pleased with it. It is exactly what I was looking for. It is beautiful and in exceptional condition. I will recommend your company to anyone who is interested in nautical antiques. If I need to find something else I will most certainly come back to you. Thank you."
Debbi G., Roseville, California
"The barometer arrived in excellent shape and was well beyond my expectations."
Dr. Thomas Papreck, Kansas City,
"I received the scope yesterday and you were right - it's great. It's exactly what I imagined having. Again thanks for all your help."
Thomas Edwards, Walnut Creek, California
"I don't know if it will help or not, but feel free to use me as a reference to anyone wishing to know what kind of dealer they are working with. A lot of people are wary in dealing over the Internet (me included) and a reference from a satisfied customer might help."
John Badner, Exton, Pennsylvania
"The model is fantastic!"
J. Berten, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
"Just letting you know I received the scrimshaw and it's much nicer than the picture portrayed. I'm very happy with this purchase."
Gary Cooper, Fredericksburg, Virginia
"I've been buying nautical antiques from West Sea since 1987. The pieces I've acquired are museum quality. In fact, a number of them are now in The Mariners Museum, Newport News, Virginia and are illustrated in my book, "Taking the Stars, Celestial Navigation from Argonauts to Astronauts." I've found their descriptions to be accurate and their prices to be fair. It's been fun doing business with them."
Peter Ifland, Cincinnati, Ohio
"Man! Oh! Man! The octant just arrived and it is beautiful. I can't believe I have one. Never even touched one. Only seen them in museums. Thanks."
David Hartley, Hartley and Edwards Lawyers,
Lillington, North Carolina
"The engine order telegraph is everything you said it was! This is my first experience at buying over the Internet. I am very pleased with my purchase. Thank you!!!"
Lawrence Guralnick, Stoneybrook, New