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19th Century Bald Eagle American Yacht Tiller Arm

This finely carved mahogany and brass tiller arm would have been used to steer one of the great American yachts of the period. This is of a size and quality as those found on the America's Cup schooners like AMERICA and COLUMBIA.

The striking head of a bald eagle sits above the brass collar which would have been used as a grip. The eagle's eyes are set in a fierce expression and his mouth sits open to show the sharp curves of his beak. The arm curves up gracefully into a column motif and then sweeps down with the final section adorned by a large stylized leaf shape, perhaps that of a stylized olive branch. Each section is deeply carved with excellent detail and decorative touches.

The arm has been French polished to bring out the deep, rich patina in the wood, a process which took an expert more than a week to complete. The last three photos included here show the arm before it was polished.

One of the finest tiller arms we have ever seen, this is a unique example of the work of a 19th century master of ship carving.

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American Woman Ship's Carved Figurehead
Ruffled Dress and Coiled Hairstyle

A finely detailed carved wood figurehead, diminutive with classic features, the origin of this womanly ship icon is American. Telltale clues include that her regency-style, just-above-the-shoulder dress sleeves that “poof” and the modest neckline, especially when matched to the upswept, comb-held, coiled hairstyle and carved oval earrings. All these fashion elements are suggestive of American fashion, circa 1820s. The leading figurehead historian England and a distinguished maritime museum curator in America both concur.

Properly attired, she looks quite reserved. Set on a carved plinth with a geometric pattern and rolling scroll, it blends into a sash-ribbon tied around her torso. The detail of the hair tightly bound in an upswept coiled bun. Prim and poised, the woman figure is fairly vertical in position, indicating an installation on a smaller vessel, possibly the bow of a schooner or small brig from the first quarter of the 19th Century. It has the correct wood plugs to have been properly mounted. The simple white paint with the sea-foam green dress is most likely very close to her original color and just freshened up a bit over time.

It is recorded that the piece was salvaged from a sailing vessel that broke up in Stomness on Orkney in the 19th Century, and entered a British collection and passed through the family for three generations before being sold. It is a classic American ship’s figurehead of a quality, type and size seldom found.

A full report on this antique, carved figurehead by leading figurehead historian Richard Hunter of England is available.

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Bronze New England Darting Whaling Harpoon

This bronze whaling harpoon is similar in style to the Provincetown Toggle Harpoon, though without the toggle action, so it may have been a precursor in design. With its smaller head and narrow shaft it was likely used to hunt smaller Cetaceans like Pilot Whales.

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Bronze Ship's Bell from the Steel Steamer Yarmouth of 1887
in Verdigris Patina


This fine bronze bell once graced the Steel Steamer Yarmouth, of Nova Scotia, Canada. With an excellent verdigris patina to the bronze, the bell retains a strong, resonant tone when struck. Marked "YARMOUTH 1887"; with the smaller foundry mark of "J.M. Broomall" across the top.

Built by Archibald McMillan & Son, Dumbarton-on-the-Clyde, Glasgow, the Steel Steamer Yarmouth measured 220 feet long p/p with a 35 foot beam, traveling at a speed of 14 knots. Designed specifically to ferry passengers and goods for the Yarmouth Steamship Company, at the time she was launched in May of 1887 she was the finest steamship to ply the routes between the United States and Eastern Canada.

The Yarmouth Steamship Company (YMC) brought reliable transportation between New England and Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy with sailings between Yarmouth and Boston, Halifax and St. John. Started as the Yarmouth Line in 1885 the ships were at first just a way for its owner, L.E. Baker, to support his existing import and mercantile business. By 1887, when the YMC was established, the routes were key to transportation and commerce in the region with the YMC not only bringing tourists to the province but eventually building hotels and other developments at ports of call along with creating rail connections with their ships.

The photo of the ship at dock is the SS Yarmouth in Nova Scotia and the second image is of an advertisement for the Yarmouth line steamships. These images are shown for historical reference and are not included.

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Draeger Dive Helmet, DM40 No. 3247
Three Bolt, Four Light

A mid-20th Century Diving Helmet from the Draeger Company of West Germany, they are still among the world leaders in diving apparatus, and other fields requiring respiration devices. This classic diving lid is very clean and polished, despite its obvious heavy use. It has the top-mounted carrying handle that Draeger added to their lids from the beginning in the late 19th Century.

The company emblem is pressed in the front breastplate, and the helmet fixtures include the telephone connection, air intake and air exhaust.

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Dutch Log Timer Tobacco Box

This copper and brass tobacco box features a perpetual calendar on the lid and is marked with a date of 1764. There are two portraits on the face, potentially of Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory to commemorate the Julian and reformed Gregorian calendars.

On the reverse there is another portrait, this time an explorer pointing to a spot on a globe. Given the marked date of 1497 this could be Amerigo Vespucci. Below the portrait is a speed table used to calculate speed in the water. A chip of wood was tossed over the side of a vessel from a set station that carried a mark down the side of the ship. The sailor would then count rhythmically until the chip reached a second mark on the side. Because the distance between the marks was a known constant this allowed them to calculate their speed. The system was originally designed by Pieter Holm who ran a navigation school in Amsterdam.

The last image seen here is taken from the book, "Decorative Arts of the Mariner" by Gervis Frere-Cook, showing a log timer similar to this one.

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