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1905 Battle of Trafalgar Centenary Plaque
Made from Copper from HMS VICTORY

This copper plaque mounted on lacquered pine, was made to mark the 100 year anniversary of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson's final and greatest victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

By the time this centenary was celebrated in 1905, Nelson's flagship HMS VICTORY was already being preserved at Portsmouth Naval Yard as both a national treasure and as the flagship for the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Navy, a title she retains to this day as the oldest commissioned warship in the world. The title is largely ceremonial; to preserve the ship, launched in 1765, she is in permanent dry dock.

In 1903, VICTORY was accidentally rammed at Portsmouth, requiring extensive repairs to prepare for the Trafalgar centenary celebrations in 1905. As a result, some of her over 4,000 sheets of copper hull sheeting were recycled into souvenirs for the centenary celebrations. Markings on this plaque reveal that this was one such artifact.

The plaque has a large anchor, with rope medallion containing an image of the HMS VICTORY at sea, and is marked for King Edward VII, the reigning monarch at the time. The plaque reads:

Nelson's Victory
Presented by the British & Foreign Sailor's Society.
Containing Victory Copper from the Lords of Admiralty.
England Expects That Every Man Will Do His Duty
October 21, 1805 - October 21, 1905
Centenary Memento, ERVII
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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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A. Schraders Son US Navy Dive Helmet

Marked on nameplate with serial #1234, A. Schrader's Son, Inc., Manufacturers of Divers Apparatus, Brooklyn, N.Y." In excellent condition with a nice patina. Three wingnuts are missing, but the helmet is otherwise complete.

One of the rear valves bears the U.S. Navy Anchor Inspection stamp, indicating that it was owned and used by the US Navy. Below the inspection mark, on the same valve is another instance of the maker's mark, SCHRADER USA.

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A.J. Morse & Sons Dive Helmet
Serial No. 1846, Distributed by Mussens Ltd. of Canada

This nice, early commercial diving helmet bears two plaques: the maker's plaque- "A.J. Morse & Son, Inc., Boston, Mass." and beneath it the distributor's plaque, "Supplied by Mussens Limited Agents, Montreal, Canada".

The helmet is in excellent condition with a nice patina, very clean and complete.

The helmet bears matching serial numbers 1846 on the front and rear brails, and on the bonnet and breastplate. The front and rear brails are also stamped with additional maker's marks, "A.J. Morse & Son, Boston". Interestingly there are additional hand tooled marks on the brail the diver must have added for his own reference: RF, LF, RR and LR for right front, left front, right rear and left rear.

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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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