A spectacularly carved nameboard from the late 19th Century American Steam Yacht NEREID, this would have been mounted along the starboard side head ornament of the highly detailed luxury cruising yacht, built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company at Bristol, Rhode Island in 1882. It is a beautifully carved nameboard from a single piece of wood, with elegant craftsmanship and a superb aged patina, retaining its period finish and gilt.
The premier yacht designer Nathanael Herreshoff started in Providence and Bristol after graduating from MIT in 1870, and established the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Bristol in 1878 with some family members. If it wasn't for an accident in an 1888 speed trial, Herreshoff may have stayed with steam engines his entire career, rather than following into the design and building of some of the most famous racing sail yachts ever. NEREID was a 76 foot yacht with a 72 foot water-line, 12 ½ foot beam powered by compound inverted engines of 8 and 14 inches with a 14 inch stroke. It is listed that Herreshoff initially sold NEREID to Jay C. Smith of New York, and then in 1884 George Beck sells the yacht to F.L. Osgood, a prominent member of the Boston Yacht Club, and for whom Herreshoff made improvements on the yacht, including enlarging the cabin.
While such decorative arts were produced by seafarers and ship builders over the centuries, authentic carvings off of actual ships continue to be highly sought after and increasingly difficult to find. This is a extremely fine example and remnant artifact from the opulent era of the graceful steam yachts, and one of the best name carvings we have seen.
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