This set of American Naval Bronze Gangway Boards are exceptional and unique, partially as they are the only ones of bronze known today. Several prominent curators and collectors have weighed on their scarce nature and where they may have come from, and for once we invite your speculation and knowledge on the possibilities in advance. We are in agreement with American naval aficionado and collector Buck Kamphausen when he states that they must be from the era immediately before the Great White Fleet, when the might of the American Navy was put on display throughout the world's oceans in the first decade of the 20th Century. These battleships and cruisers, such as U.S.S. BALTIMORE and U.S.S. CHICAGO were warships that were dressed to be visually impressive as well as battle ready. Curators at Annapolis and Mariner's Museum, Newport News agreed to their unique and rare nature, and would like to know more as well.
What we do know is this: these exceptional gangway boards are heavy, bronze castings, with the "E Pluribus Unum" national phrase on a ribbon, topped by a pair of cannons crossed under the National Shield, a certain marking of the U.S. Naval Artillery Division. These are further accented with two crossed American ensigns on spear-topped flagpoles, and the array of 31 stars rising into the heavens. In place on its battleship or destroyer, the pair of boards would have brackets the ship's sally port where a gangplank would be laid for boarding the ship formally, or above a ladder installed on the outer hull. Where other examples from the centuries are carved wood, this pair is from an interesting yet brief era where the massive power and structure of the elite ships in the navy were powerful enough to drive metal ships and they were still built with craftsmanship pride and ornamentation.
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