OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SKETCH

Number 77

Photographs of Whaling Vessels: A Pictorial Supplement of the American Neptune
Issued Separately as Part of the Old Dartmouth Sketch Series, 1973

Prepared by Eric A. R. Ronnberg Jr., Associate Curator of Maritime History

For permission to issue this pictorial supplement as a separate publication, the Old Dartmouth Historical Society acknowledges the courtesy of the Editor of The American Neptune and its publisher, the Peabody Museum of Salem.

PHOTOGRAPHS OF WHALING VESSELS: PART I

Brigs and Schooners

While American whaleships are hardly strangers to anyone, the obscure and unknown details of these craft probably far outweigh those that are definitely known. The smaller vessels of the Atlantic whale fishery, most of them brigs and schooners, have been almost totally disregarded while the larger ships and barks are continually represented by a handful of highly publicized and not always typical examples. In similar fashion, the activities of these craft have been examined primarily in their more glamorous aspects, at the expense of a unified concept of the whaling industry as a whole. To rectify this problem pictorially is impossible, but it is hoped that from among the accompanying photographs whaling enthusiasts will find a few they have never before seen in print. The American Neptune acknowledges its gratitude to The Whaling Museum, New Bedford, Massachusetts, from which the following photographs, unless credited otherwise, have been drawn.

[All illustrations may be viewed on the PDF version available through the Whaling Museum's website].

PLATE I

Schooner William Wilson, 91.3 tons. Built at Plymouth, Mass., 1856; converted to whaling and registered at Marion, Mass., 1866; under New Bedford management, 1882; condemned and broken up, 1889 (Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Salem)

PLATE II 

Schooner Pedro Varela, 89.68 tons. Built at Somerset, Mass., 1853; formerly U.S. Revenue Cutter Campbell. Reregistered at New Bedford, 1876, then a whaler; lost at sea, 1919

Schooner E. B. Conwell, 91.38 tons. Built at Essex, Mass., 1859; reregistered at New Bedford, 1878, under the name of Eleanor B. Conwell. No whaling cruises reported after 1907

PLATE III

Schooner Adelia Chase, 84.65 tons. Built at Bath, Maine, 1875; registered at New Bedford, 1879, then a whaler. Sold and withdrawn in 1906; subsequently abandoned at Brava, Cape Verde Islands

PLATE IV

Schooner Rosario, 149 tons. Built at San Francisco, 1878; first recorded whaling cruise, 1888; lost in the ice off Point Barrow, 1898

Schooner Era, 127.33 tons. Built at Boston, 1847; reregistered at New London, Conn., 1877, then making whaling cruises into Hudson Bay; reregistered at New Bedford, 1895; lost at Miquelon, July 1906

PLATE V

Schooner Cameo, 200 tons. Recorded in New Bedford registers as built at Bath, Maine, 1878, and enrolled at New York, 1904; reregistered at New Bedford, 1904; first whaling cruise, 1908; returned from last whaling cruise, 1921

Schooner Bertha D. Nickerson, 89 tons. Built at Boothbay, Maine, 1883; reregistered at New Bedford, 1906, as a whaler; arrived from last whaling cruise, 1915, probably becoming a Brava packet; sold foreign, 1921

PLATE VI

Brig Abbott Lawrence, 159.81 tons. Built at Duxbury, Mass., 1849; reregistered at Fairhaven, Mass., 1867, as a whaler; reregistered at New Bedford, 1875; condemned and sold foreign, 1881. The term ‘brig’ was used loosely by whalemen; most ‘brigs’ were probably hermaphrodites, particularly after 1840

PLATE VII

Brig Isabella, 132.14 tons. Built at Derby, Conn., 1845; reregistered at New London, Conn., 1863, as a whaler; reregistered at New Bedford, 1878; lost in Hudson Strait, 1884; crew rescued by schooner Era (see Plate IV)

Brig Frances A. Barstow, 127.57 tons. Built at New Bedford, 1877; based at San Francisco following her cruise of 1889-1890; returned to New Bedford, 1897; sold at Bermuda, 1900

PLATE VIII

Brig Sullivan, 344 tons. Built at Gouldsboro, Maine, 1866; reregistered at Norwich, Conn., 1905; lost at Fayal after dragging her anchor, 1913

Brig Viola, 190 tons. Built at Essex, Mass., 1910. Originally hailing from Portland, Maine, she made five whaling cruises out of New Bedford; lost at sea on the fifth cruise, 1917

PHOTOGRAPHS OF WHALING VESSELS: PART II

Ships and Barks

PLATE IX

Ship Benjamin Tucker, 348 68/95 tons. Built at Mattapoisett, Mass., and registered at New Bedford, 1839. Burned by CSS Alabama, 1862. This daguerreotype shows her at Honolulu, 3 November 1856, following a severe storm

Ship Coral, 370 15/95 tons (361.55 tons, new register). Built at Newbury, Mass., 1819; reregistered at New Bedford, 1832; condemned and refitted at San Francisco, 1878; withdrawn from service, 1889. This photograph was probably made in 1856

PLATE X

Ship California, 398 5/95 tons (366.58 tons, new register). Built and registered at New Bedford, 1842; cut down to bark rig and stationed at San Francisco before her cruise of 1891-1892; completed final cruise, 1906; broken up at San Francisco

Ship Niger, 436 46/95 tons (411.69 tons, new register). Built at Mattapoisett and registered at New Bedford, 1844; last whaling cruise ended, 1890; abandoned as unseaworthy, 1897. This photograph is believed to have been taken by William Bradford in 1886 when Niger was outward bound on her last voyage

PLATE XI

Ship James Arnold, 392 70/95 tons (345.84 tons, new register). Built at New Bedford, 1852; registered there, 1853; after 1895 under Chilean ownership; still whaling in 1925, then registered at Talcahuano

Ship James Arnold, circa 1890, under Chilean registry

PLATE XII

Bark, ex-ship, Lagoda, 340 62/95 tons (371.15 tons, new register). Built at Scituate, Mass., 1826; converted to a whaler and reregistered at New Bedford, 1841; converted to bark, 1860; based at San Francisco, 1888-1889; condemned at Yokohama and sold, 1890

Bark, ex-ship, Hunter, 452 75/95 tons (355.13 tons, new register). Built at Gardiner, Maine, and registered at New Bedford, 1851; converted to bark, 1868; reregistered at San Francisco, 1881; last recorded whaling cruise, 1893

PLATE XIII

Bark Tropic Bird, 220 38/95 tons (150.48 tons, new register). Built at Dartmouth, Mass., and registered at New Bedford, 1851; condemned and sold at Bermuda, 1885

Bark, ex-ship, Lancer, 396 3/95 tons (295.53 tons, new register). Built at Newburyport, Mass., and registered at New Bedford, 1852; converted to bark, 1868; stationed at San Francisco after 1887; condemned at Vladivostok, 1890

PLATE XIV

Bark Mermaid, 326 35/95 tons (273.32 tons, new register). Built and registered at Westport, Mass., 1855; reregistered at New Bedford, 1880; reregistered at San Francisco after 1891 cruise; lost at Dutch Harbor, 1899

Bark Laconia, 157.91 tons. Built at Medford, Mass., 1860; reregistered at New Bedford, 1866; condemned at Mahé, 1879

PLATE XV

Bark Concordia, 368.58 tons. Built at Mattapoisett, Mass., and registered at New Bedford, 1867; wrecked in the Arctic, 1871 (Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Salem)

Steam bark Orca, 628.04 tons. Built and registered at San Francisco, 1882; lost in the ice off the Seahorse Islands southwest of Point Barrow, 1897 (Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Salem)

PLATE XVI

Steam bark Balaena, 523.63 tons. Built and registered at San Francisco, 1883; wintered at Herschel Island, 1892-1893; lost at St. Lawrence Island, 1901

Steam bark Navarch, 254.21 tons. Built and registered at Bath, Maine, 1892; reregistered at New Bedford the same year; reregistered at San Francisco, 1893; lost in the ice off Point Barrow, 1897 (Courtesy of the Bath Marine Museum, Bath, Maine)

PHOTOGRAPHS OF WHALING VESSELS: PART III

Vessels and Gear at Wharfside

PLATE XVII

Unknown vessel hove down for recoppering, probably before 1860. The vessel’s deck arrangement and fittings are characteristic of many early nineteenth-century whalers. Note the windlass abaft the foremast (two photographs

Ship Niger hove down, probably prior to her 1886 cruise. This picture has been previously misidentified as one of James Arnold and confused with a similar view of the latter published in Church’s Whale Ships and Whaling.

PLATE XVIII

Ship James Arnold hove down for recoppering. Date unknown

Ship James Arnold hove down with the rigger standing in the foreground. Date unknown (Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Salem)

PLATE XIX

Heaving down the bark Josephine, 384.54 tons, built at Bath, Maine, 1877. Heaving-down windlass with windlass gang in the foreground. Date unknown

Bark Mermaid on the marine railway at Fairhaven, Mass., 4 June 1891. The photograph was taken while she was being prepared for her first North Pacific cruise. Note the stem being blocked in with ice sheathing

PLATE XX

Ships and wharves along Front Street, near Middle Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts, circa 1869. The schooner behind the chimney is possibly Petrel, 59.01 tons, built at Newbury, Mass., 1840. The whalers at the adjacent wharf are (left to right): bark, ex-ship, Fanny, 390.86 tons, [continued in Plate XXI]

PLATE XXI

New York, 1822; unidentified bark; bark Eugenia (lower), 315.39 tons, Philadelphia, 1839; bark Louisa (middle), 303.65 tons, Baltimore, 1832; ship Swallow (upper), 326.91 tons, Fairhaven, 1856; ship Herald (wharf behind), 300.12 tons, Newbury, 1818; others unidentified

PLATE XXII

Bark Bertha, 177.37 tons, built at New Bedford, 1877, on the marine railway at Fairhaven. Date unknown

Bark Kathleen, 306 12/95 tons, built at Philadelphia, 1844. Shown at wharfside, fitting out

PLATE XXIII

Front Street, near Middle Street, New Bedford. James M. Snow, a shipsmith, first occupied the lower right building in partnership with Nathaniel S. Purrington, circa 1850

The Leonard whaleboat shop, probably at Acushnet, Mass., circa 1890. Ebenezer Leonard Jr. (center) and sons Charles F. (rear) and Eben F. (front)

PLATE XXIV

Whaleboat on wagon. Date unknown and builder unidentified

Turning a windlass barrel at New Bedford. Date unknown

PHOTOGRAPHS OF WHALING VESSELS: PART IV

Vessels at Sea

PLATE XXV

Bark Wanderer, 303.28 tons, built at Mattapoisett, Mass., 1878. Sailing day, circa 1920

PLATE XXVI

Ship James Arnold. Sailing day, circa 1890

Bark, ex-ship, Charles W. Morgan. Crew picking oakum abaft the tryworks

PLATE XXVII

Ship California, circa 1903. ‘Wash day’. Cooper or carpenter and assistants working at the bench

Ship California, circa 1903. Whaleboat drill in the tropics

PLATE XXVIII

Ship California, circa 1903. Whaleboat with bowhead whale in the North Pacific

Ship California, circa 1903. Upset whaleboat in the North Pacific

PLATE XXIX

Ship California, circa 1903. Unhinging a sperm whale’s jaw

Diesel auxiliary schooner Polar Bear, 81 tons, built at Seattle, 1911. Cutting in a bowhead whale during her whaling cruise, 1913-1914

PLATE XXX

Unknown vessel, circa 1890, cutting in a bowhead whale. (Above), bringing the upper jaw aboard. (Below), cleaning the baleen plates (whalebone)

PLATE XXXI

Ship California, circa 1903, in the North Pacific, trying out

Unidentified schooner, date unknown, cutting in a finback whale. The left view shows cutting staging in its pre-1860 form

PLATE XXXII

Whaling vessel at anchor at Horta, Fayal, circa 1910-1911. Identified schooners from left to right: Pedro Varela (white hull), Cameo, Bertha D. Nickerson. Identified barks from left to right: Platina (background), Morning Star, Bertha. Brig Viola at right. The remaining schooners at left rear are unidentified

Last Modified: May 3, 2014