Description

    Whaling Journal for the Brig March Recorded by Master Seth Weeks. Approximately 140 pages of entries in a tall folio book, 8.25" x 13", covering two journeys made during the period June 6, 1846 through July 25, 1850. Journal contains approximately thirteen whale drawings, 22 whale tails, and numerous other drawings to record sightings of blackfish, phinbacks, et al. The last page lists the numbers of barrels of oil taken on board during the course of the voyage.

    Seth Weeks writes his name on the front pastedown, and again on a sheet midway through the book designating the second journey. Our research indicates that there is a strong likelihood that the Seth Weeks who commanded the brig March is the same Seth Weeks who served as a sailor on the ill-fated Essex. The story of the Essex was immortalized in Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick, which was inspired by the narrative written by crewmember Owen Chase. The Essex was a 238 ton whaler that set out for the Pacific under the command of Captain George Pollard sometime in August of 1819. A few months into the voyage, while in pursuit of a shoal of whale, the Essex was rammed by a large white whale and suffered irreparable damage. The crew of 20 men was left adrift with only three small boats at their disposal. The men first sought refuge on a small island, and after a few days, 17 of the crew of 20 selected to return to sea and try to find their way to better shores. The harrowing stories experienced by the men were filled with hardship, murder, and cannibalism. Seth Weeks was one of the three men who chose to stay on the island; more than three months later, the three men were rescued. Of the original crew of 20, only eight survived. Weeks would have been a young man in his late teens or early 20s at the time he served on the Essex, making him about mid 40s when he served as Master of the March. Weeks would not be the only survivor of the Essex to return to sea on a whaler. In addition to Weeks, Owen Chase went on to become a successful whaling captain.

    A meticulous record keeper, Weeks records all longitudes and latitudes as well as noting daily barometric readings. His entries for the week of May 17, 1847 read in part:

    "May Monday 17, 1847 / These 24 hours begin with strong gales from WSW steering be the N and West. Short Sail middle and latter port moderate at 8 AM rose a Large whale lowered our boats and took him alongside but his head of CC this is a blessing given to us by the ruler of the great deep and I am thankful for it... [beneath this entry is a drawing of a large drawing of a whale]
    Tuesday 18 These 24 hours commences with fair weather this day hit in our Large whale had a good time we have [the rest of the entry is illegible]
    Wednesday 19 These 24 hours begins with moderate some in showing to rain middle and latter part strong breeze from ENE and squally We are happy to have and opportunity of loading a Large Whale
    Thursday 20 These 24 hours begins with strong breezes employed in Boiling middle and latter part the same
    Friday 21 These 24 hours begin with the wind at ENE
    May Saturday 22 These 24 hours begins with good weather employed un storing down our oil so ends fair weather
    Sunday 23 These 24 hours begins with fair and pleasant..
    Monday 24 These 24 hours begins with fair and handsome weather middle and latter part moderate. Saw porpoises
    Tuesday 25 These 24 hours fair moderate, middle and latter part the same at 5 PM saw a 5 sperm Whales going SSW quick lowerd boats and gilled them
    Wednesday 26 These 24 hours begins with good weather. Latter squally at 4 pm saw sperm whales lowered the ship gulled them
    "

    The book has a sturdy spine, quarter leather binding. Heavy wear to covers. The first sheet is disbound from the book, remaining pages are intact with some toning. Ink is crisp, and overall content indicates heavy whaling activity.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    8th-9th Tuesday-Wednesday
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