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    Description

    Gold Chronometer Presented by the British Government to an American Captain for Saving the Crew of Notorious Civil War Blockade Runner Perthshire, 1864. This magnificent timepiece was made by Brockbank & Atkins of London. The 18k gold, 49 mm case, with an engine turned back, has a gold dust cover with inscription, "Presented by the / British Government / to Captn Sherman Lewis / of the U.S. Barque / 'Stampede' of New York / for his humanity to the Crew / of the Ship / 'Perthshire' / of Hartlepool / in Feby 1864". The white enamel dial has Roman numerals and subsidiary seconds. The mechanism is a spring detent chronometer with diamond end stone on the balance, helical blue steel hairspring, key wind and key set gilt half plate movement. The case and dial in very good condition, movement ticks and runs in the dial up position but stops in the dial down position.

    In late March of 1861 the British ship the Perthshire, out of Hartlepool, set sail for the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. One of its scheduled stops was Pensacola, Florida where it was to receive a shipment of lumber. However, events in North America were happening with lightning speed. On April 12, 1861, forces of the newly formed Confederate States of America opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. A week later, President Abraham Lincoln established a naval blockade of selected southern ports, among them Pensacola. When the Perthshire was making for port, on May 13, 1861, she was ordered to heave to by the United States Steamship Niagara. The American captain informed the captain of the Perthshire that the port of Pensacola was included in Lincoln's blockade order. Upon inquiry, the captain of the Perthshire was told the port of Mobile, Alabama was not on the list of blockaded ports. It would not be added until May 26, 1861. The Perthshire proceeded to Mobile to receive a scheduled shipment of cotton. Leaving Mobile, the ship was stopped by the United States Navy gunship USS Massachusetts. The captain of the American warship, Melancton Smith, took the officers and crew of the Perthshire into custody and put a prize crew aboard the British ship. Eventually the Perthshire and her crew were released. The incident sparked a heated diplomatic exchange between the British and the United States governments. To defuse the situation, President Lincoln requested that Congress appropriate funds to compensate the owners of the Perthshire. Throughout the Civil War the ship continued to transport cargo, often of questionable origin.

    The Perthshire's luck ran out in early 1864 when she was caught in a storm and foundered. The officers and crew would have been lost had it not been for the United States Barque Stampede out of New York. The British government presented this exceptional chronometer to Captain Sherman Lewis of the Stampede for his humanitarian actions in saving the lives of the crew of a known blockade runner.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2011
    25th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,046

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