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    Description

    Ship's Log for the Brig Himmaleh. This beautifully written ship's log, comprised of 234 pages spanning the dates March 25, 1836, through March 18, 1838, was kept by Alexander V. Fraser (1804-1868), master of the Himmaleh during her voyage. Fraser began his career aboard a merchant vessel involved in trade in the East Indies. In 1832, he joined the Department of the Treasury's Revenue Marine, an armed customs enforcement group who was the forerunner of the modern U.S. Coast Guard, as a second lieutenant aboard the ship Alert. In 1836, he took a leave of absence from the Revenue Marine to command the Himmaleh.

    Each entry contains a very detailed description of the weather (ex. "Gale still continuing with unabated violence and a tremenduous [sic] sea"), air and water temperatures, barometric pressure (using an instrument of "Megary's manufacture"), geographical location of the ship, and distance traveled that day (by log).

    The ship began its two year journey to the East Indies when it set sail from New York City on March 25, 1836. Just two days out, Fraser makes a note regarding his new ship and her crew: "March 27, 1836 . . . She sails fast . . . under single reefed top sails . . . I find much to my satisfaction that I have capable officers and a good crew." By April 5, boredom begins to set in: "Time begins now to pass heavily. the daily occurrences become monotonous." Along the way, Fraser notes the appearances of unfamiliar ships, "April 6, 1836 . . . Just before sunset discovered two sail to windward made them out from aloft to be a rakish and rather suspicious looking pale rigged Brig and Topsail Schooner"; animal sightings such as whales, flying fish, and sharks, "Caught a Shark 10 feet long and in which were 37 young ones full of life and activity the skin I use for scouring the decks"; and illness aboard the ship, including his own, "June 28, 1836 . . . I was last night severely attacked with palpitation of the heart severe pain shooting upon the most trifling execution . . . making respiration very painful." As part of his treatment, he "applied a large Blister to my breast."

    The crew reached Indonesia on July 7, spotting the peak of the volcano Krakatoa as they approached. On August 7, they anchored at "Capsing Moon," a location known to be frequented by opium smugglers (likely modern Lintin Island, located between Hong Kong and Macau). In September 1837, after nearly thirteen months trading in the East Indies, the Himmaleh made the long journey back to New York. From the Donald P. Dow Collection.



    More Information:

    Upon his return, to the United States, Fraser rejoined the Revenue Marine and was posted back on the Alert as first lieutenant. He was named captain of the cutter Ewing in 1842 and, the following year, he was named the first chief of the Revenue Marine Bureau by Secretary of the Treasury John C. Spencer. As head of the new bureau, Fraser forbade the drinking of alcohol aboard revenue ships as well as the use of slave labor; he increased the wages of enlisted men and non-commissioned officers; and supported the creation of iron ships over wooden vessels. He served as the chief of the bureau until 1848 whereby he took command of the cutter Lawrence, bound for San Francisco. Arriving during the Gold Rush, several of his crew deserted to seek their fortunes. He returned to New York in 1852, but was removed from the Revenue Marine after he came into conflict with the assistant secretary of the navy, circa 1856.



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    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
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