Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Whaling Journal of Edward S. Tucker of the Barque Marcella. Tall folio book, 13. 5" x 8.25", 200 pages of entries (54 pages blank), bound in quarter leather with marbled boards, covering a whaling voyage in the Atlantic and Indian oceans from April 5, 1847 to February 23, 1850. The journal contains 25 whale stamps, indicating whales caught, and 77 whale tail stamps, indicating whales chased and lost.

    Edward S. Tucker, the recorder of the journal, was listed as a "boatsteerer" on the New Bedford, Massachusetts, whaler Marcella, a member of the crew of a whaling boat who pulls the forward oar until reaching striking distance, harpoons the whale, and then steers while the another member of the boat lances the whale. The Chief or First Mate would have kept the official log of the voyage, thus this journal is an unofficial record of the activities of the whaling ship. A journal such as this was similar to a logbook in that that it records the same information found in logbooks, including the date, the position of the vessel, the sail she was under, the wind speed and direction, activities of the crew, vessels encountered, and whales seen and taken.

    Tucker's first entry on Monday, April 5, is typical of the entries that comprise this journal. "First part foggy. Middle part much the Same. Latter part fine Weather. At 9 AM Took our Anchor and put to Sea wind from N. NW steering SW. Engaged in Stowing the anchors. So ends these 24 hours."

    During its third week at sea (as well as throughout the voyage), as the Marcella sailed southward in the Atlantic Ocean, it encountered and chased several finback whales, but its crew was less interested in wasting time pursuing these types of whales because they were too fast to catch. Other types of whales, such as sperm whales, were prime targets, however. On April 25, 1847, Tucker recorded the first sighting of the kind of whales they desired. "Saw Sperm Whales to the leeward. Lowered down and gave chase S Boat Struck & drawed L & P Boat Struck and kiled [sic] these wheales [sic] & took them along side." The next four days were spent cutting up the whales, boiling the blubber in order to turn it into oil, and cleaning the bone for sale. For example, Tucker's entry for April 27 notes that the crew was "employed in cutting up blubber" and "clearing away heads getting ready for boiling." It was not until a month later, on May 25, 1847, when the Marcella encountered more whales: "Saw a Scholl [sic] of Whales lowered and gave Chase W Boat struck and kild [sic] him. Took him A long Side." Four days later, on the May 29, the crew sighted and chased a blackfish whale "Without Suckcess [sic]."

    After departing New Bedford, the Marcella sailed southward in the Atlantic Ocean, passing the coasts of the United States and South America before heading toward the Indian Ocean in September. During the way, its crew saw more finback whales and chased a number of blackfish whales, with some success. However, these successes did not appear noteworthy, at least according to Tucker, as those that warranted whale stamps in his journal, such as the killing of sperm whales. After passing the Cape of Good Hope, the Marcella entered the Indian Ocean in late October 1847, where it encountered finbacks, blackfish and humpback whales. On November 14, the crew saw a "Schole [sic] of Sperm Whales" and killed one. The next day Tucker recorded that the crew another sperm whale. According to Tucker, the crew failed to land sperm whales on November 21 and November 24. On the latter date, he wrote that "At 8 lowered for A Schole [sic] Sperm Whales. At 10 came on Board without Success." On December 10, however, the crew killed two sperm whales and one on December 31.

    In early February 1848, as the Marcella was cruising around the channel between Africa and Madagascar, the crew saw several schools of Whales. Tucker reported on February 2 a sighting of a school of whales and the vessel made chase, catching a whale the next day: "at 12 ½ lowered all the boats in pursuit of the Whales. At 2PM came on board & the S Boat having a whale. At 8 ½ commenced cutting. At 6 finished." Another whale was killed two days later. Weeks without seeing whales was followed by several attempts in April. It was not until the Marcella was off the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean that its crew caught four whales. The whales were caught on April 30 and brought on board the next day, May 1: "At 3PM took 4 Whales to the Ship. At 4 commenced cutting at 5 finished cutting and Whales cleaned up and made preparations for Boiling." Cruising around the Indian Ocean as far west as Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the Marcella saw few whales between early May and late December 1848, and did not catch one until December 29.

    The Marcella began its homeward voyage in January 1850, after spending more than two years sailing in the Indian Ocean. After rounding the Cape of Good Hope in late January, the vessel began its journey through the Atlantic Ocean back to New Bedford, arriving home on April 18, 1850, completing a journey that lasted three years and thirteen days. During the voyage, the Marcella caught 25 whales and failed to catch 77.

    In addition to the 195 pages of daily entries, the journal contains two pages of Tucker's personal credit and debit accounts, the latter listed $2 received on March 23, 1848 for "my Share of the Tallow Sold at the Island of Johanna"; a list of ships encountered by the Marcella; and a never completed list of whales taken the boats of the Marcella.

    Condition: The spine of the journal has several small chips and the hinges show wear; edges of covers chipped and worn, toning to pages, slight loss of marbled cover in places; internally very good condition. Overall good.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    18th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,456

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 33 days left to consign to the 2020 March 4 Rare Books Signature Auction Books Signature Auction - New York !

    Learn about consigning with us

    The resulting auction of my property overwhelmed me. I want to thank Tom Slater and the Heritage team for a very satisfactory experience and profitable result with my historical consignment.
    Henry L.,
    Lexington, KY
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 December 8 Civil War, Militaria, Arms & Armor Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 December 8 Civil War, Militaria, Arms & Armor Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $933,431