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    Description

    Whaling Log for the Brig Quito. Spanning the period July 1846 through March 1851, the journal, comprised of approximately 148 pages of entries, contains day-by-day accounts of three distinct voyages in at least two separate hands. The book itself, measuring 8.5" x 14", is half-bound in leather over marbled boards. The front inside board is covered with newspaper clippings of poetry and humor.

    The first (and earliest documented) voyage begins on June 15, 1846, as the Brig Quito sets sail from Sippican, Massachusetts, on a whaling voyage through the Atlantic Ocean. Each entry includes weather conditions for the day, wind direction, rain showers, etc. In addition, several entries indicate the location of the ship using longitude and latitude coordinates. Drawings of maritime scenes are scattered throughout, some of which are hand-colored, such as a drawing of the Quito and the capture of the last whale (September 11, 1847).

    The author, who is unknown (but may be Clifford Dunham), notes several species of whale sighted including orca (variously called "blackfish" or, simply, "killers"), sperm whales, humpback whales, finbacks (or fin whales), and grampuses. For whale sightings, a small whale's tail is drawn in the margins (at least twenty-four are marked in this fashion). Each occasion a whale is killed, a small drawing of a whale or a stamp in the form of a sperm whale and humpback is employed. There are no less than forty whales taken and noted as such. In each case, the initials "S.B," "L.B," or "W.B." is placed near the drawing.

    During the course of the voyage, the brig encounters other ships, either merchant vessels or fellow whaling ships returning stateside with their haul. A stamp bearing the likeness of a sailing ship was often used to denote such sightings. At least nineteen different ships (noted with the stamp) were seen or encountered in the course of the voyage.

    The Quito had been at sea for nearly two weeks before they spotted their first whale, as recounted in an entry dated June 28, 1846: "saw several finbacks [Fin whales] at night." It would be a few days more before the first sperm whale was sighted: "July 1st . . . at 5 ½ raised a Sperm Whale . . . at dark came aboard without seeing the whale again." Two days later, the crew had their first kill: "at 7 A.M. lowared [crews would lower smaller boats to give chase to the whales] for blackfish struck and killed one and brought him along side." The whale is then processed over several days. One group of entries spanning July 31 (1847) through August 2 provides excellent insight into the process, as written: "1 P.M. struck a cow and calf killed them at 4 P.M. commenced towing . . . at 5 A.M. got the whales down to the leward of island where the brig lay but she had got under weight and could not gain her anchorage again at 5 took the whal along side Latter part commenced cuting." The next day the crew was "employed in cuting out the bluber" and the day following found them "employed in boiling." This process was used to extract the valuable oil used not only in oil lamps, but also in soaps. Having sailed from the eastern shores of America to Africa and on to "the Brazils," the Quito finally returns home to Massachusetts on November 11, 1847.

    The second half of the log is comprised of to two additional voyages. The first , titled "A Journal kept on board Sch[ooner] Two Brothers of Nantucket E. Baldwin Master from Holmes Hole[?] to San Francisco commencing Aug 14th 1849," recounts the day-to-day conditions experienced by men from Martha's Vineyard on their way to California to partake in the 1849 gold rush. The final journey begins January 6, 1851, onboard the Brig Margaret and terminates at the end of the book on March 18, 1851, while "Laying at Paita [possibly Peru]."

    Areas of foxing are scattered throughout and the pages show the expected toning. Some bleed-through of the ink is evident. Overall, the text is very bold and bright and provides a fascinating narrative.




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    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    3rd Thursday
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