May 21, 2020

This Week in Herreshoff History: May 21

Launching season continues, spotlight on a related artifact, a somber auction, a happier occasion a year later, and repairs at HMCo.'s Walkers Cove facility and marine rail

May 20, 1893

The Bristol Phoenix reports Monday evening a few minutes past 7 o'clock the first of the four America cup defenders, bearing the name of "Colonia," [HMCo. #435, later CORONA] was successfully launched from the Herreshoff Company's Yard in this town." COLONIA (HMCo. #435) was the first Cup Defender Candidate designed and built by HMCo. following the death of Edward Burgess - America's go-to Cup designer prior to Captain Nat - in 1891. As we've written about here previously, she didn't make it past the selection trials against another HMCo. designed-and-built defender that same year, VIGILANT (HMCo. #437). Even so, she had a long and successful career racing and cruising after her conversion to a schooner rig. Today at HMM one of our largest and most beautifully executed rigged models in our collection is a model of the schooner-rigged CORONA (as COLONIA was re-named in 1900) that was built in 1903 by New York based model builder and artist Gustave Grahn (1833 - 1908). According to his 1908 obituary in the New York Daily Tribune, at the time of his death Grahn had built "all of the models of the America's Cup defenders in the New York Yacht Club house... and he constructed models of vessels owned by many of the royal families in Europe." He was also one of the founding members of the American Model Yacht Club.

Above and below: details of Grahn's CORONA (ex-COLONIA) model in the HMM Collection, built ca. 1903 and donated to the museum in 2012.

May 22, 1917

A somber announcement appears in the Bristol Phoenix on this day 103 years ago: the sale of the late John B. Herreshoff's estate would be taking place that Thursday and Friday at 84 High St. in Bristol. You can read more about the affects of J.B.H.'s death on HMCo. in our recent Curator's Log post about the Pandemic of 1918.

May 21, 1918

A spot of bright news amidst wartime coverage: a description of a Herreshoff family wedding (Captain Nat's son, N.G.H. Jr., to Miss Helen B. Warren) in which the bride wore a gray traveling suit and the groom a "military uniform of olive drab." The flowers were snap dragons and "Jack roses." The wedding was small and informal but attended by several family members as listed in the article. In the same edition of the Phoenix, coverage of the continuing reconstruction of the Walker's Cove HMCo. facilities also notes the marine rail there will be extended.