September 1, 2020

This Week in Herreshoff History: September 3

HMCo. entertains important guests, notice of a lawsuit after a slippery launch, Lipton on the verge of losing again, and the kids head back to college

September 1, 1894

There are several Herreshoff mentions on the front page of the Phoenix on this day 126 years ago. The most notable concerns a visit to HMCo. by U.S. Navy Secretary Herbert and Commander George A. Converse of the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport. The party was delivered to Bristol from Newport aboard J.B.H.'s yacht VIVA (HMCo. #102, formerly of Oyster Police fame), and returned to Newport with a catered lunch aboard by the Hope Club of Providence. The Herreshoffs were clearly out to impress! Another short article at the bottom of the page notes how busy things are at HMCo., with two steam yachts under contract and "a large number of orders for other work in the same line..."

Letter from J.B. Herreshoff to Commander Converse dated March 17, 1896; image courtesy the SMU Libraries digital collections, George Albert Converse Papers

September 1, 1903

Notice appears in the Phoenix that The Herreshoff Company is being sued over a runaway launching incident. The vessels in question are HMCo.'s own INGOMAR (HMCo. #590) who is charged with having trespassed on the yawl JANET on June 24. According to the article, INGOMAR swung into JANET shortly after the former's launch, crushing the latter's cabin and breaking spars. L. Francis described the launching in The Wizard of Bristol but JANET is absent in his memory of the event: "'Ingomar' was built in the north shop and so had to be launched on greased ways. She took the water at good speed, perhaps ten miles an hour or more, and, after performing a graceful circle in the harbor, returned to nearly where she was launched still running stern first, and ran her stern up on the north wharf but did little damage to either herself or the wharf..."

Another article on the same page describes N.G.H. as a wizard in the context of the ongoing 1903 America's Cup series under way between RELIANCE (HMCo. #605) and SHAMROCK III. Lipton at this point has acknowledged defeat "even before the last race had been sailed..." He was quite correct.

September 3, 1909

Herreshoff sons A. Sidney, Nat Jr. and A. Griswold are headed back to school at MIT for the fall semester, following in their father's footsteps. Meanwhile, the Phoenix reports in its own "throwback" column that forty years prior in 1879, the United States School Ship CONSTELLATION under command of Captain F. B. McNair had arrived in Bristol for a tour. The officers were then treated to a ride on JAVELIN (HMCo. #52) and a sail on one of Captain Nat's catamarans (likely LODOLA), experiencing the full spectrum of the Herreshoff genius for - and obsession with - speed.

JAVELIN (HMCo. #52) later served as flagship of the U.S. Naval Academy fleet; image from the HMM historic photo archive

... finally, lest you think we forgot:

As promised, the answer to last week's eagle mystery: yes, it was RELIANCE who was launched with a stuffed eagle for a figurehead.