November 12, 2020

This Week in Herreshoff History: November 12

A very strange ad, a copper mystery, the first of a new class, two large vessels under construction, and the end of the Great War

November 13, 1877

What on Earth does this have to do with Herreshoff you ask?! Head on over to this week's "From the Vault" post to read all about it!

November 12, 1897

Twenty years later and shades of the previous story come back to haunt us on the eve of the Spanish-American War. In a column this week, the Bristol Phoenix pokes fun at a serial tale recounted in the Providence Journal that should sound suspiciously familiar to close readers. On the practical front, why was copper the key element in this particular thriller? Before the invention of modern bottom paints, vessels were protected from ship worms and other damaging marine organisms by covering boat bottoms in copper sheathing. Copper is poisonous to marine life and this protective layer would keep the critters at bay. It was rather expensive to implement, and also costly in that subsequent maintenance of bottom was complicated by the extra barrier and layer of sacrificial pine sheathing it often attached to. However, a trip to warmer climes in particular would necessitate some measure of protection, as marine growth is accelerated in warmer water.

November 8 and 12, 1901

The Phoenix reports that work on the marine railway at Walker's Cove continues and YOUNG MISS (HMCo. #560) has been launched. YOUNG MISS (HMCo. #560) was the first of 14 Buzzards Bay 30s built between 1901 and 1902. Unlike their Bar Harbor cousins, these 30s were designed with centerboards for the shallower waters of Buzzards Bay. Just a few days later N.G.H. has reportedly been out for a trial spin along with three prospective owners, all of whom were reportedly very pleased with the vessel's performance. Almost half of the class - six of the original 14 boats, including YOUNG MISS - still exist today.

A stunning shot of YOUNG MISS (HMCo. #560), photographed by Nathaniel Stebbins in 1902; image courtesy the Historic New England Nathaniel L. Stebbins Photographic Collection

November 14, 1902

A new building goes up at HMCo., Morton T. Plant's schooner is underway and Mr. Iselin is on campus to check out the latest and greatest America's Cup Defender, according to the Phoenix. M.T. Plant's schooner-to-be was INGOMAR (HMCo. #590) but her construction would be delayed by Mr. Iselin's RELIANCE (HMCo. #605) as there wasn't room to build both enormous vessels simultaneously as well as the other contracts HMCo. already had underway. If you haven't watched it yet, check out Halsey Herreshoff's 2004 lecture on INGOMAR here!

RELIANCE under construction

November 8 and 12, 1918

The Bristol Phoenix reports that the end of the Great War is in sight and factories in Bristol - including HMCo. - closed for the day in celebration. On the 12th it is announced that the Company will be closed for the remainder of the week in celebration, and the Herreshoff Band is reportedly overbooked. You can read more about how HMCo. and Bristol were impacted during WWI in our From the Vault post about the Pandemic of 1918. While HMCo. did not cease production the following year on November 11, Armistice Day would go on to become an observed holiday for HMCo. workers in the 1920s. To all of our veterans out there, we thank you for your service.