December 22, 2022
From the Vault: Holiday Tidings from the HMM Collection
A selection of Vintage Holiday Cards
The HMM archive holds a number of vintage holiday cards sent to (and between!) Herreshoff family members from the 1930s through the 1950s. In honor of the season & coming new year, we thought we would share a selection of maritime-themed cards with you. Scroll below to read more about each holiday greeting; we hope you find them as charming as we do.
Captain Nat’s eldest and only daughter Agnes Herreshoff (1894-1965) was an avid and prolific photographer, documenting all manner of vessels encountered on summer family cruises aboard ROAMER (HMCo. #215) and HELIANTHUS I (HMCo. #288), II (HMCo. #299) and III (HMCo. #378).
This undated card shows the famous schooner YANKEE, which Irving and Electa (Exy) Johnson used to circumnavigate the globe with a mix of professional and amateur sailors. Becky and Agnes Herreshoff were both very involved with the Bristol chapter of the Girl Scout Mariners, from whose ranks several young women were chosen to serve as crew members for sail training cruises aboard YANKEE.
MINX (HMCo. #1376), Becky Chase Herreshoff’s beloved 12 1/2, is featured on this undated holiday card from A. Sidney Herreshoff’s family.
This card from the Rockwell family features the cruising yawl BELISARIUS (HMCo. #1266), designed especially for them by Captain Nat in 1934-1935. BELISARIUS was Captain Nat’s very last design, and is part of the HMM collection on display in the Hall of Boats today.
Inside, this foil stamped card reads “Greetings of the Season, from Carol and Carl Haffenreffer et. al.* – *Pretzel – Mr. Mickie MacGregor – Lady Babs”. We’re not sure which dog is which, but the Haffenreffers are part of the family that purchased HMCo. in 1924 and operated the Company until the winter of 1944-1945.
This 1948 print by artist Nelson H. White features the TABOR BOY of Tabor Academy. The White family of Waterford CT owned the Herreshoff yawl AIDA (HMCo. #1002) from the 1930s through the 1950s.
This card from Patty Munroe features WATER LILY (HMCo. #982), Captain Nat’s very last sailboat. N.G.H. gifted WATER LILY to Commodore Ralph Munroe’s daughter in the 1930s when his own sailing days were at an end. Patty featured the boat in this Christmas card to the Herreshoffs, ca. 1930-1931.
Marine artist Yngve Edward Soderberg (1896-1972) illustrated this busy riverside scene for an undated Lathrop Engine Company holiday card. The Lathrop Engine Co. was based in Mystic, CT and this illustration shows the breadth of their work – they handled everything from the local fishing fleet to the power cruiser pictured here having an engine installed. HMCo. were very occasional Lathrop customers, with only two Lathrop engines recorded as being originally installed in HMCo. vessels in 1912 and 1919.
MIT is visible in the background of this photo of Tech dinghies racing on the Charles. George Owen (1877-1959) was a close family friend of the Herreshoffs and as a young man, worked in the HMCo. drafting office. The Owen family owned several Herreshoff yachts, and later in his career Owen became a professor of naval architecture at MIT. The Owen Collection is held as part of the Hart Nautical Collections at the MIT Museum today.
Captain George H. Monsell (1881-1951) sent this card featuring the J-Boat RANGER, with the wish inscribed inside “hold to light to see Ranger returning”. Monsell was sailing master for three of Harold S. Vanderbilt’s America’s Cup yachts: ENTERPRISE (HMCo. #1146), RAINBOW (HMCo. #1233) and RANGER.