Compass from the Robert Edwards Whaleboat of New Bedford - Antique Associated At West Townsend

Compass from the Robert Edwards Whaleboat of New Bedford

Gimbled Dry Card Ship Compass, C.R. Sherman & Co., New Bedford

Compass from the Robert Edwards Whaleboat of New Bedford

Compass from the Larboard whaleboat of the Whaleship Robert Edwards of New Bedford. A rare example of an American whaleboat compass with early painted LB for Larboard boat on chamfered sliding lid; Masonic compass and square painted of the front of compass box. On the underside of wooden lid is a pencil written legend stating “Ship Robert Edwards” with several numbers follow which appear to report barrels of sperm oil taken. There is also a signature at the bottom. This nautical dry-card compass within a turned wooden bowl gimbal mounted in a wooden slide lid box.

The Robert Edwards had a long and varied history. Being built in New York in 1817, and continued in service for much, or possible all, of its career as a New Bedford Whaler until burned by its crew several hundred miles off Rio Janeiro [sic]. The Whalemen’s Shipping List first reports on September 13th, 1870 that the Robert Edwards was burned at sea on July 24th, and the crew rescued by the Mary Rico of Baltimore. On October 25th, 1870, the same reported the Robert Edwards was set on fire by 4 of her crew who were taken into custody in Rio to be sent to the United States. One of the perpetrators, John Jansen, jumped overboard and disappeared while the rest of the crew fought the blaze. On March 14th of 1871 it was reported that three remaining seamen had been to trial with one being found guilty, and the jury was unable to agree on the other 2 defendants. The penalty for the offence is death! Charles R. Sherman, (flourished 1865-1905) dealer in nautical, mathematical, and optical instruments, charts, nautical books, patent logs, stationery, &c., no. 49 North Water Street, New Bedford Charles Sherman was active as an instrument maker in New Bedford from 1849-1865 thereafter adding ‘& Co’.

Item Date: 19th Century, Likely Late 1860s

Measurement: The box: 5" x 8" x 7.5"

Material: Brass, wood, paper

Item Condition: Generally good, commensurate with age and use; typical shrinkage crack to rim of bowl, original green, and red paint; Masonic compass and square in black. One hanging cleat missing.

Price: $2,265

SKU 879-144

For More Information, Please Contact David Hillier at 978-597-8084 or email

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