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Featured on our web site and in our monthly web catalogues are new and out-of-print books, documents, post cards, photographs, maps and charts, engravings, lithographs, uniforms and insignia, tools, lamps, lens apparatus, equipment and apparatus and much more relating to these heroic services.
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Boston Lighthouse - Boston Harbor
Boston Harbor Lighthouses
We are continually acquiring wonderful and rare original antiques and implements Below are photos and information. Inquiries welcomed.
Just in! Wonderful early photos and history:
16122. Snowman, Sally R. and James G. Thompson. Boston Light. Arcadia. 2016. 128p. Hard cover. With over 200 vintage photographs. On September 14, 1716, Boston Light became the first lighthouse established in Colonial America. With many ships foundering in the treacherous waters of the Massachusetts harbor, there was a great need for navigational aid. At night and during storms, it was difficult to discern the entrance to the main shipping channel of Nantasket Roads, situated between the Brewster islands and the town of Hull. The ledges had become a graveyard for ships, resulting in great loss to human life and cargoa deterrent to European colonization efforts. Ship captains and merchants petitioned the colonial government for a lighthouse to be erected on Little Brewster Island as a way of safe passage to the inner harbor. Three hundred years later, Boston Light continues to serve its purpose. Today, the lighthouse is protected by an ever-present Coast Guard civilian keeper and a cadre of specially trained Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer assistant keepers. Sally Snowman is the 70th Keeper of Boston Light. With her husband, Jay Thomson, they have done extensive historical research on this distinctive piece of Americana. Highly recommended for readers interested in history, New England, lighthouses, sea stories. This compact volume features numerous early photographs dating from the 1870’s to the present, drawn from the author’s and other private collections, most never before published, and traces the history of this light station through photos and text. Filled with early views. (M). $24.99. Our price $22. (x)
16171. Baltrusis, Sam. Haunted Boston Harbor. 2016. The History Press. 144p. Soft wraps. With 56 b/w images. Ghosts lurk in the waters near Boston’s historic seaport, haunting the secluded islands scattered throughout the harbor. Boston Harbor brims with the restless spirits of pirates, prisoners and victims of disease and injustice. Uncover the truth behind the Lady in Black on Georges Island. Learn about the former asylums on Long Island that inspired the movie Shutter Island, and dig up the skeletal secrets left behind by the Woman in Scarlet Robes. From items flying off the shelves at a North End cigar shop to the postmortem cries of tragedy at the centuries-old Boston Light on Little Brewster, author Sam Baltrusis breathes new life into the horrors that occurred in the historic waters surrounding Boston. Great reading. (M). $19.99. (x)
2073. Snowman, Sally R. PH.D., and James G. Thomson. BOSTON LIGHT, A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE. Plymouth, Mass. 1999. 280p. Soft wraps. Well illustrated with over 120 photographs (80 in color) and illustrations. This is one of the few books ever book to detail the entire history of America’s first light station and what life was like on Little Brewster Island since 1611. Boston Light Station, established in 1716, is America’s first lighthouse and the only station still staffed by Coast Guard personnel. This most interesting volume presents 283 years of history and is the result of over five years of intensive research. The authors, Sally R. Snowman, PH.D. and James G. Thomson have painstakingly provided the reader with a wealth of information on one of the most historic sites in America. Well supplemented with numerous documents, photographs, floor plans, diagrams and more. Included is a lengthy chronological listing of events relating to the station, listing of keepers, detailed bibliographical notes, and more. Great reading and a most useful reference. Out of print. (M). $55.
24349. [chart]. United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. BOSTON HARBOR. From a survey in 1896, 25th edition of March 1948. Original 5-color chart measures 34” x 44”, on heavyweight paper. Includes all of the coastline and the entire Boston Harbor area from Chelsea and Winthrop south to Cohasset. Includes all lighthouses, lightships and Coast Guard stations. Rolled and two folds as original, some expected soiling and wear to edges. Scale 1” = 700 yards [1/25,000]. Chart is quite desirable for framing and is as original. Buoys are highlighted in red. Good for matting and framing. (VG-). $34.
(framed photographic portrait) Keeper Wesley A. Pingree,
Deer Island Light Station, Boston Harbor c.1895. Early 16” x 20
portrait photograph shows Keeper Wesley A. Pingree in uniform. Measuring 25” x
21” overall, the lovely period piece was made using a photo transfer process
on fine stretched linen colloquially called a “mod podge”, wherin a photo
sensitive gel was put on a canvas and then the original photo is pressed on the
canvas and the image transfers onto the canvas.
May 3, 1893 Albert M. Horte was made keeper at Boston Light Station. His sister
Josephine played about the island, sometimes turning cartwheels over the old fog
cannon which had been brought to the island in 1719.
relinquished his post to Henry L. Pingree, who served as Principal Keeper from
1894-1909. He had served as second asst., 1886-1888 and first asst., 1888-1892.
Pingree’s son Wesley A. had served as First Assistant at Deer Island Light
from 1893-1894, then transferring to Boston Light to serve as his father’s
First Assistant from 1894-1895. While at Boston Light, Wesley became interested
in Horte’s sister Josephine. Wesley and Josephine would later be married,
spending their honeymoon at Deer Island Light.
1895 Wesley was promoted to Principal Keeper at Deer Island Light, where he
would serve until 1899, one of the longer stays in the station's history. It was
during this period that this portrait was made. The new light at Deer Island
went into service on January 26, 1890, with a fixed white light interrupted by a
red flash every 30 seconds, 57 feet above mean high water. The lens revolved by
means of a clockwork mechanism that had to be periodically wound by hand. A fog
bell was mounted on the lower gallery deck, with striking machinery that
produced a single blow every 10 seconds.
first bad storm while Wesley was keeper at Deer Island Light occurred December
16, 1896, when the schooner Ulrica went ashore on Nantasket Beach. The crew was
rescued by the Hull life-savers. Pingree was also keeper during the famous
Portland Gale of November 1898. Many vessels were wrecked in the storm,
including the steamer Portland, which was carrying nearly 200 people from Boston
to Portland, Maine. Keeper Pingree later described his experience of the storm
to historian Edward Rowe Snow:
“At two o'clock in the
afternoon the ocean was as smooth as glass. At five p.m. it had started snowing
and the wind was coming up. A little later the Bangor boat went by but returned
to the harbor, as the sea was rapidly getting worse. At 7 p.m. the Portland came
down the channel, and the other boat, anchored in President Road, whistled a
warning to her. At this time the waves were hitting so high that I was lashing
my dory fast to the light.” Pingree rode out the storm inside the lighthouse,
keeping watch all night. All told, 141 vessels were wrecked and 456 lives were
lost in the Portland Gale, one of the worst storms in recorded New England
Keeper Pingree is shown wearing
the regulation double breasted lighthouse keeper's uniform with the 1890's style
gilt buttons marked "U.S.L.H.E." (U.S. Lighthouse Establishment). He
also wears the regulation gilt embroidered insignia on the lapel with a “K”
in the center for "principal keeper."
At the top left is a difficult to see 5 inch tight rip with an old tape repair as shown on the back. The other 2 tape patches are insignificant. Portrait came directly from the heirs and has never been offered for sale or seen before. Label on back reads: “This is my Grandpa Pingree – Wesley Pingree. Light House Keeper Deer [Island] Light – Boston. Died in 1936. My mother’s father.”
Superb image has some condition issues but displays wonderfully. At the top left is a 5 inch tight tear in the canvas with an old tape on the reverse. Two other slight tape repairs on back. In replacement mat, in early wide pine frame. (VG). $595.
5507h. (stereoview) Boston Harbor Narrows ["Bug"] Lighthouse c.1880. Superb original stereoview by G. W. Tirrell 2nd provides a clear, close view of Boston Harbor Narrows ["Bug"] Lighthouse at low tide. At the railing can be seen the keeper’s family posing for the camera. Built in 1856, Bug Light stood until 1929 to warn mariners of the dreaded Harding’s Ledge, four miles to the southeast. The lantern was about thirty-five feet above sea level, and when a sea captain brought Bug Light in range with Long Island Head Light, he knew that he was clear of Harding’s Ledge and could safely enter the harbor. View is clear and clean, just light wear to mount edges. (VG+). $134.
13326. (photo) Boston Light Station – A Stop on Route of Flying Santa Claus” c.1939. 7” x 9”. Clear large b/w press photograph shows a great view of the entire Boston Light Station on Little Brewster Island. Includes keepers’ houses, fog signal building, oil house, light tower, boathouse and more. Description notes that this os one of the stops on the route of Capt. William H. Wincapaw, “Flying Santa Claus”, who carries out annual Christmas Day flight to lighthouses and Coast Guard stations….” Clear, original print, includes date and description on back. Dated December 23, 1939. (VG+). $38.
13139a. (calendar) Victory Ship “Ames Victory” – Boston Light calendar for year 1946. Lovely wall calendar features an actual 4” x 4 ½” photo of the Victory Ship “Ames Victory” in 1945, mounted on a calendar with wonderful print of the artist A. Acorn’s painting of Boston Light . The “Ames Victory” was a U.S. War Shipping Administration vessel launched in Portland, Oregon in 1945. She served at the Battle for Okinawa where on May 4, shell fragments hit the chief mate on board. This ship claimed hits on the plane which crashed into the Birmingham. Calendar sheet is for December 1946. Only light wear, very light soiling. Displays well. (VG-). $22.
13139b. (calendar) Victory Ship “Morgantown Victory” – Boston Light calendar for year 1947. Lovely wall calendar features an actual 4” x 4 ½” photo of the Victory Ship “Morgantown Victory” in 1945, mounted on a calendar with wonderful print of the artist A. Acorn’s painting of Boston Light . The “Morgantown Victory” was a U.S. War Shipping Administration vessel launched in Baltimore in 1945. She served at the Normandy invasion where she was damaged by a mine. Calendar sheets are complete from January to December 1947. Only light wear, very light soiling, bottom corners clipped. Displays well. (VG). $26.
Keeper Jennings next to the light.
SPECIAL PURCHASE SALE!
(photo not included)
House Establishment Repair Voucher, Boston Harbor Narrows (Bug) Light Station,
Mass c.1860. Early pre- civil war document details items purchased and
delivered to Lieut. C. N. Trumbull, Light House Engineer, for painting the piles
and braces of the Boston Narrows Light Station. Items listed include keg red
lead, 70 lbs Brandon yellow, 10 gallons boiled (linseed) oil, 5 brushes, 2
gallons boiled oil, etc. at a cost of $23.69. Dated October 5, 1860. Document is
signed by Light House Engineer Charles N. Turnbull. Built in 1856, Bug Light
stood, until destroyed by fire in 1929, to warn mariners of the dreaded
Harding’s Ledge, four miles to the southeast. The lighthouse constructed was a
screw-pile type on iron “legs” (thus its nickname "Bug Light"),
with a hexagonal wooden dwelling with galvanized metal roof and lantern perched
on top. This lighthouse design was quite unusual at the time and was the first
such design constructed in
1297a. [glass projection slide] Deer
Island Lighthouse, Boston Harbor,
12150. (blueprint) Sketch Showing Location of Proposed Protecting Pier at Deer Island Light Station, Boston, Mass. October 4, 1902. 15" x 17". Original blueprint #1432 includes good elevation view of caisson and light tower. Congress appropriated a total of $41,000 for the original lighthouse in 1886. A cylindrical caisson base for the lighthouse, 33 feet in diameter and 30 feet high, was sunk four feet into the gravel of the spit, in about six feet of water. The caisson was filled with concrete, with some space being left for a basement and cisterns. The cast-iron superstructure built on top of the caisson had four levels between the lantern and basement, including living quarters. The lighthouse was painted brown except for the lantern, which was painted black. The new light went into service on January 26, 1890. Due to damage and wear from the seas, the protective wall around the base shown in this plan was constructed in 1902 but in spite of the protective wall, the lighthouse continued to deteriorate. The roof over the lower gallery had to be removed in 1965. The keepers did their best with makeshift repairs, but the lighthouse's days as a staffed station were numbered by the early 1970s. Deer Island Light was abandoned on February 19,1972. Beginning on June 14, 1982, the old lighthouse was removed. Clean, crisp, perfect for framing. $235.
12128. (photo) Boston Light Station c.1960’s. Large 8” x 10” photo provide unusually close, clear views of the light station on Boston’s Little Brewster Island. View includes the tall light tower, fog signal building and oil house, taken from the water. Superb view, clear and clean. Copy photo or digital print. (VG+). $6.
12170. (cabinet photo) Fog Signal Experiments at Boston Light Station c. 1894. 5" x 7". Extremely rare albumen photo by unknown photographer shows great detail of the experimental fog trumpet erected at Boston Light Station. The fog signal at Boston Light Station consisted in the 1870’s of Daboll compressed- air fog trumpet, which replaced the fog bell in 1872. It remained in use until 1887, when a steam-driven siren replaced it. However, "A curious state of things was found off the light-house on Little Brewster Island, Boston Harbor. Complaint had been made as to the action of the fog signal there, which was a Paboll trumpet, and another and better fog signal was wanted. Some asked for a siren, some for a steam whistle, and some for a larger and better Daboll.” This so-called “ghost walk” was an area about six miles east of the lighthouse where no sound could penetrate. This silence had often been observed at and about Harding Ledge, about 2 miles southeast of Boston light, and near the path of vessels from Cape Cod bound to Boston, where many a ship had been the victim of this rock on account of the failure to hear the signal. One of the signals, shown here, “…consisted of a second-class Daboll trumpet, placed on the east side of the rain sheds. The brass end of the trumpet was connected directly with the large wooden horn, octagonal in shape, and having a wide flare at the end. The horn was 55 feet long and 25 feet in its greatest diameter, and was pointed east by south. This trumpet was blown by compressed air through a pipe leading from the air receiver in the experimental building. It was manipulated by a hand valve….” Excellent view, close and clear, little if any wear. It is extremely difficult to find such early views and this view is certainly one of the larger, better ones. Measures 5 ” x 7”. (F-). $124.
934b. (commemorative toothpick holder) c.1900. A pretty, bright, gilt decorated cobalt blue commemorative toothpick holder featuring a beautiful, detailed full color image of the Revere Beach [Boston] Light House, Boston Harbor, Mass. A rare Boston lighthouse piece, holder measures 3 ½” high and is enhanced by a bright gilt edging. Marked “Made in Germany”. Clean, bright, a very pretty display piece for your collection. (VG+). $56.
12268. Sammarco, Anthony Michael. Boston's Harbor Islands. Arcadia. 1998. 128p. Soft wraps. 180 vintage photographs. First discovered in 1630, the many harbor islands have come to play an integral part in the history and development of the city. Boston’s Harbor Islands uncovers the fascinating stories of such places as Long Wharf, Castle Island, Minot’s Light, Marine Park, and the Boston Floating Hospital, to name but a few. View the rare photographs of Governor’s Island, and much more. Through a wealth of vintage photographs and descriptive text, the author reveals the history and lore of this historic area. Superb photographs, well worth it for the photos alone. (M). $21.99.
96791. na. Spit Light, Boston Harbor. Ballou’s Dollar Monthly Magazine. June 1861. Superb early engraved illustration of Boston Harbor and Boston Narrow’s (Spit) Lighthouse. Built in 1856, Bug Light stood until 1929 to warn mariners of the dreaded Harding’s Ledge, four miles to the southeast. The lantern was about thirty-five feet above sea level, and when a sea captain brought Bug Light in range with Long Island Head Light, he knew that he was clear of Harding’s Ledge and could safely enter the harbor. Includes short article describes the scene and this area of the harbor. Full issue, includes numerous interesting articles of the day. Some wear, contents generally clean. (VG-). $22.
25210. (research – photographs)
28153. (souvenir dish) “Revere Beach [Boston) Light(house), Mass.” c.1900. Special early souvenir dish features a beautiful full color image of the “Revere Beach [Boston) Light(house), Mass.”. This unusual item is quite attractive and bears a fine though distant, full color image of the tall old lighthouse tower on the rocky point of Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor. Colorful image is enhanced by the deep cobalt blue rim and bright gilt decoration. This piece is marked “Made in Germany.” 4 1/8” diameter. Clean, no cracks or checks, only light wear. (VG+). $48.
7309f. (souvenir toothpick)
c.1900. An unusual, petite, bright emerald green commemorative toothpick holder
featuring a beautiful full color image of the “Revere
Beach [Boston) Light(house), Mass.”. This unusual item is quite
attractive and bears a fine close, full color image of the tall old lighthouse
tower, fog signal building and nearby out buildings on the rocky point of Little
Brewster Island in Boston Harbor. Holder is quite bright and distinctive, and
measures 2” high by 3 ½” wide and is enhanced by a bit of a decorative gilt
trim around the image and rim. Labeled “Made in
7309d. (souvenir vase) c.1900. An unusual, petite, bright cobalt
blue commemorative vase featuring a beautiful full color image of “
7309d. (souvenir vase) c.1900. An unusual, petite, bright cobalt
blue commemorative vase featuring a beautiful full color image of “
5231f. OUTER LIGHT-HOUSE, BOSTON HARBOR. Gleason’s Pictorial. March 20, 1852. Fine full page article describing the outer light (Boston Light) and its Keeper Mr. Zebedee, and the inner light (Long Island Head Light). With superb half-page, beautifully detailed engraving showing Boston Light on Little Brewster Island. Masthead depicting Boston Harbor adds to this fine piece. Beautiful bright and clean, fine for display. (VG). $38 net.
28186a,b. (photo) Boston Light Station c.1930’s. Large 7 ½” x 10” photos provide unusually close, clear views of the light station on Boston’s Little Brewster Island. One view includes the tall light tower and large three-story keeper’s dwelling as one keeper walks up the hill toward the light tower. Second view is a close image looking up at the tower and lantern. Superb views, clear and clean, would look wonderful framed. (VG+). $22 each.
20538b. (photo) Fire
at Boston Harbor “Bug Light” June 7, 1929. Extremely rare
8” x 10” hand tinted photograph showing Boston’s Narrows or
“Bug” Lighthouse as it was being destroyed by fire. The lighthouse
constructed was a screw-pile type on iron “legs” (thus its nickname
"Bug Light"), with a hexagonal wooden dwelling with galvanized
metal roof and lantern perched on top. This lighthouse design was quite
unusual at the time and was the first such design constructed in
28335. [negative] Boston Harbor “Bug” Lighthouse. c.1900. Unusual negative featuring a close, clear view of of the fine Victorian screw-pile lighthouse located near Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor. On the walkway can be seen the a family posing for the photographer. The negative is large 4” x 2 ½” and would provide a large clear print. A good, clear image. (VG+). $22 net.
(stereoview) Boston Light Station, Little Brewster
Island, Boston Harbor. c.1880’s. Good early original stereoview,
probably by G. W. Tirrell 2nd provides a clear, close view of
2759. (photo) Boston Harbor Narrows ["Bug"] Lighthouse and Nix's Mate c.1920. 3 1/4" x 5 1/2". Just slightly distant, still rare view of this early lighthouse. (VG). $28.
274159. (photos) Boston Harbor Narrows ["Bug"] Lighthouse and Nix's Mate, etc. c.1892-1910. Lot of five 4" x 5" original amateur photos. First is Boston Harbor Narrows ["Bug"] Lighthouse as a tug approaches. Nix’s Mate is visible at the right margin. Additional views include cranes and gin poles, a granite bridge appears under construction, possibly over the Neponset River; magnificent photograph of the Ocean View House, location unknown; Small bay panorama, probably also Quincy; Norfolk Downs, Quincy, Mass., the old Indian lands in North Quincy that was so designated and laid out for house lots in 1892. Parts of the sign on the near building can be read: "-ORFOLK DOWNS – House Lots". Nice Boston area lot. (VG). $36.
28168. (photo lot) Fort Strong Gun Batteries, Long Island, Boston Harbor c.1912-1944 by Alfred K. Schroeder, photographer. Lot of eight original b/w 11”x14” photographs taken by photographer and historian Alfred K. Schroeder show great detail of the gun batteries and crews at Boston’s Fort Strong. Alfred K. Schroeder was a world renowned photographer, working for as photographer for the Boston Ballet, and was a leading child photographer in the area, in addition to being a military historian and photographer for Edward Rowe Snow. His photographs still hang in museums at around the world. Fort Strong was originally named Long Island Military Reservation until 1899. In World War I, 1,500 soldiers were stationed at Fort Strong but by WWII, its guns were obsolete, and Fort Strong was abandoned. This lot includes 0eight 11 x 14 inch vintage photos of Fort Strong from 1912-1944. All but one are dated; one is dated 1912, four are dated 1924, one is dated 1933, and one 1944. All are on original photo paper and all are in good condition, clear and crisp. Holes punched on one side for album. Rare unusual lot. (VG+). $148.
5307. Boston Light. (c. 1870) Clear, close view showing tower, dwelling and fog signal building. Some foxing to sky . Nice view. (G). $48.
5153. [stereo view] Boston Light [taken from Middle Brewster Island] Clear, clean though slightly distant view by E.R. Hills. (c. 1870-80) (VG) $36.
21104. Finnerty, Cheryl Anne. LIGHTHOUSES OF BOSTON HARBOR – Past & Present. Seminole. 2001. 171p. Just published by the founders of the Boston Habor Explorers, this exciting new book features an in-depth narrative history of each of the 19 light stations that have protected Boston Harbor. Each station is covered in detail with a complete history, stories and legends, lists of keepers, architectural specifications, characteristics of the light, as well as present management and visitor information. Included too is information on Life-Saving Services, Joshua James, and more. Stations covered include Boston Light, baker’s Island, Thatcher’s Island, Scituate, Long Island Head, Ten Pound Island, Eastern Point, Marblehead, Straitsmouth, Minot’s Ledge, The Narrows [Bug] Light, Egg Rock, Derby Wharf, Fort Pickering, Hospital Point, Deer Island, Graves Ledge, Lovell’s Island, and Spectacle Island. Well illustrated with 131 vintage and recent photos and diagrams dating back to 1729. Wonderful reading and reference. (M). $24.95.
22240. Sullivan, Robert F. SHIPWRECKS AND NAUTICAL LORE OF BOSTON HARBOR – A Mariner’s Chronicle of More than 100 Shipwrecks, Heroic Rescues and Salvage Accounts, Treasure Tales, Island Legends, and Harbor Anecdotes. Chester. 1990. 164 p. Soft wraps. This thoroughly researched chronicle describes in some detail over 120 shipwrecks in the harbor’s wide expanse, stretching seaward from Deer Island off Winthrop to Point Allerton in Hull. The author describes the harbor’s numerous hazards and violent storms, along with the brave life savers who rescued countless victims. Page after page brings these early seafaring years to life. Well illustrated with numerous vintage photos and engravings. (M). $15.95.
24394. Krebs, Laurie. A DAY IN
THE LIFE OF A COLONIAL LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER. New York. 2004. 24 p. New from
PowerKids Press, this charming addition to their Day in the Life series looks at
Boston Light in Colonial times. From the harbor and lighthouse design, to the
keeper’s daily duties, changing weather, firing the fog signal cannon,
polishing the brass, rescues and more. A wonderful addition to your children’s
library. (M). $18.95.
Page updated August 24, 2016
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text and illustrations on web site Ó
James W. Claflin . 08/24/2016
reserved. Use prohibited without written permission.