“Wet Paper” from the Ten Pound Island Book Company

- by Michael Stillman

Tenpound208

“Wet Paper” from the Ten Pound Island Book Company

Ten Pound Island Book Company released their Maritime List 208, or Wet Paper. I had to check on the meaning of that. Ten Pound Island reassures us it refers to paper items pertaining to the sea, not material that was water stained. Whew! This catalogue is filled with items pertaining to boats, voyages, shipwrecks, fish, whales, and other assorted watery subjects. The water's fine, so let's jump in to this catalogue to see what is swimming about.

Item 37 is an autobiography, or at least an “as told to” autobiography, of one Abel Sampson, told by the same, though written by Edmund Hale Kendall. Its title is The Wonderful Adventures of Abel Sampson... published in 1847. His adventures would not necessarily be considered “wonderful” by the common understanding of the term. It is more a case of his difficulties fill you with wonder. A native of Maine, he went to sea in 1808, was soon pressed into service by the British, escaped and worked on a slaver, then a privateer, served at sea during the War of 1812 only to be captured by the British again, then went off to sea yet again, visiting Europe and India among other locations, before finally decommissioning his sea legs in 1820. He returned to the more stable life of a carpenter. Priced at $750.

Next we have a folio broadside recounting a tragic incidence in 1825: Account of the Most Melancholy and Dreadful Accident! Loss of the Comet Steam-Boat. 70 Persons Drown. The Comet was sailing for Glasgow when she was rammed by the Ayr. Apparently, the captain of the latter panicked, and took off without trying to save the Comet's passengers. Seventy of them died while but 13 were saved. This has to be the first time I have heard of hit and run at sea, at least with ships of this size. Item 7. $400.

Here is another account of a tragic shipwreck (there aren't a lot of happy shipwrecks), more tragic than most: The Shipwrecked Orphans: A True Narrative of the Shipwreck and Sufferings of John Ireland and William Doyley. The ship Charles Eaton had an unfortunate encounter with a reef in 1834. A few of the crew made off with the lifeboats, leaving the passengers to fend for themselves. They managed to construct a couple of rafts, and after days of floating without food and water, they finally made it to land. That's when their problems really began. The natives were unfriendly, to put it mildly. They killed all but four children. A few months later, the only two of the four still surviving were sold to some other islanders for a bunch of bananas. Fortunately, these natives were far more decent, taking good care of the two boys, cabin boy John Ireland and toddler William Doyley. Two years later, they were rescued and returned to Australia. This account by the older boy was published in America in 1845. Item 90. $1,750.

As long as we are focused on human misery, here is another tragedy of the sea. This is quite different from the typical shipwreck story. Nonetheless, it is a memorial to 68 sailors who died on their voyage. It is a lithograph of Needham's Point, Garrison Burial Ground and the Town and Harbor of Bridgetown, Barbados. It is the burial ground which is the focus, and the print includes the names of the 68 sailors who died. The English sailors had traveled to Barbados on board the Dauntless in 1852. However, their ship was not wrecked, did not sink, nor was it involved in combat. The sailors contracted yellow fever, and in that era, disease was more deadly to sailors than shipwrecks and wars. Item 67. $1,250.

Now we turn to a happy event, and a piece with significant Hawaiian connections. It is An Address, Delivered at a Meeting for Prayer, with Reference to the Sandwich Mission... This is not a prayer for a good meal. In 1819, Hawaii was often referred to as the Sandwich Islands. The Earl was known for more than just putting a piece of meat between two slices of bread. The address was given by Reverend Thomas Gallaudet, known for his pioneering work in the education of the deaf. The occasion was the marriage of Reverend Hiram Bingham and Sybil Moseley. Herein lies the Hawaiian connection. The Binghams were leaders of the first mission to Hawaii, and their influence on the island's culture would be great. They were married in 1819, and later that year, set off for Hawaii, arriving in 1820. This address, given at their marriage, was published to help raise funds for their coming mission. They were recalled to New England in 1840 and did not return. Their son, Hiram Bingham II, would later become a missionary to Hawaii, while Hiram Bingham III was a Connecticut Governor and Senator and an explorer who reported on the discovery of Machu Picchu, and Hiram Bingham IV was an American diplomat in France during World War II who saved the lives of hundreds, possibly thousands of Jews and others being hunted by the Nazis. Item 30. $250.