Mississippi River Paddlewheel Steamer Copper Tray

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  • Item Category: Fine Art
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Sep 18, 2007
  • Channel: Auction House
This is a silvered copper cordial serving tray from the early 1900's or late 1800's. Good condition with some of original silvering. Heavy copper with folded edge and scroll edge. Small measuring 7 1/4 inches by 5 1/2 inches. We bought several different heavy copper trays from salvage that were removed from a Mississippi River Paddlewheel Steamer. Used to serve cordials to guests and gamblers.

As William Henry and John Fitch had foreseen, steamboats on the major American rivers soon followed Fulton's success. Mark Twain, in his Life on the Mississippi, described much of the operation of these vessels. For most of the 19th century and part of the early 20th century, trade on the Mississippi River would be dominated by paddle-wheel steamboats, very few of which survive to the present day, most destroyed by boiler explosions or fires. One of the few surviving Mississippi sternwheelers from this period, Julius C. Wilkie, is preserved as a museum ship at Winona, Minnesota. For modern craft operated on rivers, see the riverboat article. The cartoon Steamboat Willie introduced steamboat pilot Mickey Mouse to the public. The Belle of Louisville, based at the port of Louisville, Kentucky is the oldest continually operating steamboat on the inland waterways of the United States: her hull was laid as the Idlewild in 1914.

A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving a propeller or paddlewheel. The term steamboat is usually used to refer to smaller steam-powered boats working on lakes and rivers, particularly riverboats in the USA; steamship generally refers to steam powered ships capable of carrying a (ship's) boat. The term steamwheeler is archaic and rarely used. Steamships gradually replaced sailing ships for commercial shipping through the 19th century, and they were in turn superseded by diesel-driven ships in the second half of the twentieth century. Most warships used steam propulsion until the advent of the gas turbine. Today, nuclear powered warships and submarines use steam to drive turbines, but are not referred to as steamships or steamboats. Screw-driven steamships generally carry the ship prefix "SS" before their names. Paddle steamers usually carry the prefix "PS" and Steamships powered by the steam turbine may be prefixed "TS" (Turbine Ship). The term steamer is occasionally used, out of nostalgia, for diesel motor-driven vessels, prefixed "MV".

As often happens with inventions, the development of the steam engine powered vessel involved many people, sometimes working at the same time. One of the first to propose the idea (around 1690) was the French physicist Denis Papin, inventor of the steam engine. In a 1690 article in Acta Eruditorum, he describes a steamboat equiped with four cylinders, propelling rotating wheels. In 1707 he constructed a paddle-powered boat, but whether it was full-size and steam-powered or not is unclear. River boatmen took exception to the threat to their trade and destroyed it at Loch, on September 27th 1707. In 1736 Jonathan Hulls took out a patent in England for a Newcomen engine-powered steamboat, but it was the improvement in steam engines by James Watt that made the concept feasible. William Henry of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, having learned of Watt's engine on a visit to England, made his own engine and in 1763 attempted to put it in a boat. The boat sank, and while he made an improved model he does not seem to have had much success, though he may have inspired others. In France, by 1774 the Marquis Claude de Jouffroy and colleagues had made a 13 meter working steamboat with rotating paddles, the Palmipède. The ship sailed on the Doubs in June and July 1776, apparently becoming the first steamship to sail succesfully. In 1783 a new paddle steamer, the Pyroscaphe, successfully steamed up the river Saône for fifteen minutes before the engine failed, but bureaucracy thwarted further progress. From 1784 James Rumsey built a pump-driven boat (water-jet) that succes...