Gloucester Buenos Aires Maritime Samuel E. Sawyer

Gloucester Buenos Aires Maritime Samuel E. Sawyer Oriental Rug Review/Asian Trade is pleased to offer a small group of items, c. 1860s-80s, having to do with the North Shore town of Gloucester in Massachusetts, and its major 19th century personality Samuel E. Sawyer. Sawyer was a merchant and ship owner whose ships were a major component in the China Trade. He lived on his "Brookbank" estate in Gloucester, but maintained offices in Boston and New York City from which he managed his ships and captains. Gloucester's Sawyer Free Library is named in his honor.

Samuel Elwell Sawyer was born in Gloucester on Nov. 25, 1815 and he died 73 years later in Gloucester on Dec. 15, 1889. He was perhaps the greatest single benefactor in all of Gloucester history. He loved and remained thoroughly dedicated to the community. He was a diligent and hard worker. Born to a working class family he began his business career working as a clerk in a dry goods store in his early teens. After a few years, still in his teens, he worked his way into a position as a salesman with a Boston firm. He was bold and forward in his thinking; not afraid to try new things. In Boston, he associated himself with a larger company as manager and then part owner in a company that bought and sold materials and goods around the world. Later he bought several ships that traded

One of Samuel E. Sawyer's ships was the Bark Annie M. Kelley which he bought new from the Wadsworth Shipyard in Pembroke Maine, way up there near Eastport. Ship builder L. L. Wadsworth had already named the ship after his, wife Anna M. Kelley, and the ship retained that name because it was thought to be bad luck to rename a ship. She was fitted out and made ready for sea. She was delivered to the Sawyers at Boston and Captain Charles Sawyer boarded her and sailed her to New York, to finish fitting her out and to arrange for cargo for a voyage to Buenos Aires. This is where this group of documents, except for the first item, pick up.

(1.) Massachusetts Militia, The Boston Rifle Rangers. In August of 1838 Mr. A. H. Cushing had to pay a fine of three dollars for his behavior "On Excursion to Gloucester," 3" X 8 1/2".

(2.) An insurance policy for the Bark Anna M. Kelley's voyage to Buenos Aires, issued by National Insurance Company, Boston, Mass. The policy bears the original imperforate 25 cent Revenue stamp. We have placed the stamp in a mount next to where it was originally placed. The policy bears some water stains and the stamp had become detached. Part of the reason this policy survived all these years is that they played an important part in the Alabama Claims process. When it was agreed that Britain and France would recompense ship owners for excessive insurance costs after the Civil War, old ship owners had to scramble to locate all of their insurance policies in order to seek reparations from Britain and France under terms of the Alabama Claims agreement.

(3.) A cargo list for the Anna M. Kelley. There is starch, hats, alcohol and lots of Kerosene and Kerosene lamps. This was at a time that petroleum products were squeezing Whale oil out of the lighting markets. At the bottom of this list are the names of the four insurance companies that shared the risk on this voyage. National Insurance Co.was in for $6,000 at a rate of 4%, unusually high because of "War Risk."

(4.) A letter to Samuel E. Sawyer from his brother Charles Sawyer, written just before taking the Anna M. Kelley to sea. The letter was taken on board the pilot boat that guided the ship out of New York Harbor:

On Board Barque A. M. Kelley
March 4th, (18)63

Dear Brother

We are now leaving port and getting ready for sea. We did not get our crew on board soon enough last night to get out past the light ship before dark, after which time vessels are not allowed to pass.

There has not been a chance to go...

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