At Large  August 5, 2017  Rebecca Barry

Illustrated Manuscript Ship’s Log Sails to Success

Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries.

At auction last week in New York was a bound volume containing two early nineteenth-century ship’s logbooks, “Journal of a Voyage, from Bristol to the Mediterranean, Anno Domini 1819” and “Log-Book Kept on board the Astraea On a Voyage from London to the Mediterranean, Anno-Domini 1821.” Unlike many logbooks of their kind, these two displayed exceptional artistic merit, containing 28 leaves of ink calligraphy (page headers) and 35 fine watercolor drawings. Their creator, Captain William Hodgson, drew not only his own ships but other trading vessels traveling through the Mediterranean at the time. 

Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries.

Interest in the nautical manuscripts was strong. Multiple bidders took the volume well past its $3,000-5,000 estimate; ultimately, a dealer won it for $20,800. Swann Galleries specialist Caleb Kiffer noted, “The log book is one of those unusual items that rarely comes to market and that gets people really excited.”Read more about this lot on Swann’s blog.

About the Author

Rebecca Barry

Rebecca Rego Barry is the editor of this magazine and the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places. Her writing also appears in The Guardian, The Awl, and JSTOR Daily.