What speaks to me – Dean Lahikainen

Susan Flynn

137863, Classical revival card table made for Crowninshieldʹs Cleopatraʹs Barge 1816.

This piece first appeared in Connections, PEM’s member magazine, and is part of a series where our curators are asked to tell about a piece in the collection that intrigues them.

George Crowninshield Jr., the son of one of Salem’s wealthiest shipping merchants, was something of a showboat. With his father’s fortunes he not only commissioned America’s first private yacht, Cleopatra’s Barge, but he hired the finest craftsmen to make the furnishings. Read more

The Logbook as Timekeeper

Kate Wersan

A Journal of a voyage from Salem to St. Helena, the Cape of Good Hope and Cape de Verd Islands in the Brig Augusta 1803 and 1804, Log 1067.

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, captains and navigators, even those educated in the most cutting edge navigation practices, struggled to translate what they knew at their “finger ends” into generalizable maxims or—perhaps more crucially— accurate navigation.  The extensive collection of ships’ logs in the Phillip’s Library collection testify to the frequent sense of disorientation, frustration, anxiety, and uncertainty that plagued navigators as internal perceptions of space, time, and movement clashed with astronomical observations, soundings, or observations of the natural world. In these entries we can see mariners weighing what they know about their local environments and geographical and temporal locales, seeking reliable patterns, and trying to identify anomalies or outliers.  Read more