1844 - 1845 SUPERB AND DETAILED JOURNAL OF THE DAY TO DAY LIFE AND WORK OF A SAILOR ON THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY SHIP ‘MERCURY’ SAILING AROUND THE WORLD FROM AMERICA TO ENGLAND TO THE EAST INDIES AND BACK

By: JOSEPH Y. TAFS

Price: $4,455.99

Quantity: 1 available

Book Condition: Good


On offer is the diary of a crewman on the ship ‘Mercury’ (A full-rigged ship with numerous masts and sails) as it sails from Newburyport, Massachusetts to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, then to London, England and then onto ports in the East Indies, returning to discharge the ship’s cargo in the Netherlands. The book covers the period of 1854 and 1855. The cover page contains all the information of the ports of arrival and departure for the timespan of the book: “Ship Mercury sailed from Newburyport to St. Stephens on the 24th day of June 1854 and arrived the 28th. Sailed from St. Stephens the 27th of July and arrived at London the 19th of August. Sailed from London to Akyab East Indies the 19th day of October 1854. Arrived at Akyab, the 17th of Feb 1855. Sailed from Akyab on Thursday, March 15th, 1855. Arrived at Brouwershaven on the 30th July 1855. Arrived at Dordrecht on the 7th August.” The book is roughly 100 pages, double-sided with writing on almost every page but a few in the middle. The diary also takes a bit of a strange form, beginning in June 1854, there are entries for about a bit more than a month’s worth of time. The diary entries then stop, and start again a couple months later, beginning at the other end of the book and continues until the two portions meet. The first page of the earliest portion of the diary begins, “A journal of the voyage of Ship Mercury to St. Stephens, and thence to London, Eng. Kept by Joseph Y. Tafs.” The first entry is Thursday, June 22, 1854, two days before the ship leaves Newportbury. “At twelve oclock left Marblehead to join the ship at Newburyport, arrived on board at half past two. Got our clothes and things on board, and set about putting them to right. Then went around and procured a few necessary articles, and brought them aboard, done no work this day, and in the night we slept aboard by ourselves. Six of us in all.” The ship leaves on the 24th for St. Stephen’s. The trip over is a fairly easy journey. Tafs describes the weather each day and his daily activities aboard the ‘Mercury’: “Tuesday, June 27th. Commenced with fine weather and alight wind from S by E at six oclock turned too and got underweigh for the ballast ground off St. Stephen's ledge, about thirty five miles distance, when we arrived at five oclock in the afternoon, cleaned up and furled the light sails and unbent the topsail and course and stowed them below. After supper, the sailors took their clothes and left for Calais [Maine], much to the satisfaction of all on board.” The ship is in St. Stephen for a month, during which time Tafs does routine work on the ship: “Saturday, July 8th. Commences rainy and drizzly, putting deals in fast, at work to day cleaning up the tween decks, and hoisting casks and so forth on deck in the afternoon worked her down and then knocked off work.”; “...hoisted the colours at daylight, and then went ashore, attended meeting part of the day, and the rest spent in looking around to see the place, day ends fair.” The ship sails for London at the end of July after some delay. “Friday, July 28th...pilot came on board with a gang of men to get ship under way for Earthport, where we were to receive our crew, arrived there at about six oclock and cast anchor, the crew came on board, but were not able to assist in getting the ship out, so we lay anchored all night.” This part of the book ends on August 1st, and begins again on the other side of the book, on October 17th, as the ship is getting ready to leave for the East Indies. “Rather cool and cloudy getting our anchors of our bow in the East India Docks and making preparations for sea. Shipt 8 sailors yesterday at 17 dollars per month.” The trip takes almost four months. The entries are like the previous ones during sailing, mostly observations on the weather, sites seen along the way, and work done on the ship. The Mercury is obviously a fully-rigged ship with many masts, as much of his entries detail rigging, hoisting, and furling the many masts and sails that enable the ship to cross the Atlantic. “Saturday November the 11th. Forenoon blowing a ten knott breeze and fair shirk the reefs cut up our top sails fore and aft and sat topgallant sails. Afternoon commenced blowing very heavy furled our royals fore and aft and fore and mizzen topgallant sails and put one reef in our mizzen topsail. A large ship to windward made her out by the glass to be a man-of-war.”; “November the 17th. Continues fine have got the N.E. trades to favor as we are close to the Cape de Verde Islands, at 12 oclock we have too as it was very dark we did not wish to get too near the land. At daylight this morning got underweight again not having seen the land, all hands at work as usual.”; “Monday. Jan. 8th. Morning commences fine and fair. The morning watch putting on a preventer back (?) to the martingale, in the forenoon the watch are at work worming and turning in the main rigging, at noon at the lower stunsail, in the afternoon all hands on deck at work on the main rigging and making a netting for the topgallant forecastle. The weather is fine and very warm with no wind. Continues calm through the day and night.”; The ship goes down the West Coast of Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope, and arrives in Akyab (in what is now Myanmar) on February 17th. “Saturday. Feb. 17th. This morning commences with fair weather and gentle breezes at three oclock tacked ship and stood on her cruise, at daylight looking out for land, and at nine oclock made the land, right ahead, passed a Dutch ship supposed she was bound for Aracan, have the lead several times and got bottom at thirty five fathom have got a good breeze now to run in with. At six oclock took a pilot who carried us in the harbor and at eight oclock came to anchor and furled all the sails except the topsails, then set an anchor watch, two in a watch. After a very good passage of one hundred and twenty one days from London dock.” The next day he writes that “several bumboats came alongside to day with oranges, bananas, eggs, bread, and such things, which were quite a rarity to us, as those who had the money could buy, in the afternoon, the Mate went ashore and got some Calcutta papers of the fifteenth, with news off the loss of the French and English fleet.” (this could be in reference to the Siege of Sevastopol, currently underway as part of the Crimean War); “Tuesday. Feb. 27th...at eight oclock fire was discovered on our cropjack yard, which burnt up the sail completely and damaged the yard to a considerable extent. It was not known how the fire originated, but it was supposed to have been caused by a spark from the galley and had been burning some length of time, during the day it is very hot. At work discharging ballast, painting ship and oiling decks fore and aft.” The ship is delayed, and doesn’t leave until March 15th. Unfortunately, the diary does not say what cargo the ship was taking on at Akyab, but the ship belonged to the British East India Company, at which it’s possible that the cargo included cotton, silks, indigo dye, spices, and/or tea. The journey at times is mostly easy, but sometimes quite fraught. “Wednesday. May 16th. This morning commences with rough and squally weather. The wind increased until it blew a strong gale from Northeast. Took in topgallant sails, and at one oclock called all hands and double reefed the topsails fore and aft, and furled jibs, staysails, spanker, etc. at four oclock blowing very strong, put a reef in the mainsail, and close reefed the mizzen topsail at twelve oclock. The weather continues the same wore ship and stood NW by North. In the afternoon employed variously about deck, during the night the weather is more moderate and quite cold, shook the reefs out the topsails fore and aft, and set the flying jibs and spanker.” The ship arrives in Brouwershaven, in the Netherlands at the end of July. Then onto Dordrecht, also in Holland. The last week of the diary is the author paying the men who worked on the ship, enjoying time ashore and rides in the country, and employing labourers to discharge cargo, paint the ship, scrub the deck, and other tasks. The last entry is August 21st. “This day begins rather rainy and foggy and continues so all the forenoon, but clears of the afternoon. This days ends the voyage, squared up and found myself to be eleven dollars and eighty seven cents in debt to the ship.” This book is in fair shape, with evident signs of wear and age, with the quarter leather cover fraying a bit. But this does not inhibit the reading of the text, which is easy and clear almost throughout the entire book. There are some sections where the ink has clearly faded, but these can still be read under direct light. The book also contains some amateur, but very detailed skilled drawings of the ship on the inside covers, as well as a couple of little ditties and aphorisms, including “Always do to others as you would that they should do to you” which is attributed to a “Captain Shakespeare.” As to whether this is the Captain’s actual name or a just having fun is unclear.; Manuscript; Folio - over 12" - 15" tall; KEYWORDS: HISTORY OF, CIRCUMNAVIGATION, SHIP MERCURY, FULL RIGGED SHIP, MANY MASTED SAILING SHIP, NEWBURYPORT, MASSACHUSETTS, ST. STEPHEN, NEW BRUNSWICK, SAIL ACROSS THE ATLANTIC, LONDON, ENGLAND, AKYAB, BROUWERSHAVEN, DORDRECHT, HOLLAND, THE NETHERLANDS, BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY, FAR EAST TRADE, COLONIAL ERA UNITED KINGDOM, 19TH CENTURY SAILING VESSEL, DESCRIPTION OF SAILOR’S WORK, HULL, RIGGING, MAST, PASSAGE FROM ENGLAND TO THE EAST INDIES, CAPE OF GOOD HOPE, GLOBAL SPICE TRADE, BRITANNICA, HANDWRITTEN, MANUSCRIPT, DOCUMENT, LETTER, AUTOGRAPH, WRITER, HAND WRITTEN, DOCUMENTS, SIGNED, LETTERS, MANUSCRIPTS, HISTORICAL, HOLOGRAPH, WRITERS, AUTOGRAPHS, PERSONAL, MEMOIR, MEMORIAL, ANTIQUITÉ, CONTRAT, VÉLIN, DOCUMENT, MANUSCRIT, PAPIER ANTIKE, BRIEF, PERGAMENT, DOKUMENT, MANUSKRIPT, PAPIER OGGETTO D’ANTIQUARIATO, ATTO, VELINA, DOCUMENTO, MANOSCRITTO, CARTA ANTIGÜEDAD, HECHO, VITELA, DOCUMENTO, MANUSCRITO, PAPEL

Title: 1844 - 1845 SUPERB AND DETAILED JOURNAL OF THE DAY TO DAY LIFE AND WORK OF A SAILOR ON THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY SHIP ‘MERCURY’ SAILING AROUND THE WORLD FROM AMERICA TO ENGLAND TO THE EAST INDIES AND BACK

Author Name: JOSEPH Y. TAFS

Categories: Books and Manuscripts General Overview, 19th Century Diary, All, 19th Century Manuscript,

Publisher: NEWBURYPORT MA, ST. STEPHEN, LONDON ENGLAND, AKYAB, 1844

Book Condition: Good

Seller ID: 0009040

Keywords: Keywords: History Of CIRCUMNAVIGATION Ship Mercury Full Rigged Ship Many Masted Sailing Ship NEWBURYPORT MASSACHUSETTS St. Stephen New Brunswick