PORTABLE SHIP WRITING DESK ID’D TO USS PEACOCK & USS WARREN, 1832-35

$950.00

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Item Code: 731-767

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Well-made brown mahogany box measuring 16” x 6.5” x 9.5”. Brass front key lock [key missing], brass end-handles. Double compartment [upper compartment measures15.75 x 1.75” with fold-down wooden panel; lower compartment measures 4.75 x 15.75” with felt covered writing panel. Box exterior exhibits slight wear & scratching, else VG to fine.  Interior also VG plus, with one lower bottom ink stain and handful of worn desk panel spots.

Ship identification - USS Peacock/ USS Warren. Upper compartment panel contains following notations, in ink: “Boston Mass. Mar. 6, 1832/ D.G.” Under “USS Peacock” is “At sea 15 April 1832/ Lat 8, 21 West L.” / Rio De Janeiro / May May 4th 1832/ Oct. 15th 1832”; “Buenos Ayres / June 18, 1832”. Under “U.S.S, Warren”, “Rio de La Plata, Sept. 15, 1832 / At sea Oct. 2 / [Ship June Oct 30—Oct. 2 1832] / Baltimore Dec. 10 1832 / Washington Jan. 4 1833 / Washington Jan. 4 1833/ Baltimore Feb. 1833 / Philadelphia Feb. 28th 1833 / Trenton March 1833/ New York Feb. 1833 / Trenton March 1833 / Plymouth May 1833 / Brooklyn June 1833 / Brooklyn June 1833 / Hempstead Harbour Long Island / March 10 1835. Final notation, in pencil: “Watertown Mass. Mar. 30 1879”.

The USS Peacock was a sloop of war launched in September 1813. Following extensive service in the War of 1812, during which it captured 17 prizes, the ship was rebuilt in 1828. During the period covered by the desk notations, the Peacock was dispatched on diplomatic service to the coast of Brazil, where it remained through June 15, 1832, departing on that date for the Cape of Good Hope. The ship was later utilized in coastal exploration, and broke up after being stuck on a bar in the Columbia river in Oregon, after the crew and much scientific data had been taken off. 17-19, July 1841.

The USS Warren was also a sloop of war, re-commissioned on 2 September 1831, after which it was ordered to service on Brazil station, where it remained until October 1833, when ordered to back to Philadelphia. During its colorful career the Warren fought Greek pirates, and served with the Mediterranean Squadron, as well as in the Caribbean and Pacific. It was eventually sold in Panama in 1863 and ended its days as a coal hulk for Pacific Mail Steamship Company.

The anonymous notations on the desk panel are likely those of a naval officer, temporarily attached, or, even more likely, a diplomat or treasury official, who sailed from Boston on the Peacock in March 1832, and left from the ship prior to its June departure for the Cape of Good Hope. Remaining ashore in the Brazil/ Buenos Aires area, this person was then briefly aboard the USS Warren [“Ship—June 30/ Oct. 2 1832”], before departing for the United States, arriving in Baltimore on December 10, 1832, several months prior to the USS Warren’s return to Philadelphia in the autumn of 1833.

The case for a treasury official is strengthened by a small treasury department pamphlet which accompanies the desk, and is contained in its lower compartment. “Letter From the Secretary of the Treasury / transmitting statements of Goods, Wares, Merchandize, in American or Forei2gn Vessels. March 22, 1820. Read, and ordered to lie on table. Washington: Gales & Watson, 1820”. 33pp., wraps, measuring 9.75 x 6”, containing merchandise & tax rates from various foreign countries & parts, including “The Coast of Brazil.” Booklet exhibits slight wear & light foxing. Else VG. Also contains a dealer letter of authentication, stating that the desk was obtained from a family in Belmont, MA.

Superb pre-Civil War portable writing desk, whether of naval, or treasury department provenance. Highly attractive, great library piece. Invites further research.

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