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Catalog entry

inv. 240
Gloucester Inner Harbor
Gloucester Inner Harbor, Massachusetts; View of the Inner Harbor, Gloucester
1850
Oil on canvas
24 x 36 in. (61 x 91.4 cm)
Signed and dated lower left: F.H. Lane, 1850

Commentary

This extraordinary painting is likely the last of Lane’s great Gloucester Inner Harbor series. He began these paintings when he returned to Gloucester after spending sixteen years in Boston as a lithographer. In this series he chronicles the changes to the harbor as Gloucester’s fleet and waterfront capacity greatly expanded after years of stasis. An era of prosperity was replacing decades of hardship and the people of Gloucester were torn between a nostalgia for the harbor that was and anticipation of a more prosperous future. In the earlier paintings of the series Lane chronicles ship building, wharves being extended into deeper water, the development of Fort Point and a fascinating array of shoreside activities.

The group of paintings depicting the harbor include The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1847 (inv. 271), Gloucester Harbor, 1847 (inv. 23), The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester (Harbor Scene), 1848 (inv. 58), View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester (Harbor Scene), 1848 (inv. 58), and The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30).

If this is the last painting in the series, Lane is summing it up in a dramatic fashion by including every vessel and activity possible in the tight confines of Harbor Cove. It is a tour de force of composition and the painting of ships as if Lane wanted to show off all his skills in one work. He has crammed more boats at more angles—aground, afloat; sails up, down and drying—than the harbor can possibly hold. To top it off he has draped a gill net over the masts of the double-ended New England boat on the beach, a very subtle and difficult piece of painting. The sun is about to set on a hazy afternoon and Lane has used a whitish series of highlights moving laterally across the painting to punctuate and lead the eye through the dizzying level of detail.

Continue reading below where Erik Ronnberg has labeled and described all the components of the painting in detail.

– Sam Holdsworth

 

A Visual Guide to the Painting

While this scene is a part of Gloucester’s Inner Harbor, the part in the foreground (enclosed by Duncan’s Point at left and Fort Point at right) was called Harbor Cove. It was Gloucester's principal receiving area and landing from the early-eighteenth to the late-nineteenth century. It provided the deepest water at wharfside in the Inner Harbor, yet was still too shallow for larger vessels to enter except at high tide. Vessels larger than small schooners were firmly aground at low tide, as this depiction reveals. The new wharf of George H. Rogers, built out from Fort Point, was intended to berth larger vessels in adequately deep water, but as this image shows, grounding at low tide remained a problem.

The harbor layout in Lane’s painting follows View in Gloucester Harbor, 1850s (inv. 143) with great accuracy. As was Lane’s practice, his drawing omits most of the vessels which appear in the painting, leaving only two that were probably included to help him gauge the dimensions of vessels in proximity to them. Perspective lines in the middle sheet of the drawing are located where he placed groups of vessels at various distances, using the lines to gauge relative dimensions. 

Foreground, the intertidal zone at the head of Duncan’s Point, looking south-southwest:

1. A stone anchor, or killick, was a commonly used substitute for an iron anchor to anchor and secure fish traps, shellfish cars, and other inshore fishing gear. It was made from a long, flat beach stone, which was fitted to a forked tree branch, which in turn was fitted to a wooden “fluke” and secured with wedges. The depicted killick is connected with rope to:

2. A lobster car—a floating holding tank for live lobsters and other shellfish. Made of wood, its side and bottom planks were sometimes spaced apart half an inch or so, for circulation of water to keep the critters alive. This example is instead bored with numerous holes for the same purpose. A new lobster car was ballasted with rocks so only its top was visible. As the wood absorbed water, the rocks were removed so the top remained visible and accessible.

3. A yawl boat, possibly from the packet schooner (#9), offers a good view of its inboard arrangement. Note the arrangement of thwarts (seats) in the stern for passengers, an arrangement common to the yawl boats of fishing and merchant vessels. Not used like dories for fishing, they served as lifeboats and for errands in port.

4. A collection of fishing gear, probably off-loaded from the adjacent New England boat (No. 6), includes: a rope coil, probably warp for the nearby anchor; an open keg, possibly once used for a marker buoy for a gill net; a wood anchor stock resting against the rock and two hand-lines on large wooden winders next to it; and a large keg.

5. Walking from the New England boat is one of her crew with a gill net over his shoulder. See Inv. 198 for what is the likely preliminary sketch for this detail.

6. The aforementioned New England boat is of the double-ended type, about twenty-five feet long, and of lapstrake construction. A torn gill net (#6A) is hanging from her masts to dry before being brought ashore for repairs and stowage. The hull is propped upright with planks, suggesting that her owner plans to clean the bottom and give the hull a coat of pine tar, with a heavy coat of pitch below the waterline.

7. Another of the New England boat’s crew is dressing large cod for sale as fresh fish—a welcome (and better-paying) alternative to the usual split, salted, and dried cod.

Vessel types afloat (or aground in some cases), from left to right:

8. Outside Harbor Cove, in The Stream, four fishing schooners are getting under way to the fishing grounds. All carry (or very soon will carry) their yawl boats on stern davits, indicating that they are in the hand-line fishery and most likely bound for Georges Bank.

9. Two hand-line schooners are alongside a larger topsail schooner whose fancy stern with arch and gallery lights (windows) indicate that she is in the packet trade. There might be small transactions with the two schooners for food items, tobacco, etc. on account with the store to whom the goods were shipped, which the packet’s skipper will pass on to the storekeeper.

10. Beyond the three schooners is a large square-rigged merchant vessel—either a brig or a bark—which has probably (and symbolically) returned from a trading voyage to Paramaribo, capital of Surinam, and principal port of call in Gloucester’s foreign trade. If owned by George H. Rogers, she will likely tie up at his new wharf (#16) at Fort Point.

11. In the distance are two schooners and a hermaphrodite brig, the last mentioned being outward bound.

12.The square-stern New England boat in this painting also appears in Lane’s drawing in exactly the same place and angle of view. No connection by ownership has been made to Lane or his friends. It is possible that he drew it to establish a dimensional reference for vessels added nearby in the painting.

13. A lumber schooner lies aground—testimony to the shallowness of Harbor Cove at low tide. The topsail schooner at John W. Lowe’s wharf (#18) is almost completely out of the water.

14. Another grounded lumber schooner—this time with a fore topsail rig. Lane’s detailing of the stacked lumber is no less meticulous than the care taken by the crew to secure the deck load neatly and securely.

Background: The Outer Harbor and Fort Point:

Lane’s efforts to depict a busy Inner Harbor resulted in almost completely hiding his drawing’s meticulous detailing of Ten Pound Island and Gloucester’s western shore at the mouth of the Outer Harbor.

15. The lighthouse and lightkeeper’s dwelling on Ten Pound Island.

16. George H. Rogers’s new wharf was near completion at the time Lane made his drawing. Once its stone bulkhead pier was finished, a timber wharf on spiles (wood pilings) was built out into deeper water—not deep enough to prevent the sloop obscured by a drying gillnet (#6A) from grounding out and heeling.

17. Ignatius Webber’s windmill, then long out of use, was acquired by Rogers and moved to his new wharf. The windmill’s former site was then becoming part of the grounds for the new Pavilion Hotel (See Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38)). No records have thus far described its new use and contents.

18. John W. Lowe’s wharf and buildings, still standing in this painting, were destroyed by fire in 1877.

– Erik Ronnberg

Viewpoint map showing Lane's location when making this painting. 

 

[+] See More

Related Work in the Catalog

Supplementary Images

Gloucester, Inner Harbor (detail of lobster car and killick, a type of anchor)
 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Subject Types:   Harbor Scene »
Vessel Types:   New England Boat »   //   Schooner »   //   Yawl Boat/ Dory/Wherry »
Vessel Activites:   At Wharf »
Activities of People:   Washing / Drying / Gutting Fish »
Objects:   Anchor »   //   Barrel »   //   Cod »   //   Lobster Car / Trap »
Building Types:   Commercial Building »

Historical Materials
Below is historical information related to the Lane work above. To see complete information on a subject on the Historical Materials page, click on the subject name (in bold and underlined).

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photo (current)
Killick (anchor)
19th century
Stone, oak wood and twine
Sandy Bay Historical Society and Museum, gift of Jack Lawson (1310)

A type of anchor used in dory fishing.

Image: Sandy Bay Historical Society and Museum
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George H. Rogers was one of Gloucester's most enterprising citizens of the mid-nineteenth century. In the early 1830s, he ventured into the Surinam trade with great success, leading him to acquire a wharf at the foot of Sea Street. Due to Harbor Cove's shallow bottom at low tide, berthings at wharves had to be done at high tide, leaving the ships grounded at other times. Many deep-loaded vessels had to anchor outside Harbor cove and be partially off-loaded by "lighters" (shallow-draft vessels that could transfer cargo to the wharves) before final unloading at wharfside. To lessen this problem, Rogers had an unattached extension built out from his wharf into deeper water (see The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester (Harbor Scene), 1848 (inv. 58), right middle ground). The space between the old wharf and the extension may have been a way to evade harbor regulations limiting how far a pier head could extend into the harbor. Stricter rules were not long in coming after this happened!

About 1848, Rogers acquired land on the east end of Fort Point, first putting up a large three-story building adjacent to Fort Defiance, then a very large wharf jutting out into Harbor Cove. Lane's depictions of Harbor Cove and Fort Point show progress of this construction in 1848 (The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester (Harbor Scene), 1848 (inv. 58)), 1850 (Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240)), and c.1851 (Gloucester Harbor (not published)). A corner of the new wharf under construction can also be seen more closely in Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 17) and Ten Pound Island in Gloucester Harbor, 1864 (inv. 104) (foregrounds). This new wharf provided better frontage for large ships to load and unload, as well as larger warehouses and lofts for storage of goods and vessel gear.

By 1860, Rogers was unloading his Surinam cargos at Boston, as ever-larger ships and barks were more easily berthed there. His  Gloucester wharves continued to be used for deliveries of trade goods by smaller vessels. In the late 1860s, Rogers' wharf at Fort Point (called "Fort Wharf" in Gloucester directories) was acquired by (Charles D.) Pettingill & (Nehemiah) Cunningham for use in "the fisheries" as listed by the directory. in 1876, it was sold to (John J.) Stanwood & Company, also for use in "the fisheries." (1)

Lowe's Wharf, adjacent to Fort Wharf, was acquired by (Sylvester) Cunningham & (William) Thompson, c.1877 and used in "the fisheries" as well. That wharf and its buildings were enlarged considerably as the business grew. By this time, Harbor Cove was completely occupied by businesses in the fisheries or providing services and equipment to the fishing fleet. In photographs of Fort Point from this period, it is difficult to distinguish one business from another, so closely are they adjoined.

– Erik Ronnberg

Reference:

1. A city atlas, dated 1899, indicates that Rogers's wharf at Fort Point was still listed as part of his estate. If so, then Stanwood & Co. would have been leasing that facility from the Rogers's estate. 

map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Harbor Cove)
H.F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

Segment of Harbor Village portion of map showing Low's, Rogers', and other wharves in the Inner Harbor.

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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Harbor Parish)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail showing wharves)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
John Hanson, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

[+]
map
1865 Commissioners' Map of Gloucester Harbor Massachusetts
A. Boschke
1865
41 x 29 inches
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives
Maps and Plans, Third Series Maps, v.66:p.1, no. 2352, SC1/series 50X

.

[+]
photo (historical)
View from Belmont House, of a fishing wharf, with the Old Fort of 1812 opposite
William A. Elwell
1876
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Ignatius Weber's windmill (now defunct) is shown.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
[+]
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A grist windmill, originally owned by Ignatius Webber and then by Sidney Mason's father, John Mason, had stood on the hill since 1814, but, in preparation for the Pavilion Hotel, was moved to the inner-harbor side of the old Fort and eventually burned in 1877. Lot on which it stood by the water was sold to Sidney Mason in 1846. The windmill can be seen in several Lane harbor paintings and drawings.

Ignatius Webber’s windmill in its original location appears in View of the Town of Gloucester, Mass., 1836 (inv. 437) (far left, very small, with vanes), and View of Gloucester, (From Rocky Neck), 1846 (inv. 92) (also far left, a bit larger, but without vanes).  After its move to Fort Point, it appears in the drawing of Gloucester Inner Harbor, (sitting on George H. Rogers’ Wharf), just behind the foremast of the two-masted New England boat), View in Gloucester Harbor, 1850s (inv. 143). In the derivative painting owned by the Mariners’ Museum Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), this time it shows up just abaft the same boat’s main mast. The drawing and painting just show the building without vanes.

Related tables: Pavilion Hotel »
illustration
Governor's Hill
Fitz Henry Lane
1830–31
Watercolor on paper
9 x 32 in.

Detail of windmill.

[+]
illustration
View of the Town of Gloucester
Fitz Henry Lane
1836
Lithograph
13 x 19 3/4 in.

Detail of ???

[+]
illustration
View of Gloucester from Rocky Neck
Fitz Henry Lane
1846
Colored lithograph
21 1/2 x 35 1/2 in.

Detail of Ignatius Webber's windmill, without vanes. 

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map
1834-35 Mason Map: Gloucester Harbor (detail 4)
John Mason
1834–35
Lithograph
24 x 38 in.
Gloucester City Archives

"Drawn on a scale of one hundred feet to an inch. By John Mason 1834–45 from Actual Survey showing every Lott and building then standing on them giving the actual size of the buildings and width of the streets from the Canal to the head of the Harbour & part of Eastern point as farr as Smith's Cove and the Shore of the same with all the wharfs then in use. Gloucester Harbor 1834–1835."

This section of the map shows the location of the Pavilion Hotel and ropewalk along the beach.

Also filed under: Maps »   //  Mason, John »   //  Pavilion (Publick) Beach »   //  Pavilion Hotel »   //  Ropewalk »

[+]
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail showing wharves)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
John Hanson, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

[+]
photo (historical)
View from Belmont House, of a fishing wharf, with the Old Fort of 1812 opposite
William A. Elwell
1876
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Ignatius Weber's windmill (now defunct) is shown.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
[+]
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Through the years, this point and its fortifications had many names: Watch House Point, the Old Battery, Fort Defiance, Fort Head, and now just "The Fort." In 1793, Fort Defiance was turned over to the young United States government and was allowed to deteriorate. During the War of 1812 it was described as being "in ruins," and any remaining buildings burned in 1833. It was resuscitated in the Civil War and two batteries of guns were installed. The City of Gloucester did not regain ownership of the land until 1925.

The first fortifications on this point, guarding the entrance to the Inner Harbor, were put up in the 1740s, when fear of attack from the French led to the construction of a battery armed with twelve-pounder guns.  Greater breastworks were thrown up in 1775, after Capt. Lindsay and his sloop-of-war the "Falcon" attacked the unprepared town. They were small and housed only a few cannon and local soldiers.  Several other fortifications were at various times erected around the harbor: Fort Conant at what is now Stage Fort Park, another on Duncan's Point (near site of Lane's house) and the Civil War fort on Eastern Point. None of these preparations was ever called upon to actually defend the town.

Lane during his lifetime created a long series of images of the point and the condition of its fortifications. In 1832 there were still buildings standing, and the point had not yet been used for major wharves and warehouses. By the time of his painting Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38), one can see that the earthwork foundation, but no superstructures, survived. 

– Sarah Dunlap

artwork
Gloucester from the Outer Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
1852
Graphite and watercolor on paper (2 sheets)
9 1/2 x 31 1/2 in. (24.1 x 80 cm)
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.

Detail showing fort.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
[+]
photo (historical)
Harbor Cove and skyline from the fort
unknown
c.1870
4 x 6 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Benham Collection

George Steele sail loft, William Jones spar yard, visible across harbor. Photograph is taken from high point on the Fort, overlooking business buildings on the Harbor Cove side.

[+]
illustration
View of the Old Fort and Harbor 1837
Fitz Henry Lane, attr.
1860
In John J. Babson, History of the Town Gloucester (Gloucester, MA: Procter Brothers, 1860)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

See p. 474.

[+]
publication
1860 Gloucester Telegraph 6.30.1860
6.30.1860
Newsprint
Gloucester Telegraph

About picture of Old Fort hanging in the Gloucester Bank: "This picture is chiefly of interest on account of its preserving so accurately the features of a view so familiar to many of our citizens and which can never exist in reality."

[+]
map
1834–35 Mason Map: Gloucester Harbor (detail 3)
John Mason
1834–35
24 x 38 in.
Gloucester City Archives

"Drawn on a scale of one hundred feet to an inch. By John Mason 1834–45 from Actual Survey showing every Lott and building then standing on them giving the actual size of the buildings and width of the streets from the Canal to the head of the Harbour & part of Eastern point as farr as Smith's Cove and the Shore of the same with all the wharfs then in use. Gloucester Harbor 1834–35."

This map is especially useful in showing the Fort.

[+]
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail showing wharves)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
John Hanson, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

[+]
publication
1862 Cape Ann Advertiser 8.22.1862
8.22.1862
Newsprint
Cape Ann Advertiser
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Fort Hill was occupied by Capt. H. C. Mackay and John Lowe, as a flake-yard, and there were but one or two old fish-houses in the vicinity. The improvements at this point during the last fifteen years have left no traces of its former appearance, almost every landmark having been obliterated. A very good idea of the place as it then appeared may be obtained from the painting of Fitz H. Lane, Esq., now on exhibition at the Reading Room under the Gloucester Bank."

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
[+]
publication
1865 Gloucester Telegraph
1865
Newspaper
Gloucester Telegraph

"By the will of the late Fitz H. Lane, Esq., his handsome painting of the Old Fort, Ten Pound Island, etc., now on exhibition at the rooms of the Gloucester Maritime Insurance Co., was given to the town... It will occupy its present position until the town has a suitable place to receive it."

[+]
publication
1867 Gloucester Telegraph, 10.23.1867
10.23.1867
Newsprint
Gloucester Telegraph

At the dedication of the Town House, speaker, "read the following letter:

To the Selectmen of Gloucester: / Gents: The will of our late Townsman, Fitz. H. Lane, contains this provision: / I give to the inhabitants of the Town of Gloucester, the picture of the Old Fort, to be kept as a memento[sic] of one of the localities of olden time; the said picture now hanging in the Reading Room under the Gloucester Bank, and to be there kept until the Town of Gloucester shall furnish a suitable and safe place to hang it. / The original sketch was taken twenty-five years ago, but the boats and vessels introduced are those of a quarter of a century earlier still. The painting was executed in 1859, six years before his decease."

[+]
photo (historical)
Fort Point
E. G. Rollins
1870s
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

View from top of Unitarian Church on Middle Street looking southeast, showing the Fort and Ten Pound Island. Tappan Block and Main Street buildings between Center and Hancock in foreground.

[+]
photo (historical)
View from Belmont House, of a fishing wharf, with the Old Fort of 1812 opposite
William A. Elwell
1876
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Ignatius Weber's windmill (now defunct) is shown.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
[+]
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The northeast quarter of Gloucester Harbor is an inlet bounded by Fort Point and Rocky Neck at its entrance. It is further indented by three coves: Harbor Cove and Vincent’s Cove on its north side, and Smith’s Cove on its south side. The shallow northeast end is called Head of the Harbor. Collectively, this inlet with its coves and shallows  is called  Inner Harbor.

The entrance to Inner Harbor is a wide channel bounded by Fort Point and Duncan’s Point on its north side, and by Rocky Neck on its south side. From colonial times to the late nineteenth century, it was popularly known as “the Stream” and served as anchorage for deeply loaded vessels for “lightering” (partial off-loading). Subsequently it was known as “Deep Hole.”

Of Inner Harbor’s three coves, Harbor Cove (sometimes called “Old Harbor” in later years) was the deepest and most heavily used by fishing vessels in the Colonial Period, and largely dominated by the foreign trade in the first half of the nineteenth century. Its shallow bottom was the undoing of the foreign trade, as larger vessels became too deep to approach its wharves, and the cove returned to servicing a growing fishing fleet in the 1850s.

Vincent’s Cove, a smaller neighbor to Harbor Cove, was bare ground at low tide, and mostly useless for wharfage. Its shoreline was well suited for shipbuilding, and the cove was deep enough at high tide for launching. Records of shipbuilding there prior to the early 1860s have to date not been found.Smith’s Cove afforded wharfage for fishing vessels at its east entrance, as seen in Lane’s lithograph View of the Town of Gloucester, Mass., 1836 (inv. 86). The rest of the cove saw little use until the expansion of the fisheries after 1865.

The Head of the Harbor begins at the shallows surrounding Five Pound Island, extending to the harbor’s northeast end. Lane’s depiction of this area in Gloucester Harbor, 1847 (inv. 23) shows the problems faced by vessel owners at low tide. Despite the absence of deep water, this area saw rapid development after 1865 when a thriving fishing industry needed waterfront facilities, even if they were accessible only at high tide.

– Erik Ronnberg

photo (historical)
Inner Harbor, Gloucester
c.1870
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive (2013.068)

Schooner fleet anchored in the inner harbor. Looking east from Rocky Neck, Duncan's Point wharves and Lane house (at far left), Sawyer School cupola on Friend Street.

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photo (historical)
Head of the Harbor, Gloucester
William A. Elwell
1876
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Image: Cape Ann Museum
[+]
map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Gloucester Harbor)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Printer. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

[+]
artwork
Key to Lane drawing showing ownership of wharves on Inner Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
View Across Gloucester Inner Cove, from Road near Beach Wharf
1850s
Graphite on paper (2 sheets)
9 1/4 x 22 in. (23.5 x 55.9 cm)
Cape Ann Museum / Erik Ronnberg
[+]
photo (historical)
Harbor Cove and skyline from the fort
unknown
c.1870
4 x 6 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Benham Collection

George Steele sail loft, William Jones spar yard, visible across harbor. Photograph is taken from high point on the Fort, overlooking business buildings on the Harbor Cove side.

[+]
map
1830 Mason Map
John Mason
1830
Series Maps. v. 13: p. 17
SC1 / series 48X
Massachusetts Archives, Boston
Image: Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives
[+]
map
1834–35 Mason Map: Gloucester Harbor (detail 1)
John Mason
1834–35
Lithograph
24 x 38 in.
Gloucester City Archives

"Drawn on a scale of one hundred feet to an inch. By John Mason 1834–45 from Actual Survey showing every Lott and building then standing on them giving the actual size of the buildings and width of the streets from the Canal to the head of the Harbour & part of Eastern point as farr as Smith's Cove and the Shore of the same with all the wharfs then in use. Gloucester Harbor 1834–35." 

This map shows the location of F. E. Low's wharf and the ropewalk. Duncan's Point, the site where Lane would eventually build his studio, is also marked.

The later notes on the map are believed to be by Mason.

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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail showing graving beach)
H.F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

Segment of Harbor Village portion of map showing Collins' and other wharves in the Inner Harbor.

Also filed under: Graving Beach »

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map
1854 U.S. Coast Survey, Gloucester Harbor, Sketch
A. D. Bache, Superintendent, Preliminary Chart of Gloucester Harbor, Massachusetts. (Washington, D.C.: Survey of the Coast of the United States, 1854.)
Collection of Erik Ronnberg
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map
1865 Commissioners' Map of Gloucester Harbor Massachusetts
A. Boschke
1865
41 x 29 inches
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives
Maps and Plans, Third Series Maps, v.66:p.1, no. 2352, SC1/series 50X

.

[+]
photo (historical)
Black Rock Spindle, Gloucester Harbor
N. L. Stebbins, Publisher
1891
Photograph in The Illustrated Coast Pilot with Sailing Directions. The Coast of New England from New York to Eastport, Maine including Bays and Harbors, published by N. L. Stebbins, Boston
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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: Artistic Series No. 29 East Gloucester from Friend street
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
[+]
photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: East Gloucester
E.G. Rollins, Publisher
c.1870s
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

From East Gloucester looking towards Gloucester.

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 908 Winter Scene, Gloucester Harbor
Procter Brothers, Publishers
1876
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Stereo view showing Gloucester Harbor after a heavy snowfall

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photo (historical)
Five Pound Island
c.1870
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Five Pound Island and Gloucester inner harbor taken from the top of Hammond Street building signs in foreground are for Severance, Carpenter and Crane, and Cooper at Clay Cove.  

Also filed under: Five Pound Island »

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artwork
Gloucester Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
Gloucester Harbor
1852
Oil on canvas
28 x 48 1/2 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Deposited by the City of Gloucester, 1952. Given to the city by Mrs. Julian James in memory of her grandfather Sidney Mason, 1913 (DEP. 200)

Detail of fishing schooner.

Also filed under: Schooner (Fishing) »

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artwork
Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck
Fitz Henry Lane
1844
Oil on canvas
34 x 45 3/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Mrs. Jane Parker Stacy (Mrs. George O. Stacy),1948 (1289.1a)

Detail of party boat.

Image: Cape Ann Museum

Also filed under: Party Boat »

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photo (historical)
Lane's House at Duncan's Point
E. G. Rollins
c.1869
Glass plate negative
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Detail from CAHA#00279

The magnificent views of Gloucester Harbor and the islands from the top floor of the stone house at Duncan's Point where Lane had his studio were the inspiration for many of his paintings.

From Buck and Dunlop, Fitz Henry Lane: Family, and Friends, pp. 59–74.

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photo (historical)
Pinky "Mary" at anchor (detail)
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
Glass plate negative
3 x 4 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
#10112
Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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photo (historical)
View from Belmont House, of a fishing wharf, with the Old Fort of 1812 opposite
William A. Elwell
1876
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Ignatius Weber's windmill (now defunct) is shown.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
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illustration
View of the Old Fort and Harbor 1837
Fitz Henry Lane, attr.
1860
In John J. Babson, History of the Town Gloucester (Gloucester, MA: Procter Brothers, 1860)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

See p. 474.

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Gloucester Outer Harbor served as a staging area for deep draft or heavily laden vessels waiting to come into the wharves in the shallow Old Harbor at high tide, or waiting to discharge cargo into smaller vessels. While Lane's paintings typically show one or two vessels in the harbor, works by other artists from the period, as well as contemporary descriptions, demonstrate that the harbor was usually crowded with vessels, especially in bad weather. The Outer Harbor could accommodate as many as three hundred vessels when they needed to shelter during a storm. 

There were two deep spots where they could wait, the "Deep Hole" between Ten Pound Island and the Fort; and the "Pancake Grounds" between Ten Pound Island and Eastern Point. The "Pancake Grounds" also served as a quarantine area for ships arriving from foreign ports. "Deep Hole" was named for the (relatively) deep water between Rocky Neck and Fort Point to the Outer Harbor. Deeply loaded vessels had to anchor there for “lightering” (partial unloading by boats called “lighters”) prior to final unloading at wharfside. "Deep Hole" was 20–25 feet deep at low tide, when Harbor Cove was only 1–6 feet deep with bare ground around some wharves. "Deep Hole" is where you see ships anchored in Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14), The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30), View of Gloucester, Mass., 1859 (not published), Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1847 (inv. 271), and Gloucester Harbor, 1857 (not published) (which is coming to anchor).

The term "Deep Hole" is apparently a post-Bellum term. Prior to that, it was known as "The Stream" and, as later, served as anchorage where deeply loaded vessels could be lightered prior to docking in Harbor Cove. Alfred Mansfield Brooks in his book Gloucester Recollected uses this term on page 53. After the Civil War, merchant shipping in Gloucester was dominated by salt ships and later coal carriers, bringing a whole new culture to the harbor, and with it new names for old places.

photo (historical)
Outer Harbor, Gloucester
John Heywood
c. late 1860s
John Heywood Photo for Hervey Friend
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive (2013.068)

Schooners anchored on the Pancake Ground, taken from from Wonson's Cove, easterly side of the Rocky Neck causeway. Eastern Point Fort and garrison in background to far left. 

Also filed under: Eastern Point »

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 114 Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck
John S. E. Rogers
c.1870
Stereograph card
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, Looking Southwest. This gives a portion of the Harbor lying between Ten Pound Island and Eastern Point. At the time of taking this picture the wind was from the northeast, and a large fleet of fishing and other vessels were in the harbor. In the range of the picture about one hundred vessels were at anchor. In the small Cove in the foreground quite a number of dories are moored. Eastern Point appears on the left in the background."

Southeast Harbor was known for being a safe harbor.

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map
1854 U.S. Coast Survey, Gloucester Harbor, Sketch
A. D. Bache, Superintendent, Preliminary Chart of Gloucester Harbor, Massachusetts. (Washington, D.C.: Survey of the Coast of the United States, 1854.)
Collection of Erik Ronnberg
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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Views: No. 956 Outer Harbor from Fort Defiance
Hervey Friend
c.1870
Stereograph card
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

View from Civil War fort on Eastern Point.

Also filed under: Eastern Point »   //  Historic Photographs »

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map
1830 Mason Map
John Mason
1830
Series Maps. v. 13: p. 17
SC1 / series 48X
Massachusetts Archives, Boston
Image: Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives
[+]
map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (Fresh Water Cove)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850: 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850: 3,213."

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publication
1861 Cape Ann Advertiser Shipping Journal 6.20.1861
6.20.1861
Newsprint
Cape Ann Advertiser
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Notice in the Cape Ann Advertiser announcing arrival of ships into the port of Gloucester, with details of their cargo.

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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publication
1864 Gloucester Telegraph 9.21.1864
9.21.1864
Newspaper

"Lane's studio seldom presents so many attractions to visitors as at the present time. With unwonted rapidity his easel has turned off pictures in answer to the numerous orders which have poured in from all quarters." 

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map
1877 Gloucester Harbor Coastal Survey Map
1877
Electrotype impression
Collection of Erik Ronnberg
[+]
photo (historical)
Fort at Stage Fort Park
J. J. Haws
c.1870
Stereograph card
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
[+]
artwork
Gloucester Mackerel Fishing Fleet, Gloucester Harbor
Stephen Parrish
July 26, 1881
Pencil and ink on paper
15 x 22 1/8 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Mr. Donald K. Usher, in memory of Mrs. Margaret Campbell Usher, 1984 (2401.19)
Image: Cape Ann Museum
[+]
artwork
Untitled (Ships Anchored in Gloucester Harbor)
D. Jerome Elwell
1892
Watercolor on paper
8 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Rev. and Mrs. A. A. Madsen, 1950
Accession # 1468

Fishing schooners in Gloucester's outer harbor, probably riding out bad weather.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
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Ten Pound Island guards the entrance to Gloucester’s Inner Harbor and provides a crucial block to heavy seas running southerly down the Outer Harbor from the open ocean beyond. The rocky island and its welcoming lighthouse is seen, passed, and possibly blessed by every mariner entering the safety of Gloucester’s Inner Harbor after outrunning a storm at sea. Ten Pound Island is situated such that the Inner Harbor is protected from open water on all sides making it one of the safest harbors in all New England.

Legend has it that the island was named for the ten pound sum paid to the Indians for the island, and the smaller Five Pound Island deeper in the Inner Harbor was purchased for that lesser sum. None of it makes much financial sense when the entirety of Cape Ann was purchased for only seven pounds from the Indian Samuel English, grandson of Masshanomett the Sagamore of Agawam in 1700. From approximately 1640 on the island was used to hold rams, and anyone putting female sheep on the island was fined. Gloucester historian Joseph Garland has posited that the name actually came from the number of sheep pens it held, or pounds as they were called, and the smaller Five Pound Island was similarly named.

The island itself is only a few acres of rock and struggling vegetation but is central to the marine life of the harbor as it defines the eastern edge of the deep channel used to turn the corner and enter the Inner Harbor. The first lighthouse was lit there in 1821, and a house was built for the keeper adjacent to the lighthouse. 

In the summer of 1880 Winslow Homer boarded with the lighthouse keeper and painted some of his most masterful and evocative watercolor views of the busy harbor life swirling about the island at all times of day. Boys rowing dories, schooners tacking in and out in all weather, pleasure craft drifting in becalmed water, seen together they tell a Gloucester story of light, water and sail much as Lane’s work did only several decades earlier.

photo (historical)
Postcard of Harbor View and Ten Pound Island
Unknown
c.1900
Colored lithograph
Cape Ann Museum Library and Archive
[+]
photo (historical)
Ten Pound Island Lighthouse
Stebbins, N.L. Publisher
1891
Photograph

From The Illustrated Coast Pilot with Sailing Directions. The Coast of New England from New York to Eastport, Maine including Bays and Harbors, N. L. Stebbins, 1891.

[+]
map
Locator map: Ten Pound Island
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
John Hanson, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
[+]
artwork
The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island
Fitz Henry Lane
1850s
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., deposited by the Collection of Addison Gilbert Hospital, 1978 (DEP. 201)

Detail of party boat.

Image: Cape Ann Museum

Also filed under: Party Boat »

[+]
map
1819 Cape Ann Harbor plan
E. Blunt
1841
Engraving of 1819 survey taken from American Coast Pilot 14th edition
9 1/2 x 8 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
D32 FF5

Also filed under: Dolliver's Neck »   //  Eastern Point »   //  Maps »   //  Norman's Woe »

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publication
1865 Gloucester Telegraph
1865
Newspaper
Gloucester Telegraph

"By the will of the late Fitz H. Lane, Esq., his handsome painting of the Old Fort, Ten Pound Island, etc., now on exhibition at the rooms of the Gloucester Maritime Insurance Co., was given to the town... It will occupy its present position until the town has a suitable place to receive it."

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photo (historical)
Fort Point
E. G. Rollins
1870s
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

View from top of Unitarian Church on Middle Street looking southeast, showing the Fort and Ten Pound Island. Tappan Block and Main Street buildings between Center and Hancock in foreground.

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illustration
View of the Old Fort and Harbor 1837
Fitz Henry Lane, attr.
1860
In John J. Babson, History of the Town Gloucester (Gloucester, MA: Procter Brothers, 1860)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

See p. 474.

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Preceded by Annisquam as the earliest permanently settled harbor and Gloucester’s original first parish, Gloucester Harbor did not become a seaport of significance until the end of the 17th century. Its earliest fishing activity was focused on nearby grounds in the Gulf of Maine, few vessels venturing further to the banks off Canada. After 1700, as maritime activity was well-established in fishing, shipbuilding, and coastal trade, the waterfront saw the expansion of flake yards for drying fish and wharves for berthing and outfitting vessels, loading lumber and fish, and receiving trade goods. Shipbuilding was also carried on, using shorelines with straight slopes not suited for wharves.

By 1740, the majority of Cape Ann-owned vessels were berthed in Gloucester Harbor; three years later, Watch House Point (now called Fort Point) was armed and fortified. The fishing fleet continued to grow, numbering over 140 vessels by the time of the Revolution. A customs office was established in 1768, resulting in strong protests over seizures of contraband. Revolution brought hardship to the fishing industry, forcing many vessel owners to resort to privateering.

Independence saw a much-diminished fishing fleet and a severely impoverished seaport. With the Federally-sponsored incentive of the codfish bounties, Gloucester fishermen began to rebuild their fishing fleet. By 1790, trade with Surinam was under way, leading to the building and purchase of merchant vessels, new wharves, and improvements to old wharves in Harbor Cove, which had become Gloucester’s center of maritime activity. In addition to shipyards and sail lofts, two ropewalks furnished cordage for rigging.

The first four decades of the 19th century saw fitful growth in the fishing industry, due to the interruptions of war and financial panics. Few wharves were added to the waterfront in that period, and when new ones were built, their purpose was to serve the growing Surinam Trade. Fishing had come to its low point in the 1840s when the railroad reached Gloucester, opening a huge inland market for the fish it caught. The use of ice to keep fish fresh, combined with new and faster fishing schooners to get it quickly to port, sparked a revival in Gloucester’s fishing industry. 

As Gloucester’s fishing industry revived, its growth in the Surinam Trade was hampered by its shallow harbor which made berthing of ever larger ships more difficult. Forced to seek a deeper harbor, merchants reluctantly sent their largest ships to Boston for unloading. Between 1850 and 1860, this process continued until ships and warehouses were relocated and their owners commuted to Boston by rail, leaving their old wharves to the fishing fleet. In 1863, the Surinam trade collapsed.                                                                                                                                 

Gloucester’s fishing fleet grew dramatically in the 1850s for more reasons than ice, railroads, and faster schooners. The technology of catching fish also improved dramatically. Hand-line fishing (two hooks on a line) gave way to dory trawling with many hooks on a very long “trawl line,” while fishing for mackerel with hand-lines was replaced by “purse seining,” setting a 1,000-foot-long net in a circle around a school of mackerel. These dramatic improvements in productivity were expensive but made possible by the fishermen organizing a mutual savings bank to serve their needs and a mutual insurance company to cover their risks. These advantages could not be matched by any other fishing communities in New England or in the Canadian Maritime Provinces, sparking a huge migration of fishermen to Gloucester. These newcomers were welcomed to fill a growing work force while Gloucester’s native work force moved on to other, less dangerous, occupations.

Lane’s depictions of Gloucester’s waterfront best illustrate the period before 1850. After that date, his attention turned more to the Harbor’s outer shores, to nearby communities such as Manchester, to New York, back to Boston, and north to Maine. While his lapse of interest is regrettable, the scenes and activity he missed were becoming popular with photographers while his earlier waterfront views are nowhere else to be found.

–Erik Ronnberg

References: 

Dates and happenings were based on (or confirmed by):

Mary Ray and Sarah V. Dunlap, “Gloucester, Massachusetts Historical Time-Line (Gloucester: Gloucester Archives Committee, 2002).

Improvements to Gloucester’s fishing technology, management, and financing are based on:

Wayne O’ Leary, “Maine Sea Fisheries” (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1996), pp. 166–179 (fishing technology), 235–251 (management and financing), and 235–251 (in-migration to Gloucester).

 

photo (historical)
Harbor Cove and skyline from the fort
unknown
c.1870
4 x 6 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Benham Collection

George Steele sail loft, William Jones spar yard, visible across harbor. Photograph is taken from high point on the Fort, overlooking business buildings on the Harbor Cove side.

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photo (historical)
Head of the Harbor, Gloucester
William A. Elwell
1876
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Image: Cape Ann Museum
[+]
photo (historical)
View from Belmont House, of a fishing wharf, with the Old Fort of 1812 opposite
William A. Elwell
1876
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Ignatius Weber's windmill (now defunct) is shown.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
[+]
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail showing wharves)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
John Hanson, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 44 Gloucester Harbor
John S. E. Rogers, Publisher
c.1875
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

This view of Gloucester's Inner Harbor shows three square-rigged vessels in the salt trade at anchor. The one at left is a (full-rigged) ship; the other two are barks. By the nature of their cargos, they were known as "salt ships" and "salt barks" respectively. Due to their draft (too deep to unload at wharfside) they were partially unloaded at anchor by "lighters" before being brought to the wharves for final unloading.

– Erik Ronnberg

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 82 View of Sch. "E. A. Horton"
Procter Brothers, Publisher
1870s
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Said schooner was captured about the first of September, 1871, by Capt. Torry, of the Dominion Cutter 'Sweepstakes,' for alleged violation of the Fishery Treaty. She was gallantly recaptured from the harbor of Guysboro, N.S., by Capt. Harvey Knowlton., Jr., (one of her owners,) assisted by six brave seamen, on Sunday night, Oct. 8th. The Dominion Government never asked for her return, and the United States Government very readily granted her a new set of papers."

Also filed under: Fishing »   //  Historic Photographs »   //  Schooner (Fishing) »

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 908 Winter Scene, Gloucester Harbor
Procter Brothers, Publishers
1876
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Stereo view showing Gloucester Harbor after a heavy snowfall

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model
Crib wharf model, period 1825
Laurence Jensen
c.1898
Wood, metal, and paint
20 1/4 x 10 1/4 x 10 1/2 in., scale: 1/2" = 1'
Made for the Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1892–93
Cape Ann Museum, from Gloucester Chamber of Commerce

The wharf is built up of "cribs", square (sometimes rectangular) frames of logs, resembling a log cabin, but with spaces between crib layers that allow water to flow freely through the structure.Beams are laid over the top crib, on which the "deck" of the wharf is built. Vertical pilings (or "spiles" as locally known) are driven at intervals to serve as fenders where vessels are tied up.

– Erik Ronnberg

Image: Erik Ronnberg

Also filed under: Cob / Crib Wharf »

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photo (historical)
Gloucester wharf
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Fishing »   //  Historic Photographs »

[+]
photo (historical)
Inner Harbor, Gloucester
c.1870
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive (2013.068)

Schooner fleet anchored in the inner harbor. Looking east from Rocky Neck, Duncan's Point wharves and Lane house (at far left), Sawyer School cupola on Friend Street.

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The colonial American shallop is the ancestor of many regional types of New England fishing craft found in Lane's paintings and drawings, including "New England Boats" (known as "boats"), and later descendents, such as "Chebacco Boats," "Dogbodies," and "Pinkies." (discussed elsewhere)

These boats were very common work boat types on Cape Ann throughout the 1800s. They were primarily used for inshore coastal fishing, which included lobstering, gill-netting, fish-trapping, hand-lining, and the like. They were usually sailed by one or two men, sometimes with a boy, and could be rowed as well as sailed. An ordinary catch would include rock cod, flounder, fluke, dabs, or other small flat fish. The catch would be eaten fresh, or salted and stored for later consumption, or used as bait fish. Gill-netting would catch herring and alewives when spawning. Wooden lobster traps were marked with buoys much as they are today, and hauled over the low sides of the boat, emptied of lobsters and any by-catch, re-baited and thrown back.

THE SHALLOP

Like other colonial vessel types, shallops were defined in many ways, including size, construction, and rig. Most commonly, they were open boats with square or sharp sterns, 20 to 30 feet in length, two-masted rigs, and heavy sawn­frame construction which in time became lighter. (1)

The smaller shallops developed into a type called the Hampton Boat early in the nineteenth century, becoming the earliest named regional variant of what is now collectively termed the New England Boat. Other variants were named for their regions of origin: Isles of Shoals Boat, Casco Bay Boat, No Mans Land Boat, to name a few. No regional name for a Cape Ann version has survived, and "boat," or "two­-masted boat" seems to have sufficed. (2)

Gloucester's New England Boats were mostly double-­enders (sharp sterns) ranging in length from 25 to 30 feet, with two masts and two sails (no bowsprit or jib). They were used in the shore fisheries: hand­lining, gill­netting, and gathering or trapping shellfish (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94), View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), and /entry: 240/). (3)

Larger, double­-ended shallops became decked and evolved in Ipswich (the part now called Essex) to become Chebacco Boats. (4) This variant retained the two­-mast, two-­sail rig, but evolved further, acquiring a bowsprit and jib and becoming known as a pinky (see Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14), The Western Shore with Norman's Woe, 1862 (inv. 18), and The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30)). The Chebacco Boat became a distinct type by the mid-eighteenth century giving rise to the pinky in the early ninetennth century; the latter, by the early 1900s. (5)

References:

1. William A. Baker, Sloops & Shallops (Barre, MA: Barre Publishing Co., 1966), 27–­33; and “Vessel Types of Colonial Massachusetts,” in Seafaring in Colonial Massachusetts (Boston: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1980), 13­–15, see figs. 10, 11.

2. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 136­–45.

3. Ibid., 145, upper photo, fourth page of plates.

4. Baker, 82–91.

5. Chapelle, The American Fishing Schooners, 1825­–1935 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1973), 23­–54.

THE NEW ENGLAND BOAT

By the 1840s, the Gloucester version of the New England Boat had evolved into a distinct regional type. Referred to locally as “boats,” the most common version was a double-ender, i.e. having a pointed stern, unlike the less common version having a square stern.

Both variants had two masts, a foresail, a mainsail, but no bowsprit or jib. Lane depicted both in several paintings, beginning in the mid­-1840s (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94), View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), and /entry: 240/), all ranging 25 to 30 feet in length. In View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), a double-­ender can be seen on the beach while a square-stern version lies at anchor in the harbor, just to the right of the former. (1)

Lane’s depictions of the double-­enders show lapstrake hull planking in View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), and cuddies (short decking) inboard at the ends for shelter and stowage of fishing gear in View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94). The few square-­stern examples (see View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240)) suggest carvel (smooth) planking and paint finish, rather than oil and tar. The presence of an example of the latter variant in Boston Harbor, as noted in Boston Harbor, c. 1850 (inv. 48), suggests a broader geographical range for this sub­type. (2)

The primary use of Cape Ann’s “boats” was fishing, making “day trips” to coastal grounds for cod, herring, mackerel, hake, flounder, and lobster, depending on the season. Fishing gear included hooks and lines, gill nets, and various traps made of wood and fish net.

Some boats worked out of Gloucester Harbor, but other communities on Cape Ann had larger fleets, such as Sandy Bay, Pigeon Cove, Folly Cove, Lanesville, Bay View, and Annisquam. Lane’s depictions of these places and their boats are rare to nonexistent. (3)

The double­-ended boat served Lane in marking the passage of time in Gloucester Harbor. In View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94), we see new boats setting out to fish, but in View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), a boat of the same type is depicted in a progressively worn state. In Stage Fort across Gloucester Harbor, 1862 (inv. 237), the boat is a stove hulk on a beach, and in the same year, Lane depicted the type’s shattered bottom frame and planking lying on the shore at Norman’s Woe in Norman's Woe, Gloucester Harbor, 1862 (inv. 1).

Regional variants of the New England Boat appear in Lane’s paintings of Maine harbors, including one­ and two­-masted versions, collectively called Hampton Boats (see Bear Island, Northeast Harbor, 1855 (inv. 24), Ten Pound Island at Sunset, 1851 (inv. 25), Fishing Party, 1850 (inv. 50), Father's (Steven's) Old Boat, 1851 (inv. 190), and "General Gates" at Anchor off Our Encampment at Bar Island in Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, 1850 (inv. 192)). Some distinctive regional types were given names, i.e. Casco Bay Boats ("General Gates" at Anchor off Our Encampment at Bar Island in Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, 1850 (inv. 192) may be one), but many local type names, if they were coined, have been lost. (4)

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 141–42.

2. Ibid., 152­–55.

3. Sylvanus Smith, Fisheries of Cape Ann (Gloucester, MA: Press of the Gloucester Times, 1915), 96–­97, 102–05, 110­–13.

4. Chapelle, 152–55.

photo (historical)
Casco Bay boat "Grey Eagle" at head of Lobster Cove, Annisquam
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library and Archives

Variant of the New England boat described by Howard I. Chapelle in American Small Sailing Craft (1951), pp. 152–55.

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model
Colonial Shallop model (broadside)
MIT Museum
Image: Colonial Shallop Model made by Malcolm Gidley under supervision of William A. Baker, N.A. Courtesy of Hart Nautical Collections, MIT Museum, Cambridge

Also filed under: Ship Models »

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model
Colonial Shallop model (stern view)
MIT Museum
Image: Colonial Shallop Model made by Malcolm Gidley under supervision of William A. Baker, N.A. Courtesy of Hart Nautical Collections, MIT Museum, Cambridge

Also filed under: Ship Models »

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Schooners in Lane’s time were, with few exceptions, two-masted vessels carrying a fore-and-aft rig having one or two jibs, a fore staysail, gaff-rigged fore- and main sails, and often fore- and main topsails. One variant was the topsail schooner, which set a square topsail on the fore topmast. The hulls of both types were basically similar, their rigs having been chosen for sailing close to the wind. This was an advantage in the coastal trade, where entering confined ports required sailing into the wind and frequent tacking. The square topsail proved useful on longer coastwise voyages, the topsail providing a steadier motion in offshore swells, reducing wear and tear on canvas from the slatting of the fore-and-aft sails. (1)

Schooners of the types portrayed by Lane varied in size from 70 to 100 feet on deck. Their weight was never determined, and the term “tonnage” was a figure derived from a formula which assigned an approximation of hull volume for purposes of imposing duties (port taxes) on cargoes and other official levies. (2)

Crews of smaller schooners numbered three or four men. Larger schooners might carry four to six if a lengthy voyage was planned. The relative simplicity of the rig made sail handling much easier than on a square-rigged vessel. Schooner captains often owned shares in their vessels, but most schooners were majority-owned by land-based firms or by individuals who had the time and business connections to manage the tasks of acquiring and distributing the goods to be carried. (3)

Many schooners were informally “classified” by the nature of their work or the cargoes they carried, the terminology coined by their owners, agents, and crews—even sometimes by casual bystanders. In Lane’s lifetime, the following terms were commonly used for the schooner types he portrayed:

Coasting schooners: This is the most general term, applied to any merchant schooner carrying cargo from one coastal port to another along the United States coast (see Bar Island and Mt. Desert Mountains from Somes Settlement, 1850 (not published), right foreground). (4)

Packet schooners: Like packet sloops, these vessels carried passengers and various higher-value goods to and from specific ports on regular schedules. They were generally better-maintained and finished than schooners carrying bulk cargoes (see The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30), center; and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), stern view). (5)

Lumber schooners: Built for the most common specialized trade of Lane’s time, they were fitted with bow ports for loading lumber in their holds (see View of Southwest Harbor, Maine: Entrance to Somes Sound, 1852 (not published)) and carried large deck loads as well (Stage Rocks and the Western Shore of Gloucester Outer Harbor, 1857 (inv. 8), right). Lumber schooners intended for long coastal trips were often rigged with square topsails on their fore masts (see Becalmed Off Halfway Rock, 1860 (inv. 344), left; Maverick House, 1835 (not published); and Lumber Schooner in a Gale (not published)). (6)

Schooners in other specialized trades. Some coasting schooners built for carrying varied cargoes would be used for, or converted to, special trades. This was true in the stone trade where stone schooners (like stone sloops) would be adapted for carrying stone from quarries to a coastal destination. A Lane depiction of a stone schooner is yet to be found. Marsh hay was a priority cargo for gundalows operating around salt marshes, and it is likely that some coasting schooners made a specialty of transporting this necessity for horses to urban ports which relied heavily on horses for transportation needs. Lane depicted at least two examples of hay schooners (see Gloucester Harbor, 1850s (inv. 391), left; and Coasting Schooner off Boon Island (not published)), their decks neatly piled high with bales of hay, well secured with rope and tarpaulins.

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, The History of American Sailing Ships (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1935), 258. While three-masted schooners were in use in Lane’s time, none have appeared in his surviving work; and Charles S. Morgan, “New England Coasting Schooners”, The American Neptune 23, no. 1 (DATE): 5–9, from an article which deals mostly with later and larger schooner types.

2. John Lyman, “Register Tonnage and its Measurement”, The American Neptune V, nos. 3–4 (DATE). American tonnage laws in force in Lane’s lifetime are discussed in no. 3, pp. 226–27 and no. 4, p. 322.

3. Ship Registers of the District of Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1789–1875 (Salem, MA: The Essex Institute, 1944). Vessels whose shipping or fishing voyages included visits to foreign ports were required to register with the Federal Customs agent at their home port. While the vessel’s trade or work was unrecorded, their owners and master were listed, in addition to registry dimensions and place where built. Records kept by the National Archives can be consulted for information on specific voyages and ports visited.

4. Howard I. Chapelle, The National Watercraft Collection (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1960), 40, 42–43.

5. Ibid., 42–43, 73.

6. Ibid., 74–76.

photo (historical)
Coasting schooner "Polly"
Photograph
[+]
Lumber schooner in Gloucester Harbor
1852
Photograph

Also filed under: Lumber Industry »

[+]
illustration
Topsail Schooner
In R. H. Dana, The Seaman's Friend, 13th ed. (Thomas Groom & Co. Publisher, 1873)

A topsail schooner has no tops at her foremast, and is fore-and-aft rigged at her mainmast. She differs from an hermaphrodite brig in that she is not properly square-rigged at her foremast, having no top, and carrying a fore-and-aft foresail instead of a square foresail and a spencer.

[+]
object
1892 Gloucester Harbor Diorama (detail of marine railway)
Lawrence Jensen, Erik. A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.
Detail views: marine railway and hauling cradle for vessel
Wood rails, metal rollers, chain; wood cradle. Scale: ½" = 1' (1:24)
Original diorama components made, 1892; replacements made, 1993.
Cape Ann Museum, from Gloucester Chamber of Commerce, 1925 (2014.071)

A schooner is shown hauled out on a cradle which travels over racks of rollers on a wood and metal track.

[+]
photo (historical)
Lobsterman and dory at Lane's Cove
Photographer unknown
c. 1900
Glass plate negative
Collection of Erik Ronnberg

Also filed under: Lobstering »

[+]
PDF
view ]
publication
Maine Register for 1855 (Lumber)
George Adams, publisher
"The Maine Register for the Year 1855, embracing State and County Officers, and an abstract of the law and resolves; together with a complete business directory of the state, and a variety of useful information."

Details about Maine's lumber trade in 1855, see pp. 250–52

Also filed under: Castine »   //  Lumber Industry »

[+]
illustration
View of the Old Fort and Harbor 1837
Fitz Henry Lane, attr.
1860
In John J. Babson, History of the Town Gloucester (Gloucester, MA: Procter Brothers, 1860)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

See p. 474.

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The term “wherry”—variously spelled—has a long history with many hull types, some dating from the fifteenth century. (1) The version known to Lane appears to be a variant of the dory hull form and probably was developed by French and English fishermen in the Newfoundland fisheries before 1700. (2) From that time, the wherry and the dory co-evolved, their similarities the result of their construction, their differences the result of use. By the early nineteenth century, their forms reached their final states, if fragments of contemporary descriptions are any indication. (3)

By the time Lane was depicting wherries, the type (as used for fishing) resembled a larger, wider version of a dory. The extra width was due to greater bottom width (both types had flat bottoms), with a wider transom at the stern instead of the narrow, v-shaped “tombstone.” These features are easy to see in one of his drawings (see Three Men, One in a Wherry (inv. 225)) and a painting (see Sunrise through Mist, 1852 (inv. 98)), the latter depicted alongside a dory, clearly showing the differences.

No published descriptions of the uses of wherries on Cape Ann in Lane’s time have come to light, but an example in broadside view offers one use. In Becalmed Off Halfway Rock, 1860 (inv. 344), a pinky (in right foreground) has a dory and a wherry in tow, the latter loaded with a gill net for catching mackerel. (4) The greater size of the wherry is required for stowing the net, as well as setting it while the dory tows away one end to set it in way of the mackerel school.

In Lane’s time, wherries would have been used where bulky gear was called for in the coastal fisheries, i.e. gill nets, and fish traps such as pound nets, fyke nets, and lobster traps. Migrating fish schools (herring, mackerel) and shellfish were the target species.

The dory’s development was first dictated by its use in shore fishing, where small size and light weight made it easy to maneuver around rocks and shallows, and to haul ashore at the end of a day’s work. Its simple design made it easy and cheap to build. This is borne out by the standardized construction and sizes used by Simon Lowell’s boat shop at Salisbury Point, Massachusetts at the turn of the nineteenth century. Lowell called his boats “wherries,” but in Swampscott, Massachusetts, the fishermen, who used them called them “dories,” which may mark the beginning of the latter term’s wider use. (5)

The dories we see in Lane’s paintings are in virtually every way like the ones we know today. One of the best examples (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94)) even shows interior detail, including frames, leaving no doubt about its construction. Other good examples are found in Salem Harbor, 1853 (inv. 53), View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), and Sunrise through Mist, 1852 (inv. 98).

For inshore fishing, dories were used to catch mackerel and herring, either with hook and line or with small nets. Hooks and line were used for flat fish (flounder, dab, and fluke), rock cod, hake, and cunner. Eels were speared (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94)), clams were dug, and lobsters trapped. In Lane’s later years, the use of dories in trawling (setting long “trawl lines” with many baited hooks) was in its earliest. This method required six to ten dories carried on board a schooner to fish on the distant banks off New England and Canada. Early records of dory trawling in New England are fragmentary, giving the mid-1840s as the time of introduction. (6) The Gloucester-owned schooner "Anna"  made a successful dory trawling trip to the Grand Banks in 1854, but no depiction of this vessel by Lane has been found or recorded. (5) Despite successful early efforts, dory trawling from Gloucester was slow to be accepted, and the fishery had very limited growth prior to 1860. (7)

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. M.H. Parry et al., Aak to Zumbra (Newport News, VA: The Mariners’ Museum, 2000), 634.

2. John Gardner, The Dory Book (Camden, ME: International Marine Publishing Company, 1978), 5–9.

3. Ibid., 25–29.

4. John Wilmerding, ed., Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1988), 89, 92. The “possibly discarded whaleboat” is definitely a wherry.

5. Gardner, 9, 10.

6. Wesley George Pierce, Goin’ Fishin’ (Salem, MA: Marine Research Society, 1934), 63–64.

7. Raymond McFarland, A History of New England Fisheries (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1911), 279.

photo (historical)
Lobsterman's dory beached at Salt Island
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
[+]
photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 114 Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck
John S. E. Rogers
c.1870
Stereograph card
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, Looking Southwest. This gives a portion of the Harbor lying between Ten Pound Island and Eastern Point. At the time of taking this picture the wind was from the northeast, and a large fleet of fishing and other vessels were in the harbor. In the range of the picture about one hundred vessels were at anchor. In the small Cove in the foreground quite a number of dories are moored. Eastern Point appears on the left in the background."

Southeast Harbor was known for being a safe harbor.

[+]
model
Model of the pinky "Essex" with dory and wherry alongside
Model and photography by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.
[+]
illustration
Hull chart
In Howard I. Chappelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: Norton, 1951), p. 154

See fig. 56.

[+]
model
Joseph A. Proctor (Gloucester, MA) fisherman's dory
Wood
Gloucester, MA
4 x 33 1/2 x 7 1/4 in (10.16 x 85.09 x 18.415 cm)
Peabody Essex Museum
Image: Peabody Essex Museum

Also filed under: Objects »   //  Ship Models »

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The yawl boat was a ninteenth-century development of earlier ships' boats built for naval and merchant use. Usually twenty feet long or less, they had round bottoms and square sterns; many had raking stem profiles. Yawl boats built for fishing tended to have greater beam than those built for vessels in the coastal trades. In the hand-line fisheries, where the crew fished from the schooner's rails, a single yawl boat was hung from the stern davits as a life boat or for use in port. Their possible use as lifeboats required greater breadth to provide room for the whole crew. In port, they carried crew, provisions, and gear between schooner and shore. (1)

Lane's most dramatic depictions of fishing schooners' yawl-boats are found in his paintings Gloucester Outer Harbor, from the Cut, 1850s (inv. 109) and /entry:311. Their hull forms follow closely that of Chapelle's lines drawing. (2) Similar examples appear in the foregrounds of Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38), Ships in Ice off Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 44), and The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1847 (inv. 271). A slightly smaller example is having its bottom seams payed with pitch in the foreground of Gloucester Harbor, 1847 (inv. 23). In Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), a grounded yawl boat gives an excellent view of its seating arrangement, while fishing schooners in the left background have yawl boats hung from their stern davits, or floating astern.

One remarkable drawing, Untitled (inv. 219) illustrates both the hull geometry of a yawl boat and Lane's uncanny accuracy in depicting hull form in perspective. No hull construction other than plank seams is shown, leaving pure hull form to be explored, leading in turn to unanswered questions concerning Lane's training to achieve such understanding of naval architecture.

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 222–23.

2. Ibid., 223.

artwork
Ships in Ice
Fitz Henry Lane
1850s
Oil on canvas
12 1/8 x 19 3/4 in.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bequest of Martha C. Karolik for the M.and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815-1865 (48.447)

A schooner's yawl lies marooned in the ice-bound harbor in this detail.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
[+]
artwork
Gloucester Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
1847
Oil on canvas
28 1/2 x 41 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Estate of Samuel H. Mansfield, 1949 (1332.20)

Detail showing yawl boat having its bottom seams payed with pitch.

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The Ten Pound Island light was built on a three-and-a-half acre island at the eastern end of Gloucester Harbor. Built as a conical stone tower, the original 20-foot-tall Ten Pound Island Light was first lit in October, 1821 after the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Town of Gloucester ceded 1.7 acres to the U.S. Government for the construction of an inner harbor lighthouse to help mariners navigate the harbor. Ten Pound Island light was a popular subject with artists, including Winslow Homer, who boarded with the lighthouse keeper at Ten Pound Island in the summer of 1880. It is frequently featured in Lane's paintings of Gloucester Harbor.

This information has been shared with the Lane project by Jeremy D'Entremont. More information can be found at his website, www.newenglandlighthouses.net or in The Lighthouse Handbook New England. This information has also been summarized from Paul St. Germain's book, Lighthouses and Lifesaving Stations on Cape Ann.

Related tables: Ten Pound Island »
map
1830 Mason Map
John Mason
1830
Series Maps. v. 13: p. 17
SC1 / series 48X
Massachusetts Archives, Boston
Image: Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives
[+]
artwork
Engraving of the first Ten Pound Island lighthouse
1871
Lithograph
History of Ten Pound Island Light, Gloucester, Mass.
© Jeremy D'Entremont
[+]
photo (historical)
Postcard of Harbor View and Ten Pound Island
Unknown
c.1900
Colored lithograph
Cape Ann Museum Library and Archive

Also filed under: Ten Pound Island »

[+]
photo (historical)
Ten Pound Island Lighthouse
Stebbins, N.L. Publisher
1891
Photograph

From The Illustrated Coast Pilot with Sailing Directions. The Coast of New England from New York to Eastport, Maine including Bays and Harbors, N. L. Stebbins, 1891.

Also filed under: Ten Pound Island »

[+]
photo (historical)
The first Ten Pound Island Lighthouse
c.1860s
Photograph
U.S. Coast Guard
Photography courtesy of : http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net

The photo shows the first lighthouse constructed in 1821.

[+]
illustration
View of the Old Fort and Harbor 1837
Fitz Henry Lane, attr.
1860
In John J. Babson, History of the Town Gloucester (Gloucester, MA: Procter Brothers, 1860)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

See p. 474.

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Cod fishing with hand-lines (hand-lining) from the deck of a schooner was the predominant method used on offshore fishing grounds prior to the Civil War. Offshore grounds included the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, the banks off Nova Scotia, numerous small grounds in the Gulf of Maine, and Georges Bank.

Hand-lining from dories and wherries was the inshore version of this fishery, the boats being hauled ashore at the end of a day's work.Their fishing grounds ranged from the shoreline to Ipswich Bay, and a multitude of small grounds a mile or two offshore. Colonial fishermen found the inshore grounds off Cape Ann—particularly Ipswich Bay—extremely rich, so much so that these grounds were the prime sources of market fish in that period.

Early the nineteenth century, hand-lining gear had become surprisingly complex, consisting of two hooks with leaders (gangings), swivels, a bridle and spreader, and a 20-pound sinker and staff. This rig was attached to a hand-line which could be as long as 900 feet, depending on the depth and type of bottom being fished. Gear of this size and complexity was coiled and stowed in a tub, instead of being wound on a wood frame.

Inshore fishing gear was much simpler: a line on a wooden winder, a hook at the end, and a sinker hitched to the line at the desired distance from the hook.

– Erik Ronnberg

illustration
Cod hand-line gear
Capt. J. W. Collins
1883
Steel engraving after drawing in G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)
8 1/2 x 11 in. (page size)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

See pl. 31.

Shows the two basic types of hand-line gear in use in mid-ninteenth century. At left is the Georges gear, developed for fishing on Georges Bank. At right is shoal water gear, as commonly used in the inshore fisheries using dories and other small craft. The spreader, or "sling-ding" was used on this type of gear with the advent of dory hand-lining on offshore grounds.

Also filed under: Hand-lining »

[+]
illustration
George's Bank crew hand-line fishing
H. W. Elliott and J. W. Collins
1883
Steel engraving after drawing in G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1883)
8 1/2 x 11 in. (page size)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

See pl. 32.

Also filed under: Georges Bank, Mass. »   //  Hand-lining »

[+]
photo (historical)
'"Fish out of Water"; drying cod from Grand Banks on racks at a Cape Ann wharf'
Underwood & Underwood, Publisher
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Drying Fish »   //  Flake Yard »   //  Historic Photographs »

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publication
1862 Cape Ann Advertiser 1.10.1862
1.10.1862
Newsprint
Cape Ann Advertiser
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck

"VISIT TO LANE'S STUDIO.

We called at the studio of this artist a few days ago, and found several new paintings had been added to his collection since our last visit. The first that arrested our attention was a view of Good Harbor Beach. . . .

A scene outside Eastern Point, during a fresh sou'wester, is full of life, and faithfully portrayed on the canvass. . . .

A fancy sketch, representing a storm scene, is also on exhibition. . . .

The Artist has now on his easel a large picture 36x60, just commenced, which we should judge would be his master-piece. It will be on exhibition when finished, and we forbear a description of it at this time. Mr. Lane, as a marine painter, ranks first in the country, and we are pleased to chronicle his success in producing such life-like pictures."

Image: Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck
[+]
illustration
Landing cod at a fish pier
H. W. Elliott
1883
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)

A vessel having returned from the fishing grounds with a fare of split salted cod, is discharging it at a fish pier for re-salting and drying. The fish are tossed from deck to wharf with sharp two-pronged gaffs, and from there to a large scale for weighing. From there, they will be taken to another part of the wharf for washing and re-salting.

– Erik Ronnberg

Also filed under: Drying Fish »   //  Fishing »   //  Georges Bank, Mass. »

[+]
publication
Mammoth Cod Quickstep
Unknown
1839
T. Moore's Lithography, Boston
12 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.
20 x 16 3/4 in (Framed)
Cape Ann Museum, Museum Purchase (2014.089.2)
[+]
photo (historical)
Preparing codfish for the market, Gloucester, Mass.
Stereograph card
New York Public Library

Also filed under: Drying Fish »

[+]
illustration
The George's Bank Cod Fishery
Paul E. Collins
c.1885
Gravure plate printing on pulp paper in G. Brown Goode The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)
7 1/2 x 5 7/8 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

See pl. 30.

Derived with modifications from Lane's painting, /entry:9/, the image depicts fishing in heavy weather on Georges Bank. While Lane's version was intended to depict this fishery in the 1840s, Collins' version shows a dory on the stern davits instead of a yawl boat—a practice that became common after the Civil War.

– Erik Ronnberg

[+]
illustration
Washing and re-salting fish for drying
H. W. Elliott
1887
In G. Brown Goode The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)

See pl. 35.

After landing and weighing, the cod are split and washed, a dory filled with water serving as the wash tub. Once thoroughly rinsed of the coarse first salting, the split cod are piled in the wharf shed where they will be re-salted, usually with a finer grade of salt, and stored in bins or large casks until ready for drying on the fish flakes.

– Erik Ronnberg

Also filed under: Drying Fish »

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Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities: Fishing

Fishing in Lane's time saw the height of hand-lining gear use and the introduction of multi-hook fishing (trawling) for ground fish (cod, halibut, haddock, hake, etc.). Then new to the mackerel fishery was the purse seine, which allowed a whole school of mackerel to be caught in one "set" instead of hand-lining over the rails, one fish at a time. These changes in fishing technology, in time, brought new life to the fishing industry on Cape Ann, which had ceded her leadership in the New England fishing industry to Maine. (1)

Lane would not live to see Cape Ann's restored dominance in the fisheries, nor did his late work document the process of change in any significant way. Apparently content with what he saw and depicted in the 1840s and early '50s, he did little to explore later developments and focused more on other types of merchant vessels in other harbors.

– Erik Ronnberg

Reference:

Wayne O'Leary, Maine Sea Fisheries (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1996), 160–79.

chart
Chart of fishing grounds from Penobscot Bay to Cape Ann
c. 1850
Chart
Fishery Industries of the United States, Sect. 3

Also filed under: Penobscot Bay »

[+]
photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 82 View of Sch. "E. A. Horton"
Procter Brothers, Publisher
1870s
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Said schooner was captured about the first of September, 1871, by Capt. Torry, of the Dominion Cutter 'Sweepstakes,' for alleged violation of the Fishery Treaty. She was gallantly recaptured from the harbor of Guysboro, N.S., by Capt. Harvey Knowlton., Jr., (one of her owners,) assisted by six brave seamen, on Sunday night, Oct. 8th. The Dominion Government never asked for her return, and the United States Government very readily granted her a new set of papers."

[+]
publication
1857 Cape Ann Advertiser 10.1.1857
Procter Brothers
Various dates
Newsprint
From bound volume owned by publisher Francis Procter
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck

"A Prize Race—We have heard it intimated that some of our fishermen intend trying the merits of their "crack" schooners this fall, after the fishing season is done. Why not! . . .Such a fleet under full press of sail, would be worth going many a mile to witness; then for the witchery of Lane's matchless pencil to fix the scene upon canvass. . ."

Image: Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck
[+]
publication
1861 Cape Ann Advertiser 12.13.1861
12.13.1861
Newspaper

This article details a War Correspondence and an argument against the retrenchment of the Gloucester fishing business.

[+]
publication
1861 Cape Ann Advertiser 12.6.1861
12.6.1861
Newspaper

"They remarked, that if the fishing business is to be continued in the town of Gloucester, and followed successfully, there must be a retrenchment in the outfits..." 

[+]
publication
1862 Cape Ann Advertiser 1.10.1862
1.10.1862
Newsprint
Cape Ann Advertiser
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck

"VISIT TO LANE'S STUDIO.

We called at the studio of this artist a few days ago, and found several new paintings had been added to his collection since our last visit. The first that arrested our attention was a view of Good Harbor Beach. . . .

A scene outside Eastern Point, during a fresh sou'wester, is full of life, and faithfully portrayed on the canvass. . . .

A fancy sketch, representing a storm scene, is also on exhibition. . . .

The Artist has now on his easel a large picture 36x60, just commenced, which we should judge would be his master-piece. It will be on exhibition when finished, and we forbear a description of it at this time. Mr. Lane, as a marine painter, ranks first in the country, and we are pleased to chronicle his success in producing such life-like pictures."

Image: Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck
[+]
photo (historical)
Carting dried codfish
c.1890
Photograph
NOAA

Also filed under: Drying Fish »

[+]
photo (historical)
Centennial Photographic Co. Philadelphia: International Exhibition, 1876
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Diorama of Gloucester fishing boats, which includes several models now in the collection of the Cape Ann Museum

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »   //  Ship Models »

[+]
object
Fish basket
maker unknown
early 20th century
Wood, wicker, cordage
19 1/2 x 23 in.
Cape Ann Museum (2089-3 G/O EARR)

Used at wharfside for carrying fish and small fishing gear.

Image: Erik Ronnberg
[+]
illustration
Gill nets deployed
1883
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

Also filed under: Gill Netting »

[+]
illustration
Gloucester Town Seal
Addison Center
designed 1872
1873 Gloucester City Directory (1)

"The design is very pretty and appropriate . . .In the centre of the seal is a representation of a fishing schooner anchored on the banks, copied from a picture painted by that talented artist, the late Mr. Fitz H. Lane." (2)

References:

1. Gloucester City Directory. (Gloucester, MA: Sampson, Davenport, & Co., 1873), front page.

2. "The Town Seal": designed by Capt. Addison Center," Cape Ann Weekly Advertiser, February 9, 1872. 

[+]
photo (historical)
Gloucester wharf
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
[+]
photo (current)
Killick (anchor)
19th century
Stone, oak wood and twine
Sandy Bay Historical Society and Museum, gift of Jack Lawson (1310)

A type of anchor used in dory fishing.

Image: Sandy Bay Historical Society and Museum
[+]
illustration
Landing cod at a fish pier
H. W. Elliott
1883
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)

A vessel having returned from the fishing grounds with a fare of split salted cod, is discharging it at a fish pier for re-salting and drying. The fish are tossed from deck to wharf with sharp two-pronged gaffs, and from there to a large scale for weighing. From there, they will be taken to another part of the wharf for washing and re-salting.

– Erik Ronnberg

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photo (historical)
Mr. Parsons with a Dip Net
Martha H. Harvey
1890s
Image: Photo courtesy Cape Ann Museum
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model
Shadow box model of Burnham Marine Railway
Erik Ronnberg
1997
Wood, cordage, acrylic paste, metal
~40 in. x 30 in.
Erik Ronnberg

Model shows mast of fishing vessel being unstepped.

Image: Erik Ronnberg
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illustration
The gill net cod fishery
H. W. Elliott and Capt. Joseph W. Collins
1887
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)

See pl. 45.

Underrunning cod gill-nets in Ipswich Bay, Mass. 

Also filed under: Gill Netting »

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photo (historical)
untitled
Martha H. Harvey
1890s
Image: Photo courtesy Cape Ann Museum
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photo (historical)
Weighing Up the Catch, Gloucester, Mass.
Unknown
New York Public Library

Also filed under: Drying Fish »

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photo (historical)
[Main Street Fish Market]
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

View shows Main Street Fish Market, Gloucester, Mass.

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Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities: Gill Netting

Gill netting is a fishing method wherein a fish swims into a net, entangling its gill covers in the mesh and is thus unable to free itself. This method works especially well with smaller species (mackerel and herring) which swim in large schools near the surface and are caught in large numbers. Gill nets with larger mesh sizes have caught larger species, such as cod, but under special situations and with nets set at various depths. These nets came to the fisheries in the 1870s, the nets of Lane's time being set on the surface with wooden floats on their surface edges and weights on their bottom edges.

Lane's depiction of gill netting in Gloucester Harbor in the foreground of Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38) could be for either mackerel or herring. A yawl boat (with sail) and a wherry are working with two separate nets which will probably be connected when the wherry has completed setting the one at left. The second net was probably set after the size and direction of the school was determined.

Gill netting in Ipswich Bay was done on a larger scale, using larger nets and larger boats. It was usual practice to leave the nets set overnight, hauling them at midnight and again in the morning. Night haulings involved the use of torches, whose light was a strong attraction to the fish and could significantly improve the catch. Ipswich Bay was lit up over much of its expanse by these lights on a busy summer night.

– Erik Ronnberg

Related tables: Fishing »
illustration
Gill nets deployed
1883
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

Also filed under: Fishing »

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illustration
The gill net cod fishery
H. W. Elliott and Capt. Joseph W. Collins
1887
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)

See pl. 45.

Underrunning cod gill-nets in Ipswich Bay, Mass. 

Also filed under: Fishing »

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Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities: Lobstering

Prior to 1840, the lobster fishery had but a minor role in the American fishing industry. The market was limited by the difficulties of transporting live lobsters over long distances, which kept the demand local. As transportation (by rail), improved, the market broadened and demand increased, leading to more fishing and reduction of lobsters, both in size and in numbers.

In Lane's later years, the fishery was growing, but significant decreases of lobsters were not yet considered serious. Decrease  in numbers of very large lobsters (weighing ten pounds or more) was noted, but clamors for regulations on sizes and numbers of lobsters caught were not heard until the 1870s.

Lobster traps in the nineteenth century were mostly of the "round top" design—built of wooden laths with funnel-shaped entries of netting at both ends. The tops were hinged "lids" providing access to the catch; stones were fitted as weights to the flat bottom.

The pots could be set individually or in "strings" with marker buoys at both ends of the string. Individual pots were set on rocky bottom where a string of pots could become fouled and lost. Strings of pots were best for a smooth bottom when lobsters were moving inshore in large numbers. When lobsters were scarce on smooth bottoms, individual pots were set, being easier to move to other places.

Once caught, lobsters were kept in floating boxes (called "cars") with open seams and bored holes to allow water to circulate. A lobster car with a "killick" (stone anchor) is depicted by Lane in the foreground of Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240)

– Erik Ronnberg

Reference:

G. Brown Goode, "Fisheries and Fishery Industries", Section V, Vol. 2, 658–74.

illustration
Dory fishermen hauling lobster pots off Cape Ann
T. W. Smillie
1883
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

See pl. 247.

This photo was most likely taken in Ipswich Bay on the north shore of Cape Ann (visible in right background). During the warm months, lobsters migrate to the shore where they feed and shed their outgrown shells while hiding among the rocks. Dories are the lobstermen's choice for working traps out in the bay or close to shore in rocky shallows. Pots can be set individually or in strings, the latter on smoother ground where the line is less likely to be fouled.

– Erik Ronnberg

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photo (historical)
Folly Cove lobster quarters
c.1890
Photograph
NOOA

Also filed under: Folly Cove »

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artwork
Lobster car (detail of Gloucester Inner Harbor)
Fitz Henry Lane
1850
Gloucester Inner Harbor
Oil on canvas
24 x 36 in. (61 x 91.4 cm)

The lobster car was a floating holding tank for lobsters that were kept in the harbor prior to local sale or transportation to fish markets in Boston. 

Image: The Mariners' Museum
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illustration
Lobster Cove at Lanesville, Cape Ann
T. W. Smillie
1883
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

See pl. 249.

Lobster Cove (Lane's Cove) was a thriving port for the Ipswich Bay shore fisheries from colonial times through the 19th century. Even as late as the mid-20th century, the waterfront was lined with sheds for fishing gear - now all gone. In addition to lobstering, gill-netting, trap fishing, hand-lining, and seining (small-scale) were carried on at various times in pursuit of numerous fish and shellfish types.

– Erik Ronnberg

Also filed under: Folly Cove »

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photo (historical)
"Lobster Lane – Magnolia" (detail of lobster traps"
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
Glass plate negative
4 x 5 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
#10205/418

Also filed under: Folly Cove »

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photo (historical)
Lobsterman and dory at Lane's Cove
Photographer unknown
c. 1900
Glass plate negative
Collection of Erik Ronnberg
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photo (historical)
Lobsterman at Salt Island
Martha H. Harvey
1890s
Glass plate negative
4 x 5 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
#10028/031
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photo (historical)
Weighing lobsters at Salt Island
Martha H. Harvey
1890s
Glass plate negative
4 x 5 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
#10021/023

This photo depicting traditional lobster fishing shows two lobster cars to left of dory and two afloat.

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The timber trade played an important role in New England’s economy from Colonial days through the mid-19th century, supplying the vast quantities of lumber which a rapidly growing nation demanded.  While Cape Ann’s woodlands were depleted early on, timber continued to be harvested from northern New England and the Maritime Provinces right up to the Civil War.

With a deep and safe harbor, Gloucester often served as a layover spot where vessels bound from Maine to Boston, New York or Baltimore and heavily laden with lumber could ride out bad weather.  Because of this, Fitz Henry Lane’s paintings of Gloucester Harbor often show a schooner or a brig, loads of lumber clearly visible on their decks, sheltering along the Western Shore.

References:

Honey, Mark E., "King Pine, Queen Spruce, Jack Tar," An Intimate History of Lumbering on the Union River, Volumes 1-5. This source, in its entirety, lays down the foundation of Downeast Maine's unique culture which was built upon pine lumber and timber, the cod fisheries, coasting, shipbuilding, and the interrelationships of family and community.

Lumber schooner in Gloucester Harbor
1852
Photograph
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Bangor Log Raft
Advertisement for The Bangor News Company, est. January 31, 1881
Castine Historical Society Collections (2008.02)

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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PDF
view ]
publication
Maine Register for 1855 (Lumber)
George Adams, publisher
"The Maine Register for the Year 1855, embracing State and County Officers, and an abstract of the law and resolves; together with a complete business directory of the state, and a variety of useful information."

Details about Maine's lumber trade in 1855, see pp. 250–52

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Provenance (Information known to date; research ongoing.)

Exhibition History

1966 DeCordova Museum: DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, Fitz Hugh Lane: The First Major Exhibition, no. 33.
1969 Cummer Gallery: Cummer Gallery of Art, Jacksonville, Florida, American Paintings of Ports and Harbors.
1975 Chrysler Museum: Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia, Art of the Sea.
2010 Vero Beach Museum of Art: Vero Beach Museum of Art, Vero Beach, Florida, Ships and Shorelines: William Bradford and Nineteenth-Century American Marine Painting.

Published References

: .
Wilmerding 1966a: Fitz Hugh Lane: The First Major Exhibition, no. 33, as View of the Inner Harbor, Gloucester. ⇒ includes text
Dodge, Joseph Jeffers 1969: American Paintings and Harbors, 1774–1968.
Wilmerding 1988a: Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, fig. 9, ill. in b/w, p. 39.
International Marine 2001: The Dictionary of Nautical Literacy.
Ronnberg 2004: "Views of Fort Point: Fitz Hugh Lane's Images of a Gloucester Landmark," fig. 6. ⇒ includes text
Craig 2006a: Fitz H. Lane: An Artist's Voyage through Nineteenth-Century America, pl. 5, text, p. 28, pp. 83-84.
Craig 2006b: "Fitz Henry Lane: An Affinity for the Sea," ill., p. 29, text, pp. 28, 29, as Gloucester Inner Harbor, Massachusetts.
Citation: "Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=240 (accessed October 22, 2017).
Record last updated March 28, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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