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Catalog entry

inv. 277
Castine Harbor and Town
1851
Graphite and watercolor panorama on two joined sheets of moderately thick, cream wove paper
10 1/4 x 31 1/4 in. (26 x 79.4 cm)
18 3/4 x 39 1/4 in. (47.6 x 99.7 cm.)
Inscribed upper left (in brown ink): Castine harbor and town from American battery of 1779 at Hainey's Point, a short way northerly of Henry's Point of later time. / Fitz Henry Lane of Gloucester, Mass., made this sketch for Noah Brooks in August 1851, and on its acceptance an oil painting. / In his will of date Nov. 30, 1900 Mr. Brooks bequeathed the painting to the town of Castine for the public library.

Commentary

There are very few known examples of Lane working in watercolor. Other than his very early work, Burning of the Packet Ship "Boston", 1830 (inv. 82), in which watercolor was the finished medium, he seemed to use watercolor as a way of adding detail that graphite could not convey (see, for example, Gloucester from the Outer Harbor, 1852 (inv. 72)). According to the inscription on this watercolor—it was added in the early twentieth century—Lane used the medium to communicate with purchaser Noah Brooks about the composition of the commission.

Noah Brooks was born in Castine in 1830. At age eighteen, he left Castine for Boston, and eventually became a successful newspaper reporter, journalist, and author. Periodically he returned to Castine, as he did in the summer of 1848—a visit he wrote about in a diary now located at the Castine Historical Society.  It is possible that he met Lane in Castine in the summer of 1851 when Lane was visiting the Stevenses, or that they were introduced in Boston or elsewhere through mutual acquaintances. In any case, the inscription indicates that Brooks commissioned a painting for which Lane made this preparatory watercolor. Later photographs show the finished oil painting hanging in Brooks's home.

Most of Lane’s images of Castine depict the town from an island in the harbor, or from an elevated perspective above the town to the north. The two Brooks works adopt a viewpoint southeast of town, and depict an expansive view of the harbor, the lighthouse on Dice Head, and Penobscot Bay toward the Camden Mountains. (One other drawing Castine from Heights East of Negro Island, 1855 (inv. 168) shows a perspective similar to the composition of these works). In the watercolor, the foreground contains the shore, detailed foliage, and a leafless tree. In the final painting Lane eliminated these elements, placing the viewer at the edge of the water, and making the water of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay the subject of the composition.

– Melissa Geisler Trafton

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Related Work in the Catalog

Supplementary Images

Detail
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Detail
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Detail
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Detail
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Detail
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Detail
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Proposed viewpoint of Lane when creating the picture. Viewpoint plottings by Erik Ronnberg using the... [more] 1879 U.S. Coast Survey chart of Camden and Rockport, Maine.
 

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Types of Objects:   Study »
Subject Types:   Harbor Scene »   //   Townscape »
Vessel Types:   Brig »   //   Schooner »
Maine Buildings & Locales:   Camden Mountains »   //   Castine »   //   Dice (Dyce) Head Lighthouse »
Activities of People:   Shipbuilding »
Objects:   Beacon / Monument / Spindle »
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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Hosmer Ledge Monument, off Hospital Island
George E. Collins
Stereograph card
Castine Historical Society Collections (1996.1)
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Castine is a town located on a sheltered harbor in Maine's Penobscot Bay. According to the Maine Register of 1850 it had a population of 1260.

Castine, as the seat of customs, registered 31.4% of Maine's sea fisheries tonnage in 1850. Castine's merchants serviced the needs of Penobscot Bay's fishermen, fitting up supplies and salt, and offering both employment and opportunities for investment in the cod fisheries. Beginning about 1824 Castine fitted out at least 300 vessels with more than two thousand men in a year. (1) Castine's shipyards built both fishing schooners and large ships, ships which carried cotton from New Orleans to the cotton mills of Great Britain, and returned with salt from Liverpool and Cadiz. Castine was at the height of its economic power in the 1850s, the commercial hub for the broader community of Penobscot Bay. (2)

In Gloucester, some aspects of the fishing industry were changing. The fishing vessels of Penobscot Bay tended to be smaller in size, more democratic in ownership, and more intimate with regard to crew, who were more often than not members of an extended family or from the same communities.

The steamboat lines began connecting Maine to Boston in 1824. In 1845 Captain Sanford's Independent Line tried his "Penobscot I" on the route that would become standard, an overnight route to Boston. He also initiated in 1846 "the Blue Hill line" which used the 130-foot "T. F.Secor" to connect with the Boston boat at Belfast and run up to Bangor and as far east as Blue Hill with landings both ways. During the 1850s steamers became larger and more luxurious, with competing steamer lines, and steamships also used in the lumber trade. (3)

References:

1.W.H. Bunting, A Day's Work: A Sampler of Historic Maine Photographs (Portland, ME: Maine Preservation), p.56.

2. Roger F. Duncan, "Coastal Maine, A Maritime History," WW Norton & Company, New York, 1992. Mark Honey, "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.

3. Allie Ryan, Penobscot Bay Mount Desert, and Eastport Steamboat Album (Camden, ME: Downeast Magazine, 1972).

Honey, Mark E, "Abigail & Sarah Hawes of Castine," Navigators & Educators, with Lois Moore Cyr, 1996.

Honey, Mark E, "Before the Mast," Volume IV, articles 7-9, Holbrook Island and the Holbrook family, and in particular, Robert Applebee, "Vessels of the Penobscot Customs District," Stephan Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, which source also has the diaries of Capt. Jonathan Holbrook and the genealogy of the Holbrook family in the Priscilla Jones collection. The "Before the Mass" series can be found in the collections of the Castine Historical Society and the Wilson Museum, both in Castine.

McLane, Charles B, and McLane, Carol Evarts, "Islands of the Mid-Maine Coast," Penobscot Bay, Volume 1, Revised Edition, Tilbury House, Publishers, Gardiner, Maine, and the Island Institute, Rockland, Maine.

McLane, Charles B, and McLane, Carol Evarts, "Islands of the Mid-Maine Coast," Mount Desert to Machias Bay, Volume 2, The Kennebec River club Press, Incorporated, Falmouth, 1989. 

O'Leary, Wayne M, "Maine Sea Fisheries," The Rise and Fall of a Native Industry, 1830-1890, Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1996, pages 350-351, for the percentage of sea fisheries in 1850.

Related tables: Adams, Samuel, Jr. »  //  Salt »  //  Steamers »
manuscript
1852 Journal of John M. Stevens
John M. Stevens
September 1–November 18, 1852
Personal journal
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine
Box 2, F1 (A00772)

John Stevens was the younger brother of Joseph Stevens, and acquainted with Lane, spending time with him in Gloucester and at the family home in Castine. His journal, quoted below, includes reference to hunting plover and teal, school, sailing, local events. Mentions Castine mill, lighthouse, and block house.

"Friday [September] 17th: Cloudy all day. Wind N. blowing quite hard. A British Rig loaded with salt from Liverpool came into port last night. She run way up by the Monument and got aground. They kedged her off this P.M. and came down. She came in with one of these old English charts as her guide. They have the town set down on the Brooksville side, two miles + three quarters from the lighthouse."

"Wednesday [September] 22. . .Went down to the Indians Camp on the Back Cove. There were five camps of them." 

Visits Gloucester from Castine:

"Wednesday [October] 27th. . .Left for Gloucester [from Boston] at 5 o'clock this P.M. arrived there safe + sound at 6 1/2 o'clock; went right down to the store and saw Joe. We then went up to his house and got supper.

"Thursday [October] 28th. At. Gloucester. Pleasant day. Went down to the "Cut" a gunning this morning before breakfast but saw no birds. Went out in the harbor this forenoon alone, had a fine sail but couldn't get a chance at any birds. Went out again this P.M. got down to East Point Light and the wind died all away, so I had to scull home."

"Friday 29th. Very pleasant day, went out in the harbor this morning with Joe. Took a walk this A.M. with "Lina", called on Mr. Lane + Doct. Hildreth. Joe + I went out in the harbor this P.M. I fired at some birds several times, but didn't get any. . . ."

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publication
1855 Boston Courier 9.1855
Castine Correspondent
September 1855
Newspaper

"Mr. F. H. Lane of Gloucester . . .visits here nearly every summer"

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map
1860 map of Castine (detail)
1860
Castine Historical Society
Image: Casting Historical Society
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PDF
view ]
manuscript
A Diary of a Visit to Castine
Noah Brooks
1848
Personal diary
Castine Historical Society

From July 25-August 16,1848, Castine native Noah Brooks made a return visit to his hometown. He was eighteen at the time, and had been living in Boston. In his diary, there is no mention of Lane, but he recounts Castine gossip, and writes about visits with the Stevens and Witherle familes, accounts of swimming in Back Cove, and reading Wuthering Heights. The daily arrival of "the boat" (the "T.F.S." or the "Secor")—the way it was anticipated and observed by Castine residents—is notable.

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Castine Harbor
George E. Collins
Stereograph card
Castine Historical Society Collections (1996.1)

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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Castine Interior
George E. Collins
Stereograph card
Castine Historical Society Collections (1998.34)

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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chart
Chart showing route of Lane's 1852 cruise from Castine to Bar Harbor
Erik Ronnberg/US Coast Survey chart
c. 1875
Chart
U.S. Coast Survey

Chart with key showing the route of an excursion on the sloop "Superior" out of Castine made by William H. Witherle, Lane, Stevens and friends during which Lane made several sketches of Mt. Desert scenery. The trip was chronicled by Witherle in his diary of 1852.

Image: Erik Ronnberg
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PDF
view ]
manuscript
Complete Subscription List and Mailing for "Castine, From Hospital Island," 1855
1855
Handwritten list
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00787-1a-1d)
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Dice (Dyce) Head Lighthouse
Stereograph card
Castine Historical Society Collections (1996.1)
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photo (historical)
Dice Head (Castine)
Stebbins, N.L.
1981
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, Mass.

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PDF
view ]
letter
Dorothy Little Stevens to F. H. Lane, 2.9.1853
Dorothy Little Stevens
1853
Letter
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.
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Hosmer Ledge Monument, off Hospital Island
George E. Collins
Stereograph card
Castine Historical Society Collections (1996.1)
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PDF
view ]
letter
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr. to Samuel Mansfield, 10.17.1903
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
1903
Four-page letter
Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

"[The painting] is offered you for $150 on as long time and in as many notes at 3% interest as you choose. . . I believe this to be the only important painting of Gloucester Harbor that Lane never duplicated. . . .Returning from a Gloucester visit while I was still under the roof there, father brought a print of Lane's first Gloucester view, bought of the artist at his Tremont Temple studio in Boston. An extra dollar had been paid for coloring it. For a few years it was a home delight.. . .I had been a few years in Gloucester when Lane began to come, for part of the time a while, if I remember rightly. He painted in his brother's house, "up in town" it then was. I recall visits there to see his pictures. But it was long after, that I could claim more than a simple speaking acquaintance. The Stacys were very kind, aiding him as time went on in selling paintings by lot. I invested in a view of Gloucester from Rocky Neck, thus put on sale at the old reading room, irreverently called "Wisdom Hall." And they bought direct of him to some extent, before other residents. Lane was much my senior and yet we gradually drifted together. Our earliest approach to friendship was after his abode began in Elm Street as an occupant of the old Prentiss [sic-corrected Stacy] house, moved there from Pleasant. I was a frequenter of this studio to a considerable extent, yet little compared with my intimacy at the next and last in the new stone house on the hill. Lane's art books and magazines were always at my service and a great inspiration and delight—notably the London Art Journal to which he long subscribed. I have here a little story to tell you. A Castine man came to Gloucester on business that brought the passing of $60 through my hands at 2 1/2 % commission. I bought with the $1.50 thus earned Ruskin's Modern Painters, my first purchase of an artbook. I dare say no other copy was then owned in town. . . .Lane was frequently in Boston, his sales agent being Balch who was at the head of his guild in those days. So in my Boston visits – I was led to Balch's fairly often – the resort of many artists and the depot of their works. Thus through, Lane in various ways I was long in touch with the art world, not only of New England but of New York and Philadelphia. I knew of most picture exhibits and saw many. The coming of the Dusseldorf Gallery to Boston was an event to fix itself in one's memory for all time. What talks of all these things Lane and I had in his studio and by my fireside!

For a long series of years I knew nearly every painting he made. I was with him on several trips to the Maine coast where he did much sketching, and sometimes was was [sic] his chooser of spots and bearer of materials when he sketched in the home neighborhood. Thus there are many paintings whose growth I saw both from brush and pencil. For his physical infirmity prevented his becoming an out-door colorist."

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letter
Joseph L. Stevens, Sr. to Fitz H. Lane, 1.29.1851
Joseph L. Stevens, Sr.
1851
Single sheet, writing both sides
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

"My dear Sir,

I hope you will not attribute the delay in acknowledging the receipt of your splendid, and most unexpected Gift to a want of a due appreciation of it. Many reasons have consipired to prevent my doing it – unnecessary to repeat. But I can no longer defer the expressions of our warmest acknowledgements for a present in itself so valuable, and endeared to us by many associations, as a representation of scenery often admired, and which I have many times wished could be transferred to canvas, although vary far from thinking that wish would ever be gratified. You must premit me, however, to say that the Painting, valuable as it is as a work of Art, and pleased as I may be as the possessor of it, is less appreciated by us than the delicate and very generous manner in which its acceptance has been tendered. My love of Art, to which you do politely allude, I am sensible has only wanted opportunity of indulgence to have amounted to a passion. From my earliest days I have wished for opportunities to visit places, where that desire could be gratified, and my reading has only had the effect of increasing my regrets for the want of them, and of encouraging envy for those more fortunate - I feel, too, under great obligations for the Drawing of the "Siege"(1) – I had no expectations you could have produced anything so good from so rough a copy. I shall have it framed for presentation and future reference. Several gentlemen who have called in to see the painting have expressed a desire to have a drawing from you of our town, similar to yours of Gloucester, which they much admire, and of lithographs, I have no doubts copies enough could be disposed of to remunerate you. That of Homans you are aware is feebly drawn, & still worse printed. I feel desirous myself it should be done, if it suits your wishes. There are several points of view, which you did not see, & to which it will be my pleasure, next summer, to carry you. I know many of our citizens would be gratified to have this done by you. Our house we shall expect to be your home, and if, as you suggested in Gloucester, you should come in your Boat, this place could be made the rendezvous, from whence you could start to any place that convenience & inclination might dictate – . . . Permit me again to tender acknowledgements for the picture. It hangs in our parlor, & I never come in to the house, without looking in to see it, & can never cease to feel grateful for your generosity and politeness. "

 (1) Joseph Stevens was very interested the Revolutionary war event known as the "Penobscot Expedition" or the "Siege of Castine" by the British on July 25, 1779. In 1852 he handwrote an account of it and many articles are in the family's scrapbook at the Wilson Museum in Castine.

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PDF
view ]
publication
Maine Register (Fisheries)
George Adams, publisher
1855

Details about Maine's fishing industry, see pp. 256–57.

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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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PDF
view ]
publication
Maine Register for 1855 (Shipbuilding)
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". Published by George Adams. 1855

Details about Maine's shipbuilding industry, see pp. 252–57.

Also filed under: Shipbuilding / Repair »

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map
Street map of Castine, Maine
Sponsored by the Castine Historical Society and the Castine Merchants' Association.
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artwork
"T.F. Secor" Passenger Steamship
Unknown
c. 1855
Oil on canvas
Maine Maritime Museum
Image: Maine Maritime Museum
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PDF
view ]
publication
The Maine Register for the Year 1855 (Steamer Schedule)
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."

Steamer schedules for 1855, including the schedule for the steamer, "T. F. Secor" which served Castine, see pp. 234–35.

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map
Topographical Map of Hancock County Maine
H. F. Walling
1860
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine.
Library of Congress Catalog Number 2011588006

1860 map, including census of towns. 

Image: Library of Congress

Also filed under: Maps »   //  Mount Desert Island & Rock »   //  Penobscot Bay »

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map
Topographical Map of Hancock County Maine (Castine Business Directory detail)
H. F. Walling
Wilson Museum
1860
Image: Wilson Museum

Also filed under: Maps »

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map
Topographical Map of Hancock County Maine (Deer Isle Business Directory detail)
H. F. Walling
1860
Library of Congress catalog number 2011588006
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine also has a copy of the map
Image: Library of Congress

Also filed under: Maps »

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map
Topographical Map of Hancock County Maine (Isle Au Haut detail)
H. F. Walling
1860
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine also has a copy of the map
Library of Congress catalog number 2011588006
Image: Library of Congress

Also filed under: Maps »

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artwork
View of Castine, Maine from Hospital Island
S. V. Homan del. (after a drawing by Homan)
1843
Bouvé and Sharp, Lithographers, 221 Washington Street, Boston
Boston Athenaeum

Looking at Castine from Hospital Island. Joseph Stevens, Sr. mentions this print in the letter he wrote to Lane encouraging Lane to make a lithograph of Castine.

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PDF
view ]
manuscript
William Witherle Diary August 16–21, 1852
William Witherle
1852
Personal diary
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00060-1a-1h)

Description of an excursion taken by Joseph Stevens, Jr., Lane, Witherle, Samuel Adams, Jr., and George Tilden around the islands of Maine near Mt. Desert. The group hired the Sloop "Superior" which was owned by Pilot Getchell. In his diary, Witherle mentions multiple times that "Lane took a sketch" especially when the water was calm. Lane often stayed on board the boat, while the others went ashore.

 

Excerpts of the diary include:

August 16: "Lane has a knack for frying fish."

August 17: "leaving Lane to take a sketch, we took a climb."

August 19: "went to ascend one of the highest mountains. 3/4 the way up we had to wait – once in a while for Lane who with his crutches could not keep up with us – but got along faster than we thought possible . . .Lane got up about an hour after the rest of us."


The entire text is transcribed in an account published by the Wilson Museum.

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photo (historical)
Witherle's store
c. 1850
Photograph
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine
Accession number a02600a
Image: Wilson Museum
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At 88 Court Street, Castine, was the church built between 1790–96 as First Parish Church and greatly remodeled in 1831. It served as the First Parish (Congregational) Church from 1796–1866, after which it became a Unitarian parish. It is noteworthy for its distinctive belfry and spire. Part of the 1831 reconstruction was this new tower, as well as the sending back of the original Revere bell to Boston in exchange for a larger one. Dr. Joseph Stevens was listed as a pew holder in this church in 1832. (2) During the 1840s the congregation at this church dwindled, but the church was still used for town events such as the 4th of July during the Civil War. (2)

References:

1. Lynn Hudson Parsons, Missions and Meeting Houses, Chapels and Churches: Fuor Centuries of Faith in Castine, Maine (Castine, ME: Historical Society, 2012), 60.

2. Ibid., 75.

map
Street map of Castine, Maine
Sponsored by the Castine Historical Society and the Castine Merchants' Association.
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photo (historical)
Unitarian Church / The Old Meeting House, Castine
A. H. Folsom
Photograph
Castine Historical Society Collections

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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In general, brigs were small to medium size merchant vessels, generally ranging between 80 and 120 feet in hull length. Their hull forms ranged from sharp-ended (for greater speed; see Brig "Antelope" in Boston Harbor, 1863 (inv. 43)) to “kettle-bottom” (a contemporary term for full-ended with wide hull bottom for maximum cargo capacity; see Ships in Ice off Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 44) and Boston Harbor, c.1850 (inv. 48)). The former were widely used in the packet trade (coastwise or transoceanic); the latter were bulk-carriers designed for long passages on regular routes. (1) This rig was favored by Gloucester merchants in the Surinam Trade, which led to vessels so-rigged being referred to by recent historians as Surinam brigs (see Brig "Cadet" in Gloucester Harbor, late 1840s (inv. 13) and Gloucester Harbor, c.1852 (inv. 563)). (2)

Brigs are two-masted square-rigged vessels which fall into three categories:

Full-rigged brigs—simply called brigs—were fully square-rigged on both masts. A sub-type—called a snow—had a trysail mast on the aft side of the lower main mast, on which the spanker, with its gaff and boom, was set. (3)

Brigantines were square-rigged on the fore mast, but set only square topsails on the main mast. This type was rarely seen in America in Lane’s time, but was still used for some naval vessels and European merchant vessels. The term is commonly misapplied to hermaphrodite brigs. (4)

Hermaphrodite brigs—more commonly called half-brigs by American seamen and merchants—were square-rigged only on the fore mast, the main mast being rigged with a spanker and a gaff-topsail. Staysails were often set between the fore and main masts, there being no gaff-rigged sail on the fore mast.

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, The National Watercraft Collection (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1960), 64–68.

2. Alfred Mansfield Brooks, Gloucester Recollected: A Familiar History (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1974), 62–74. A candid and witty view of Gloucester’s Surinam Trade, which employed brigs and barks.

3. R[ichard] H[enry] Dana, Jr., The Seaman's Friend (Boston: Thomas Groom & Co., 1841. 13th ed., 1873), 100 and Plate 4 and captions; and M.H. Parry, et al., Aak to Zumbra: A Dictionary of the World's Watercraft (Newport News, VA: The Mariners’ Museum, 2000), 95.

4. Parry, 95, see Definition 1.

artwork
Brig "Cadet" in Gloucester Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
late 1840s
Oil on canvas
17 1/4 x 25 3/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Isabel Babson Lane, 1946 (1147.a)
Photo: Cape Ann Museum

Detail of brig "Cadet."

Also filed under: "Cadet" (Brig) »

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chart
Chart showing the voyage of the brig Cadet
c.1980
Painting on board
72 x 48 in.
Collection of Erik Ronnberg

Chart showing the voyage of the brig Cadet to Surinam and return, March 10–June 11, 1840.

Image: Erik Ronnberg

Also filed under: "Cadet" (Brig) »   //  Surinam Trade »

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illustration
Full-rigged Brig
Engraving in R. H. Dana, The Seaman's Friend, 13th ed. (Thomas Groom & Co. Publisher, 1873)

Detail of a full-rigged brig is square-rigged at both her masts. 

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artwork
Silhouettes of vessel types
Charles G. Davis
Book illustrations from "Shipping and Craft in Silhouette" by Charles G. Davis, Salem, Mass. Marine Research Society, 1929. Selected images
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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 (inv. 401), 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
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Lumber schooner in Gloucester Harbor
1852
Photograph

Also filed under: Lumber Industry »

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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.

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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.

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

Also filed under: Lobstering »

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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

Also filed under: Castine »   //  Lumber Industry »

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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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The term "ship," as used by nineteenth-century merchants and seamen, referred to a large three-masted sailing vessel which was square-rigged on all three masts. (1) In that same period, sailing warships of the largest classes were also called ships, or more formally, ships of the line, their size qualifying them to engage the enemy in a line of battle. (2) In the second half of the nineteenth century, as sailing vessels were replaced by engine-powered vessels, the term ship was applied to any large vessel, regardless of propulsion or use. (3)

Ships were often further defined by their specialized uses or modifications, clipper ships and packet ships being the most noted examples. Built for speed, clipper ships were employed in carrying high-value or perishable goods over long distances. (4) Lane painted formal portraits of clipper ships for their owners, as well as generic examples for his port paintings. (5)

Packet ships were designed for carrying capacity which required some sacrifice in speed while still being able to make scheduled passages within a reasonable time frame between regular destinations. In the packet trade with European ports, mail, passengers, and bulk cargos such as cotton, textiles, and farm produce made the eastward passages. Mail, passengers (usually in much larger numbers), and finished wares were the usual cargos for return trips. (6) Lane depicted these vessels in portraits for their owners, and in his port scenes of Boston and New York Harbors.

Ships in specific trades were often identified by their cargos: salt ships which brought salt to Gloucester for curing dried fish; tea clippers in the China Trade; coffee ships in the West Indies and South American trades, and  cotton ships bringing cotton to mills in New England or to European ports.  Some trades were identified by the special destination of a ship’s regular voyages; hence Gloucester vessels in the trade with Surinam were identified as Surinam ships (or barks, or brigs, depending on their rigs). In Lane’s Gloucester Harbor scenes, there are likely (though not identifiable) examples of Surinam ships, but only the ship "California" in his depiction of the Burnham marine railway in Gloucester (see Three Master on the Gloucester Railways, 1857 (inv. 29)) is so identified. (7)

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. R[ichard)] H[enry] Dana, Jr., The Seaman’s Friend, 13th ed. (Boston: Thomas Groom & Co., 1873), p. 121 and Plate IV with captions.

2. A Naval Encyclopaedia (Philadelphia: L. R. Hamersly & Co., 1884), 739, 741.

3.  M.H. Parry, et al., Aak to Zumbra: A Dictionary of the World’s Watercraft (Newport News, VA: The Mariners’ Museum, 2000), 536.

4. Howard I. Chapelle, The History of American Sailing Ships (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1935), 281–87.

5. Ibid.

6. Howard I. Chapelle, The National Watercraft Collection (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1960), 26–30.

7. Alfred Mansfield Brooks, Gloucester Recollected: A Familiar History (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1974), 67–69.

Golden State
1884
Photograph
From American Clipper Ships 1833–1858, by Octavius T. Howe and Frederick C. Matthews, vol. 1 (Salem, MA: Marine Research Society, 1926).

Photo caption reads: "'Golden State' 1363 tons, built at New York, in 1852. From a photograph showing her in dock at Quebec in 1884."

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photo (current)
"Friendship of Salem"
Built in 1998

A replica of an early nineteenth-century full-rigged ship.

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artwork
Homeward Bound
c.1865
Hand-colored lithograph
Published by N. Currier, New York
Library of Congress (2002695891)
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illustration
Ship
1885
Engraving from Merchant Vessels of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)

Engraving of ship.

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artwork
Packet "Nonantum" Riding out a Gale
Samuel Walters
1842
Oil on canvas
24 x 35 in.
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Walters' painting depicts the "Nonantum" homeward bound for Boston from Liverpool in 1842. The paddle-steamer is one of the four Clyde-built Britannia-class vessels, of which one is visible crossing in the opposite direction.

Image: Peabody Essex Museum
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illustration
Ship
Engraving in R. H. Dana, The Seaman's Friend, 13th ed. (Thomas Groom & Co. Publisher, 1873)

A ship is square-rigged throughout; that is, she has tops, and carries square sails on all three of her masts.

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artwork
Silhouettes of vessel types
Charles G. Davis
Book illustrations from "Shipping and Craft in Silhouette" by Charles G. Davis, Salem, Mass. Marine Research Society, 1929. Selected images
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A "spindle" is a fixed marker to indicate a hazard to navigation (such as a rock which couldn't be seen at high tide). It serves the same purpose as a channel buoy, a "light beacon," or a “monument,” to warn vessels away from dangerous places or stretches of coastline. Spindles are usually iron rods with some sort of geometric object (round, flat, or triangular) on top, brightly painted (usually red) for visibility. Monuments, like the ones you see in Lane’s depictions of Half Way Rock or Norman’s Woe Reef, were made of stone and look like stumpy obelisks—or grave monuments. They were also essential as reference points for the early coastal surveys in their efforts to make more accurate charts.

 In Castine, the notable square monument in the center of the harbor marked Hosmer's Ledge.

Related tables: Harbor Rocks »  //  Norman's Woe »
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
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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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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
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Hosmer Ledge Monument, off Hospital Island
George E. Collins
Stereograph card
Castine Historical Society Collections (1996.1)
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Point Allerton Monument
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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The Dice Head Lighthouse is situated on the southernmost point of the Castine Peninsula at the mouth of the Penobscot River. In May of 1828, Congress gave $5,000 for the creation of a lighthouse at Dice Head in response to the growing shipbuilding and lumber industries on the Penobscot River; it was first lit on November 5, 1828. In the years after the 42-foot conical rubblestone Dice Head Lighthouse was built, it was plagued by physical damage and concerns over its effectiveness in guiding vessels. An inspection report from I.W.P Lewis in 1843 described the lighthouse as "out of repair altogether" and he echoed the sentiment of Henry D. Hunter, of the U.S. revenue cutter, "Jackson," that the Dice Head Lighthouse is helpful in navigating the Bay of Castine, but poorly placed to guide navigators in the Penobscot Bay and at the mouth of the Penobscot River.

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.

Dice (Dyce) Head Lighthouse
Stereograph card
Castine Historical Society Collections (1996.1)

Also filed under: Castine »   //  Historic Photographs »

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photo (historical)
Dice Head (Castine)
Stebbins, N.L.
1981
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, Mass.

Also filed under: Castine »

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photo (historical)
Dice Head Light, Maine
c.1859
Photograph
National Archives
Photography courtesy of : http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net

As shipbuilding and lumber traffic on the Penobscot River flourished, Congress appropriated $5,000 for a light station in May 1828. The site chosen was Dice Head, the southernmost point of the Castine peninsula, almost two miles east of the northern end of Islesboro.

The spot is on land once owned by a family named Dyce. Although both spellings have often been used, the "Dice" spelling has predominated.

A conical rubblestone tower—42 feet tall from its base to the focal plane—and an adjacent one-and-one-half-story rubblestone dwelling were soon built, and a newspaper notice on November 5, 1828, announced that the light would go into service that evening.

An octagonal wrought-iron lantern held 10 lamps and 14-inch reflectors, showing a fixed white light 129 feet above mean high water.

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photo (historical)
Dice's Head Light, Castine, Maine
1893
Photomechanical collotype
The Albertype Company, New York
Wm. Geo. Sargent, Castine, Me.
Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-09382

Print shows: Lighthouse and keeper's residence, other buildings, cove with distant shore in background.

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map
Street map of Castine, Maine
Sponsored by the Castine Historical Society and the Castine Merchants' Association.
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Lane's watercolor of Castine Castine Harbor and Town, 1851 (inv. 277) notes that it was painted for Noah Brooks, a newspaper reporter, journalist, and author who counted Abraham Lincoln among his friends. Brooks owned the painting made after that watercolor, and donated it to the Castine public library upon his death in 1903. His will stated: "I also give and bequeath to said town for the public library of said town the portrait of the Baron de Castine and Lane's painting of Castine."

Noah Brooks was born in Castine in 1830. At age eighteen, he left Castine for Boston, but returned to town in the summer of 1848, a visit he wrote about in a diary now located at the Castine Historical Society. From Boston, he moved to Illinois, California, and Washington, D.C.. He wrote an article about Castine in 1882 for the Century Magazine. In the Castine Historical Society, there is a biographical account of Brooks written by Gardiner E. Gregory, from which much of this information is drawn.

PDF
view ]
manuscript
A Diary of a Visit to Castine
Noah Brooks
1848
Personal diary
Castine Historical Society

From July 25-August 16,1848, Castine native Noah Brooks made a return visit to his hometown. He was eighteen at the time, and had been living in Boston. In his diary, there is no mention of Lane, but he recounts Castine gossip, and writes about visits with the Stevens and Witherle familes, accounts of swimming in Back Cove, and reading Wuthering Heights. The daily arrival of "the boat" (the "T.F.S." or the "Secor")—the way it was anticipated and observed by Castine residents—is notable.

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publication
An Old Town with a History
Noah Brooks
September, 1882
Century Magazine
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photo (historical)
Noah Brooks in his Library
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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photo (historical)
Noah Brooks' Library
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine

This photo shows Lane's painting Castine Harbor and Town hanging on the wall of Brooks's library in his home in Castine.

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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Provenance (Information known to date; research ongoing.)

Exhibition History

1962 Museum of Fine Arts: Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, M. & M. Karolik Collection of American Watercolors & Drawings, 1800–1875.
1966 DeCordova Museum: DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, Fitz Hugh Lane: The First Major Exhibition, no. 59.
1974 Farnsworth Art Museum: John Wilmerding, Rockland, Maine, Fitz Hugh Lane 1804-1805, no. 8, lent by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
1979 Museum of Fine Arts: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, American Drawings and Watercolors from West to Wyeth.
1988–89 Museum of Fine Arts: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.
1993b Museum of Fine Arts: Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, Awash in Color: Homer, Sargent, and the Great American Watercolor.

Published References

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1962: M. & M. Karolik Collection of American Watercolors & Drawings, 1800–1875, no. 489, fig. 108.
Wilmerding 1966a: Fitz Hugh Lane: The First Major Exhibition, no. 59. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 1966b: "Fitz Hugh Lane's Paintings Down East," ill., p. 25. ⇒ includes text
Farnsworth 1974: Fitz Hugh Lane 1804-1865, no. 8.
Reed 1993: Awash in Color: Homer, Sargent, and the Great American Watercolor, no. 12, pp. 27–29.
Wilmerding 1994: The Artist's Mount Desert: American Painters on the Maine Coast, p. 51. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 2005: Fitz Henry Lane, ill. 44.
Citation: "Castine Harbor and Town, 1851 (inv. 277)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=277 (accessed December 7, 2019).
Record last updated March 7, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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