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ELKHORN, cruising motor launch.

"Islesboro - - 1926." [label on front pastedown.]

Personal photograph album recording a cruise off the Maine coast in the Elkhorn, Capt. Whitney B. Lowe.

Isleboro, ME: 1926 Stock Code: 126909
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Boating off the Maine coast in 1926

Highly appealing photograph album documenting the Bertolet family's 1926 summer cruise off the Maine coast in the Elkhorn, an 81 foot motor yacht built by George S. Lawley & Sons in 1906, captained at the time by Whitney B. Lowe. Of particular interest are the many identified images of some superb sail and motor yachts of the era, including the Queen Mab, Vagrant, Vanitie, Mahapa II, Thelma, Mariette, Mary Rose, Advance, Resolute, and the Eda Mina IV, many of these designed and built by the celebrated naval architect Nathanael Greene Herreshoff (1848-1938), The typed label inside the front cover lists the fellow passengers and crew members accompanying W. M. Bertolet, and includes his wife Helen, sons Frederick and Jean, alongside members of the Dives and Ferneau families, and other friends.

These crisply detailed and accomplished amateur photographs, many of which catch boats in full sail, offer a vivid snapshot of maritime adventures off the Maine coast during the 1920s. Wellington M. Bertolet (1881-1951) was a lawyer based in Reading, Pennsylvania, and City Solicitor; his father, Benneville F. Bertolet, was superintendent of the Mahanoy and Shamokin division of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. In the early years of the 20th century the Elkhorn was one of the most celebrated boats on the eastern seaboard. The Motor Boat magazine in 1907 mentioned it familiarly: "At Lawley's, South Boston, the birthplace of Elkhorn, and Glenda, and many other noted motorboats" (Vol. 4, issue 6); Power Boat News described her in 1905 as "a beautiful piece of work throughout and will prove to be one of the attractions of the local power boat fleet she is a twin-screw cruising launch and owned by H. F. Hanson of the Boston Yacht Club Elkhorn is the largest gasoline yacht that has ever been seen so far up the Penobscot, and it is needless to say that she has attracted more than passing attention".

Some significant yachts feature in this album, many from the famous Herreshoff yard: the short high-sided Queen Mab, captained by John "Coconut John" Christensen, was the first American yacht to be riffed with a marconi sail on her mainmast; Vagrant, a 110 footer, was owned by Harold S. Vanderbilt, commodore of the New York Yacht Club, and under his captaincy winning both the Astor and King's Cups; the "handsome sloop" Vanitie (Bennett Fisher, "The Major Yachts" in Sailing Craft, 1928) was the 1914 America's Cup winner in the J-class (75-foot yacht), with revolutionary rig designed by William Starling Burgess; Thelma, originally launched in 1897 and regarded as one of the finest creations of the Logan Brothers in New Zealand, owned in 1926 by Walter D. Wilson; the 138 foot Mariette designed and built by Herreshoff in 1915; Mary Rose (original hull number 954) built in 1925 for Harold W. Brooks, as well as the Motor Yacht Mahapa II, an 85-footer built by the Matthews Boat Company of Port Clinton, Ohio. Perhaps the two most famous yachts identified in this album are the Advance and the Resolute: the "well known Advance constructed by Anker and Jensen in Norway arrived in America after a forty-eight day crossing She immediately attracted great attention, partly because her hull was the result of knowledge gained from racers in the small Universal Rule classes, but more because of the rig between her masts. The faults of the gaff foresail and its topsail had been recognized for some time, but it was Burgess who discarded it entirely and set what amounts to a large jib below and an over-sized 'Queen staysail' above" (ibid.). The Resolute defended the America's Cup in 1914, won it in 1920, and was sold in 1925 to E. Walter Clark of Philadelphia for racing. Many of these yachts are still sailing today, including the Vagrant, Thelma, Mariette, and Mary Rose.

A particularly evocative album, containing fine images of some of the most celebrated boats of the era under sail. "Maine's many islands, providing almost continuous shelter for small sailing vessels, together with a variety of scenic beauty and an abundance of good harbors, have made the Maine coast a mecca for the yachtsman" (Maine: A Guide 'Down East', 1937, p. 437).

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Landscape octavo (140 x 185 mm). Contemporary commercial post-binder album (by Miles Albums) of black limp cloth, black silk cord tie, lettered in gilt on front cover "Photographs".


124 original photographs mounted on black heavy stock paper, sizes from 90 x 145 to 70 x 45 mm (91 are the larger size), many with pencil or pen identification in lower blank margin, a few with blue colour-tinting added to water in images.


Minor bumping to corners, light edge-wear, some minor chipping to a couple leaves, glue residue from two photographs that have been removed, but overall very good.


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