Here is an awesome piece of maritime and whaling history. This double barrel shotgun was salvaged from the famous whaling ship The Wanderer after it was wrecked on Cuttyhunk Island near Martha's Vineyard in 1924.
The Wanderer is considered as one to the most beautiful, and more importantly, the last whaling ship to be built in New England. It was also among the very last of the wooden hulled ships to be built in Massachussetts. Constructed in 1878, the three masted Bark was the last whaling ship to sail from the famous whaling port of New Bedford. She operated from 1878 until 1924. During that time she went on 23 separate whaling voyages; including one record breaking trip to the Azores during which her crew caught 24 whales. The ship was also featured in the film Down to the Sea.
The famous ship's career was tragically ended in 1924 when the crew anchored her off the coast of Martha's Vineyard to wait out a storm. After falling victim to some unexpected heavy gails, The Wanderer dragged anchor and ran aground on the shores Cuttyhunk Island. The crew was forced to abandon ship as her hull began to break up on the rocks. The ship could be seen stuck less than 100 yards off shore for several days before a second storm ended up completely breaking up her hull.
However, because the ship ran aground so close to shore, local inhabitants immediately began salvaging components from the ship to keep as souvenirs. Wreckers are reported to have taken provisions, whaling gear, sails, boats, and the figurehead among countless other items.
Among the items taken was this double barrel 12 gauge percussion shotgun. This inexpensive Belgium-made gun was purchased by the owners of The Wanderer and kept in the captain's cabin. Shotguns were common place on 19th Century vessels; as they could be used for dispatching large animals like seals and walruses; and could also be used for self defense and to secure game should the crew become shipwrecked. Weapons were generally kept in the captain's quarters in order to prevent them from falling into the hands of mutinous crew members.
There is no doubt that this shotgun did at one point belong to the famous ship, as the word "WANDERER" is stamped on each of the gun's lock plate with a neat single strike die stamp. Such a stamp would have been applied to all the ship's tools as a way to prevent them from being mistakenly removed from the ship by a crew member.
Additionally, this shotgun also comes complete with a letter of authenticity from James Wilkie; who salvaged it, and other items from the ship, when it ran aground in 1924.
This shotgun remains in fair condition despite having a few cracks in the stock. Both locks hold solid on both full and half cock.
The gun appears to be all original with the exception of the ram rod; which is a modern replacement.
This once in a lifetime piece of whaling history is about as cool as it gets. This is the first piece of its kind that we've ever had in the shop and we'll most likely not have anything else like it in the future!