Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire. authors.
Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire
Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire
Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire
Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire
Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire
Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire
Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire
Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire
Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire
Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire

Five-decade archive of letters and documents pertaining to the shipping business of Captain Thomas E. Oliver of Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire

Various locations: 1817-1854. Unbound. This archive consists of 30 different stampless letters, some with enclosures. All the correspondence pertains to Oliver’s shipping business (ship conditions, repairs, cargo, business opportunities, invoices, pricing, illustrated bills of lading, weather, etc.) which was headquartered in Portsmouth-New Castle, New Hampshire.

The letters were sent by ships’ masters from ports along the Eastern Seaboard (Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia), the Gulf Coast (Alabama and Louisiana) and in the Caribbean (Cuba and the Danish West Indies).

They contain a wide variety of circular date stamps (including two early Baltimore Rail Road postmarks) as well as manuscript and handstamp postal rate and ship markings, some of which are rather scarce.

All are in nice shape, philatelically fine to very fine with only some minor issues. Very good. Item #009009

Correspondence highlights include:

2 Dec 1819 from Savannah - “I arrived hear after voyage of 57 Days in Distress. . . . My Sails and Riggin is in Bad order. . . . I have lost my small anker and cable. . . . I beat 4 Days to get round Cape Maze then I was obliged to come round Cape Antony for the vessel would not beat to windard and such Weather. . . . My four sail is all to pieces the Mainsail can be repaired. . . . the hull remains good. . . . I lost Wm Mullin . . . Died with yallow Feaver.”

5 Dec 1833 – from Savannah – “the Collector had given me the same Fishing License that I had carried in the Custom house in stead of a Coasting License. . . . I have noted a protest against the collector and . . . wish you to attend to it. . . .”

25 Dec 1836 from Norfolk - This two or three days as I was wind bound am trying to sell potatoes but have not sold but 2 bushels. I have sold the Hay . . . potatoes would not sell hear at present. . . . Their is great danger of being frozen up in going to Richmond with the potatoes as you cannot make dispatch with them unless sold. . . . am thinking of going to Baltimore as there is no prospect of selling hear. . . . Since our arrival their has bin a strong North wind that prevented going up the Bay.”

13 Jan 1837 from Annapolis - “Towed in here today by the Steamboat Relief from the Ice. I have bin in the Ice 14 Days. I was to anchor under north Pinte and the Ice Come Down and swept a number of vessels out of the River and all that was under north Pinte and Carried us into the Bay. I tried to get my anchor but could not. I sliped it an tried to get clear of the Ice by making Sail but could not. That night the Ice froze so hard that the Relief Boat could not get to us for she had tried anumber times and I have bin Drifting about the Bay and Could not get out the Ice. The Ice has moste made arack of the vessel. The Ice has twisted my ruder poste off there is nothing but the Braces hold it. The vessel has bin jammed so much that her Wales and Bridge is sprung in though. Some of her timbers is Broak on one side and she Donte appear to have so much Barings on one side as she had before. Since she was jammed she has a good Deal of list. I think the vessel is strained and Damaged more than what she looks to be. I don’t think she can be made so good and strong as she was before. . . . The Ice is from 5 to 10 inches thick and very hard. It has riped of some of my sheating. . . . I took up the crew of a small vessel on the Ice they were Frozen considerable. Their vessel was sunk by the Ice. Their has been a number of vessels abandoned in the Bay on account of the Ice.”

13 Feb 39 from Black Rock Harbor (Bridgeport) - “We have got in to this port after being in the Ice 6 Dayes. We have had a Gale from the West and WSW ever since we left Cape Ann. We have received no Ingra except the loose of best bow anchor. . . . Saw a man from New York lead that no veseles could git in nor out and 3 veles sunk at Sandy Hook. . . . there is 5 veseles of in the ice that we can sea hear is vessels from New London that has been 25 Dayes Bound. . . Don’t find falt for I have tride My Best.”

5 Feb 1845 from New Orleans - “The general business of this city is dull. The extreme low price of western produce leaves nothing for the Farmer – save the glory of Polk’s election! – you I suppose esteem that glory enough!”

Although the philatelic value of this archive is significant, its real importance lies in documenting an active New England maritime shipping business over the first half of the 19th-century. Thomas E. Oliver grew-up in New Castle, and as a youth was taught navigation by the ship-captain son of a prominent clergyman. He went to sea at an early age and in 1805, was impressed on board the British naval frigate Diana from the American brig, Minerva, and later became a ship’s master. (See Nile’s Weekly Register Supplement to Vol. III, p. 139) It’s unclear when he began his business as a ship owner and transportation broker, but by 1850, the Portsmouth City Directory showed he owned at least six vessels.

As of 2018, no similar collection of maritime shipping correspondence is for sale in the ephemera or philatelic trade. OCLC shows one volume containing 40 shipping records from the company is held by the Library of Congress and two separate business letters held at other institutions, no similar record or correspondence collections from other maritime shipping agencies. ABPC and the Rare Book Hub lists no auction records for similar groupings, however a similar archive from a different maritime shipping company was sold at a philatelic auction in 2004.

Price: $2,500.00