Sep 24, 2020 - Sale 2546

Sale 2546 - Lot 29

Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--1779.) Receipts from the construction of the 74-gun ship America. 4 manuscript receipts, each smaller than 5 x 9 inches, signed by payee, and docketed on verso; filing folds, minimal wear. [Kittery, ME], January to November 1779

Additional Details

The Continental Navy's first custom-built vessels were 13 frigates authorized in December 1775. In November 1776, Congress authorized 3 much larger 74-gun ships of the line, only one of which ever sailed: the USS America. The work was done at Colonel John Langdon's shipyard just across from Portsmouth, NH on what is now called Badger Island in Kittery, ME. Construction began in May 1777 and continued sporadically throughout the war. John Paul Jones was assigned to finish the job in July 1781. The ship launched in November 1782, after the end of fighting, and was promptly given to the French.
Offered here are 4 receipts from the construction of the America. 3 are issued to Colonel Langdon and all mention the "74-gun ship" explicitly. The earliest is for payment made on 12 January 1779 to joiner Daniel Hart for "plaini'g the keel and scarfs." Next is for work done by contractor John Burnham Hanson, paid on 30 June: "Haling, rafting & carry to Portsm'o 230 tons of timber," "load of knees & 6 tons of timber" and "540 ft of pine plank" as well as surveying another delivery of 9 tons of timber. On 12 August, sailmaker Tobias Walker was paid for "makeing 3 hammocks for carpenters to lodge in," and finally on 27 November 1779 Edward Hart was paid for baking bread for the workmen. A rare glimpse into the creation of what would have been the Continental Navy's largest ship.