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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Log chips by John Lyman

Mirrored from Full Fathom Five:

(by Ted Miles, Assistant Curator)

Starting in July 1948 maritime historian John Lyman wrote and edited a mimeographed news letter called Log Chips: A Periodical Publication of Recent Maritime History. Each issue is twelve pages and each volume consisted of 12 issues. There were four volumes and later one of his friends Norman Brouwer edited a series of Log Chips Supplements.

The material covered within these pages is wide ranging and is a wonderful resource for those people who are interested in commercial sail in the Pacific after about 1860. For example there is a List of Launchings in the United Kingdom in most issues. The iron and steel sailing vessels that were built in the UK between about 1838 and 1907 were a major player in moving cargo around the world during this period. These vessels came to be called Cape Horners because so many of their voyages took them around Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean.

Another area that Dr. Lyman was very interested in was west coast shipbuilding. In many issues he wrote biographical articles including launching lists on ship builders up and down the coast, for example Matthew Turner, Hans D. Bendixsen, the Hall Brothers and others. The men and the companies who built the East Coast schooners were covered especially in New England. There are lists of schooners from seven masts down to three mast and their histories.

Regular reports in Log Chips covered Recent Bibliography, Sail News and Book Reviews. An especially interesting group of reviews by California State Senator James Mills was a group of classic titles that were not new even 50 years ago and deserved to be better known. This writer has continues to use this approach in Relative Bearings today; the Newsletter of the Friends of the San Francisco Maritime Museum Library.

As mentioned Lyman did a lot of the writing, but other contributors included Commander Alan Villiers, maritime historians Hans Joaquin Gersdorf and Andrew W. Nesdall, Curator Robert G. Burgess of the Mariners Museum and so many others. Charles W. Morgan of Boston wrote letters and later contributed a 12 page index to the publication.

Further needs to be said on the Launching Lists of the United Kingdom. They are laid out geographically around the coasts from Newcastle and Sunderland all the way around to Belfast, Ireland. Changes of name and owners are recorded and in many cases final fates of the vessels. John Lyman took the annual lists back to 1875 and Norman Brouwer took them the rest of the way back to 1838 when the Iron Age was launched. She was the first ocean going iron sailing vessel in the world. I do not know of any other publication where you can get so much sailing ship data in one place.

Log Chips.

Kortum, Karl, and Routh, Donald. "John Lyman: the Hub of Our Wheel." Sea History No. 12 (fall 1978) (1978): p. 13-15. Print.

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