Sunday, September 7, 2014

War of 1812- Perilous Night; Naval Attack on Fort McHenry- September 14, 1814

Perilous Night; Naval Attack on Fort McHenry- Original Painting by Peter Rindlisbacher

Oil on canvas measuring 48 X 72 inches, unframed.

This just completed painting by marine artist Peter Rindlisbacher portrays the scene in the Ferry Branch of the Patapsco River off Fort McHenry about 1:;30 AM, September 14th, 1814. Nine armed barges full of picked men from the Royal Navy were discovered in the midst of their diversion attack, while Fort McHenry was being shelled with bombs and rockets from a line of British warships. The crossfire from the three U.S. forts and land batteries, and lack of progress in the British land attack, made the boats to withdraw out of range after a few hours of exchanging fire. Fort McHenry survived the night, of course, and a view of the flag still there by morning inspired the National Anthem.

Previous portrayals of the 1814 bombardment of Baltimore have shown a view from the far distant line of British ships firing at Fort McHenry, or from the defenders` ramparts taking the punishment, or via a bird`s eye view of the Fort and distant enemy.

Instead, the artist opted for what one historian has called "the first from this view", a little known element of the Battle, that a flotilla of armed British boats had been sent in close to the Fort as a diversion for the main land attack. Rindlisbacher's depiction is in among those boats, which likely had the best view of the Fort and battle that night.

The boat assault coincided with one of the most dramatic and dangerous times in the Nation`s history. The Treasury was virtually bankrupt, weeks before Washington had been captured easily, the Whitehouse had been burnt, the First Family barely escaping, and Baltimore was expected to fall next.

Portraying the high drama of that night was the artist’s objective in this painting, and its terror and violence cannot be overstated. Bombs, rockets and cannon balls relentlessly rained down on the Fort from the attacking ships and boats, while the Town waited in fear -- hours all in the midst of intermittent rain, thunder and lightning.

A pivotal night in America`s history, before dawn broke, the British left and "the Flag was still there.”

The painting is now available for purchase and be seen at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery, One High Street, Portsmouth, Virginia.

Giclee prints on stretched canvas are now available in two sizes: 24 inches X 36 inches and 40 inches X 60 inches. Here's the link to the artist's page at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery.

Also available- War of 1812: The Marine Art of Peter Rindlisbacher (Hardcover)
By Peter Rindlisbacher (Author) Victor Suthren (Introduction)
War of 1812: The Marine Art of Peter Rindlisbacher 

Released May 2013. War of 1812 : The Marine Art of Peter Rindlisbacher showcases 120 paintings in color by Peter Rindlisbacher, CSMA, of the maritime events during this epic time. His artwork documents many of the ships which were involved in the Great Lakes arena along with sailors and militia. This 190 page book is a record of his superb work with an introduction by Donald E. Graves and forward by Victor Suthren. Published by Quarry Press, Kingston; ISBN 978-155082-364-6.

*Museums and historic sites in the U.S. and Canada have purchased many of his paintings and his artwork is represented in part here at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Art in a Bottle- How Did They Get That Ship in There!

The Schooner Virginia Races the Pride of Baltimore II past Thimble Shoals Lighthouse.
Created by marine artist Heather Gabrielle Rogers.
The first known ship inside a bottle was created during the early years of the 19th century. Like other sailor-made art forms, these were created aboard old sailing ships in an era when sea voyages lasted months and sometimes years. Whalemen, during their idle hours, produced scrimshaw for family members, sweethearts, and friends. Decorative and utilitarian objects were carved from bone, ivory teeth, and baleen, and designs were engraved on the same materials. But other materials such as wood, rope and yarn were also used, and many interesting and decorative objects were created from these.

Two tall ships pass each other in this early 20th century ship in a bottle diorama.

It is not surprising then that an empty spirit or a medicine bottle lying around aboard ship might have spurred the imagination of a 19th century seaman into devising a way to display a model ship in it. Whatever the origin, the technique for placing ships into bottles was passed along and over time became a favored art form for sailors. Some sailors produced a facsimile of the ship that they sailed aboard; others may have created multiple ships passing by under full sail on rough painted clay seas or a diorama of a ship in harbor with the seaport in a background, a lighthouse at the harbor’s edge, possibly with tugboats in tow. These works can now be found in maritime museums around the world for there are few sailor-made decorations as nautical as a bottled ship.

Tom Applegate prepares the US Coast Guard tall ship "Eagle" for launching in the bottle.
Today, ship-in-bottle artists have taken the old sailor art form and produce exceptional works of art with microscopic detailing that will rival anyone’s imagination of “how did they get that in the bottle.” A selection of new works by Heather Gabrielle Rogers and Tom Applegate will also be a focus of this nautical show.

The US Coast Guard tall ship "Eagle" under sail on blue clay seas.

Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery is hosting “Art in a Bottle,” a collection of exceptional ship-in-bottles and dioramas from the 19th century through the present and featuring recent creations by maritime
artists Heather Gabrielle Rogers and Tom Applegate.

Heather Gabrielle Rogers- As a passionate crafter of ships in bottles, Heather has developed a huge appreciation for the challenge of constructing these tiny ships with my main focus directed towards detail. Her overall goal is to always produce what appears to be a miniature version of a ship or vessel captured in a moment in time.

Thomas Applegate- From as far back as he could remember he has had a love for the sea. In the early 1970's he made his first ship in a bottle, a brigantine. Being self taught, he found it very challenging and rewarding. Over the years, he has researched each vessel he has created in order to make them a work of art while being true to life.


Skipjack nautical Wares & Marine Gallery is located on the riverfront, 1 High Street next to the High Street Landing in Olde Towne Portsmouth, Virginia. Parking is available in the municiple parking lot next to the gallery and the Water Street garage located across the street of the building and along High Street.


 "Art in a Bottle" will be an ongoing show through September 28, 2014. The gallery hours are Monday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm.  Special showings can be arranged for groups by calling the gallery.


You can visit the gallery or peruse the collection online on their website at: You can call the gallery at (757) 399-5012 or email at The gallery showing is free to the public. The artwork is available for purchase but cannot be removed until the show is concluded.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sea Inspired Earthenware Creations by Kevin Collins

Kevin Collins holds one of his sea bowls.
Inspired by marine life that survive in the brackish habitats that exist along our Virginia shore, kevin Collins brings to life a unique collection of ceramic (porcelain) creations for your coastal home. The forms take on shapes of modeled bowls with oyster shells and barnicles and shell colored inner surfaces in shades of pink, coral, blues, greens and purples. Kevin's earthenware creations also take on the form of shell lamps, some actually starting with a piece of driftwood with small sea creatures added to the natural surface. His collection also includes shell-designed necklaces and earrings and even individual oyster shell and clumps of barnacles as refrigerator magnets. His designs are endless and we never know what Kevin will come up with next. These porcelain art pieces are functional   art oieces and perfect decor item for your beach and coastal home.

Sea-inspired coral colored ceramic bowl with barnacles.

Kevin's first experience in creating pottery was at the age of 12. He was offered a class in ceramics and discovered that he inspired to working and creating art with his hands. He also was interested in oceanography at a young age and fascinated with ocean marine life and the small sea creatures that lived along the waters edge and could be observed during the change of tides. Low tide exposed a variety of mullosks such as barnacles, oyster shells and welks and crustaceans that survived in our local waters with each ebb and flow and attached themselves to it's coastal surroundings. Kevin selects colors for his creations reminescent of the smooth interior of shells like conchs, oysters and giant clams.

Oyster shell lamp by Kevin Collins.
 Kevin's passion for marine ecology and his skill as a potter led to the design and production of his current ceramic and low-fired earthenware creations. Each sea bowl, lamp or piece of jewelry is within itself a study in marine life. His exceptional marine creations are unique, one of a kind, signed and dated by the artist.

A native of Hanover County, Virginia, Kevin has won numerous competitions and awards for his ceramic works of art. A selection of his ceramic creations were displayed in the front window of Tiffany's, New York. Custom pieces can be created for you and typically takes approximately six weeks to produce.

You can visit and see Kevin's coastal creations in person at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery located along Olde Towne Portsmouth Virginia's riverfront (next to the High Street Ferry Landing and basin).  Or on their webstore at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery or go directly to Kevin Collins page by following the link here; marine artist Kevin Collins.
Ceramic oyster magnet vy Kevin Collins.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Perfect Table Lamps for Your Nautical Home

A matching pair of nautical anchor lanterns converted to table lamps.
Selecting the right furnishings for your nautical room is certainly an important part of creating a successful interior. One product that tends to go unnoticed as a valuable and functioning part of creating the perfect nautical room is the appropriate selection of lamps and lighting. The majority of rooms that we have seen published in home decorating magazines like Coastal Living sometimes feature rooms with a nautical theme but these rooms tend to be lighted with plain, uninteresting lighting selections.  Others have settled for the cheap Chinese made knockoffs like those sold by stores like the Pottery Barn. Granted, the selection of quality nautical lighting is slim at best, but they are available if you know where to look. But before we get into the components of this blog, let's discuss exactly what the word nautical is, because there seems to be a big misunderstanding of what the word means. Nautical, is not a color or a striped fabric, or seashells from the seashore. Nor is it pretty fish or other marine animals. Nautical as defined by Webster's dictionary is relating to, or associated with seaman, navigation, or ships. So although the seashells from the seashore may be a great beach home decor item, they are simply not nautical.

 Appropriate nautical lamps are made from items such as old brass and metal boat or ship lanterns, wood and metal blocks, deadeyes, small anchors and other retired boat and ship parts all work well for creating great lamp conversions. So are maritime instruments such as sextants, octants, compasses and other instruments are other top choices for creating the perfect nautical environment. In other words, items that were used aboard a ship, for navigation or by seaman. Here are some selections of what would be considered a classic, traditional nautical table.

Vintage brass anchor lantern converted into a nautical table lamp.
Re-purposing is the word that we use to describe this practice. Taking vintage and antique nautical items and  redesigning them for a new practical and/or decorative use is what you should look for. Pictured above is a vintage brass anchor lantern designed for use aboard small vessels. Here we took out the original kerosene burner and added an interior electrical light and a room light above. The two lights can be toggled between the upper and lower lights with the upper finger switch. The lamp is completed with a solid wood base and a nautical navigational chart lamp shade. This is one of the best nautical lamps that you can buy because it gives both room light as well as ambient light. A dimmer switch can easily be added so you can create the desirable mood when needed. We also recommend that you choose LED light bulbs for the interior lamp light since they do not give off heat. Also make sure that when selecting a bulb, that it is compatible with a dimmer switch.

A classic antique wood block makes an outstanding nautical lamp.
Wood blocks comes in all shapes and sizes and we have made these into lamps using everything from small single-wheeled blocks to large, multi-wheeled blocks from ships. Shown above is a classic design block lamp with 1 inch thick hemp rope covering the metal wheels. This lamp was originally made by Abercrombie & Fitch when they were a sporting goods store and is now shown with a basic burlap lamp shade. Retains a pleasing old varnished finish and was mounted on to an oval oak base.

This nautical lamp was made using an antique lignum-vitae wood deadeye.
Other nautical hardware from ships are deadeyes. Though not as common as blocks, these make exceptional nautical table lamps. Shown here mounted on to a round wood base and with a pleated silk shade.

A vintage ship--in-a-bottle re-purposed into a table lamp.
Sometimes our nautical table lamps are made from vintage and antique hand-crafted items like this sailor-made ship-in-a-bottle diorama. The upper lighting is used as both an interior room light and to spotlight the artwork. This becomes a great conversation piece as well! Shown with a barrel shaped fabric lamp shade.

Old bronzed metal lighthouse converted into a table lamp. Perfect look for your coastal home.
Though not used aboard a ship, the lighthouse is definitely the sailor's best friend with a beam of light that shows them the way home and to keep them away from dangerous shoals that have caused a many a shipwreck. We made this from a vintage bronzed metal lighthouse base and added the light fixture above. Still works great as a perfect look for your nautical room.

Hanging antique metal nautical anchor lantern.
Shown above is an early 20th century anchor lantern with an interior electrical light. A customer purchased it and we converted it into a table lamp. You simply cannot reproduce the quality and look of an authentic, used nautical light!

Hand-tied marlinspike rope table lamp shown with a handmade navigational chart lampshade.

Our large-size Marlinspike Lamp is hand-made using the traditional turk's head knot at the base of the lamp pedestal and french whipping around the body of the lamp; Made here in Olde Towne Portsmouth by a member of the Skipjack Nautical Wares Studio. Solid walnut base. 

Nautical instruments are another great choice to use to make a nautical table lamp. Pictured above is an antique ebony wood and brass sextant with it's storage box used as the wood base. This way the instrument makes a great table lamp and display but without damaging the rare instrument. 

Pair of nautical lanterns like these early 20th century port and starboard lights make great table lamps, especially where you need two identical lamps like on each end of a sofa. These again can be easily converted with an interior light source and with a room light above. We recommend that when using valuable vintage and antique lanterns that you go about it by doing the less damage to it as possible. Though most of the lanterns that we use are beyond their days of sea use, the value still lies in their authenticity and condition. Always a consideration when you go about drilling a bunch of holes in it.

Last but by no means least in completion your nautical lamp is the right selection of a lamp shade and finial. Shown below are Skipjack's navigational chart lamp shades. These are available in three stock sizes and also as a custom size. Skipjack also offers as part of it's custom program your choice of a NOAA navigational chart so you can select a body of water close to home or a favorite shoreline destination.

Nautical chart lamp shades is a wonderful way to top off your nautical table lamp.
The final touch is selecting a handsome nautical themed lamp finial. From polished brass to hand-tied monkeys fist knotted finials, they add the right finishing look to creating the perfect nautical lamp. Shown below is our fowled anchor finial. Hey, sometimes a nautical finial alone can be enough!

These are some great examples of classic style nautical table lamps, and since most of these are made from old lighting and other nautical wares, most are one-of-kind and once sold are no longer available. Interested in dressing up your nautical room with a re-purposed authentic nautical table lamp? Here's a link to our NEW! JUST IN so you can see our selection when they become available and other great nautical items to dress up you home too! Here's a link to Skipjack Nautical Wares home page so you can peruse through our full line of nautical items.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dress up Your Lamp with an Affordable Nautical Lamp Finial

Skipjack's handcrafted monkey's fist lamp finial is a wonderful choice to top off your lamp.

Being in the nautical business, we spend a lot of time flipping through interior design magazines like Coastal Living, Architectural Digest, Better Homes & Gardens, etc. looking at rooms created by professional designers for inspiration and potentials for new products. I especially take notice of the chosen decor details. One thing that holds true for most successful interiors is a focus on scale and proportion, wall color and fabric selections, and overall floor arrangement. But so many of these designers have focused on primary design elements, but lack attention to decor details. Table lamps are a great example of this. Nautical lighting can add so much to the completion of a successful coastal home interior, and that goes for appropriate lampshades and lamp finials as well.

Custom nautical lamp made using a vintage brass anchor lantern. Light toggles
between interior ambiance light, upper room light or dual lighting selections.
Shown with our nautical chart lampshade and monkey's fist lamp finial.
Skipjack is known for its great selection of custom made nautical table lamps and re-purposed vintage light fixtures. Through the years we have supplied hundreds of homeowners with beautiful lamps and lighting for their coastal abode. Our nautical chart lampshades is a favorite and probably the best nautical lamp shade on the market today. And since you can customize it by selecting your favorite coastal navigational chart, it's a no brainer. But beyond selecting a maritime lamp or lampshade, a quality nautical designed lamp finial can add a lot of design for a very affordable price. Lamp finials can be fun, whimsical, classical or anything else you fancy. Whatever style you choose, they are an excellent way to add your own personal touch to a room. Pictured below is a selection of nautical designed lamp finials that we currently stock. Please follow the link here to Skipjack's lamp and lighting department on our web store.

Brass sailboat lamp finial. Great nautical home decor.

Polished brass fouled anchor lamp finial.

Brass antique dolphin lamp finial is a classic design for nautical interiors.

Brass carp fish lamp finial.

Finial made using a Murex seashell. We have a number of  shell finials
perfect for beach and coastal home decor.

Please visit the Skipjack Nautical Wares website for a great selection of maritime antiques, nautical furnishings and decor and just about everything nautical for your home, office and nautical lifestyle!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Maritime History: L.D. Lothrop's Patent Fog Horn

A surviving Lothrop's patent fog horn.
 Every once in a while we are able to find an item at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery that we can offer some factual information about it's history. Here, our research has taken us to the great maritime seaport of Gloucester, Massachusetts where this item was manufactured. Here is a brief history of the product and the company.

The fog horn was invented by Llewellyn Day Lothrop, born in Appleton, Maine in March of 1836. Mr. Lothrop opened a general ship chandler’s business in 1880 on Duncan Street in Gloucester, Massachusetts and soon became the leading chandlery for fishing gear. He invented different swivels & hooks for fishing, but was best known for the famous, Lothrop PATENT Fog Horn of which no Gloucesterman would sail without. This fog horn in this blog is an example of those manufactured by the L.D.Lothrop Co.,

Vintage picture of L. D. Lothrop's  horse-drawn wagon sandwich board advertisement.


Illustration of the working parts of a Lothrop fog horn, circa 1903.
Printed from Marine Engineering, Volume 8, April 1903: The fog horn illustrated here has a large sale in this country and abroad, as it embodies the two requirements of being well designed and well built. It is a forth, when a large quantity of air is pressed into the chamber and with little friction. The wear on the bearings and inside working parts is very small. The horn is protected by a galvanized sheet-iron covering and placed under the lever. Among the features of construction is the one-piece crank hanger, the turn-down handle having no nuts or pins to break loose, and the leather bellows, which is secure to the solid blocks of wood by being forced into the groove of the wood, held in place by a brass strip. All the bearings and metal parts are hard brass, made strong enough to withstand many years of service. Manufactured by L.D. Lothrop, 66 Duncan Street, Gloucester, Mass.

A picture of the L. D. Lothrop workshop showing a horn being attached to the bellows.
Photo was taken from  the blog "Schooner Adventure Mug Up".

Another example of a  Fog horn in an oak case, bears plaque from L.D. Lothrop, Gloucester,
Measures 16-1/2"h, 13-1/2"w, 20-1/2"d.  Notice the side-mounted horn. Photo from South Bay Auctions Inc. 

The pictures below are of the L.D. Lothrop boxed fog horn surviving in good working order that we currently have available. This particular model is  #19082, Pat. Aug. 20, 1901 as engraved on the makers brass tag. Crank handle on box side and retaining it's original red painted wood box and black stenciled letters on both sides. A wonderful example of a Gloucester, Massachusetts artifact. The box measures 20 1/2 in. X 9 1.2 in. X 16 1/2 in. Follow the link here to the fog horn listing on our webstore at Skipjack Nautical L. D. Lothrop box fog horn. This fog horn comes to us from the Arthur A. Rebman Maritime Collection.

Fog horn crank with wood handle and stenciled brand on the side.

View of the manufacturers brass label.

Opposite side of the box with stenciled "LOTHROP'S PATENT FOG HORN" and #1.

Top view with original leather handle. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Arthur A. Rebman Maritime Collection at Skipjack Nautical Wares

For sale in the showroom and online
 starting Friday, May 10th, Skipjack is pleased to present the 
Rebman Maritime Collection.

Some of the many nautical items available for sale from the Rebman Maritime Collection.

The Arthur A. Rebman Maritime Collection represents three decades of collecting authentic nautical related items during Mr. Rebman's years working in Hampton Roads shipyards. The collection comprises of a number of ship nameboards, a rare rope driven ship's wheel circa 1840, US Navy and US Coast Guard items, life rings and preservers, wood blocks of varying types and sizes, cleats and bollards, navigational ship lights, a group of Fresnel lantern lenses, wood and metal fids and marlinspikes, country flags, signal flags and pennants including a complete cased signal flag collection, oak lifeboat water keg, anchors, a WWII era boxed compass, Lionel taffrail log in original box, ship's bell, half hulls, vintage lobster trap and wood net floats, boxed fog horn (working order), collection of ship in bottles, vintage working pond boat, coffee mugs and other maritime related porcelain collectibles, old prints and photographs, brass plaques from ships, lots of ship parts and pieces and other nautical collectibles. This is a great opportunity to collect some authentic nautical items, most including the ship provenance!  

Authentic ship's name boards, life rings and vintage ship salvage is part of the Rebman Maritime Collection.

The Portsmouth showroom is now open EVERY DAY*
through the end of year!

Monday-Saturday - 10am - 5pm
Sunday - 1pm - 4pm
Additional times by chance or appointment

Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery 

One High Street, Suite 3
(facing the riverfront)
Portsmouth, Virginia 23704
(757) 399-5012