The item in question, while not without its faults/flaws, is one of the
most unique items I've ever acquired, and fits perfectly within one of my
collecting specializations. It doesn't really lend itself to display as long
as it remains intact, yet I believe that it is important that it remains
whole, rather than being broken down. Electronic images will have to
We'll start with some collateral that accompanied the item, in the form of
an article from the 1960 American Philatelic Congress Book authored by
Robert W. Murch. A newspaper clipping accompanying the article states:
The text of the article follows.
Black Jack and the Whales
A Civil War Whaling Ship Makes Philatelic History
by Robert W. Murch
The time was during the hot, tense month of June 1862, when General Robert
E. Lee assumed command of the Army of Virginia, the place was New Bedford,
Massachusetts, whaling capitol of the world, and the ship was the stout
Yankee whaler Globe bark-rigged, Alexander A. Tripp, Master. The voyage
that followed, though a routine voyage for a Yankee whaler, resulted in an
unusual and interesting philatelic item to delight any stamp collector or
student of postal history.
The item in question is the account book of the expenses of the whaling
bark Globe, registered out of New Bedford and typical of the Civil
War whaling fleet that roamed Pacific waters to insure a steady supply of
whale oil during the critical years of the Great Rebellion.
Whaling ship records indicate the Globe was laid down at Duxbury,
Massachusetts of 215 tons burden, became registered out of New Bedford in
1850, and commenced long and honorable service as a whaler on extended
voyages in 1850, 1855, 1858, 1862, 1865, and 1869, completing her last
voyage to the whaling grounds in May, 1872, when the new petroleum industry
of Pennsylvania sounded the death knell of whale oil requirements in the
Of the aforementioned voyages, the stamp collector has a definite interest
in the voyages of 1862 and 1865, during which time Civil War tax measures
were responsible for many interesting revenue stamps, as well as interesting
extremes to collect revenue when revenue stamps were not available. This,
then, is the philatelic voyage of the good ship Globe.
Our ship's account book indicates the Globe cleared New Bedford port
on June 10, 1862, and arrived back home on August 29, 1864, a cruise of
2 years, 2 months, and 19 days in quest of the wary whale.
Master and captain of the Globe was Alexander A. Tripp, Andrew M.
Tripp, first mate, George H. Little, second mate, and Albert J. Tripp,
third mate. Officers and men in the crew totaled twenty-four, including
four boat-steerers for the whaling boats, two coopers for the barrels needed,
a cook, a steward, two able seamen, five ordinary seamen, and five "green"
Upon return to New Bedford in August of 1864, Captain Tripp and his
harpooners had accounted for 906 barrels of whale oil, which fetched the
sum of $49,514.52 in Yankee dollars.
At this point came the traditional paying off of the crew and divison of
profits after a successful voyage with resultant compliance with the Civil
War tax laws.
The tax applicable to the paying off of the crew of the Globe was the
receipt tax of 2c which said in part "... 2c to be paid on all receipts for
payment of any sum of money or debt due exceeding $20 or for the delivery
of any payment."
This revenue law had been in effect since the summer of 1862, and to provide
for the proper collection of all taxes due, the Commissioner of Internal
Revenue authorized the Philadelphia bank note company of Butler & Carpenter
to produce the handsomely engraved first issue of United States revenue
stamps, ranging in value from 1c to $200, which appeared in September, 1862.
The tax law further provided that only specific revenue stamps were to be
used on specific documents such as contracts, mortgages, conveyances,
probates, certificates, exhcanges and the like. This system proved unwieldly
and lasted only until December 25, 1862, when the revenue stamps could be
used without regard to original intended use.
This, then, was the situation in New Bedford in August 1864, when the crew
of the Globe shuffled forward to be "paid off" in the presence of
Captain Tripp and Charles Tucker, owners' agent. Of the original crew the
account book indicates George Dorecon, ship's cooper, died at sea during the
first two weeks of the long cruise, Harry Williams, able seaman deceased,
John Burt and William White, seamen, deserted at St. Helena in March 1864
during the long voyage home, John Johnston, boat-steerer, put ashore to
hospital after 469 days at sea, and John Grady, seaman, left the ship in
1863. The rest of the crew stepped up one by one to the account book, checked
the deduction made against the ship's "slop chest" for clothing and tobacco
purchased at sea, and then, bank draft or cash in hand, tumbled ashore with
over two years' wages to spend in New Bedford town. Precisely at this point
the ship's agent produced a sheet of two cents stamps to legalize the 2c tax
receipt, and fortunately for the stamp collector of present day, the only
2c stamps available were a sheet of 2c "Black Jacks", issue of 1863 with the
full face of Andrew Jackson, one of the most popular postage stamps ever
issued by the United States!
As the muster was called, master, mate, harpooner, cook, steward, and seaman,
all came forward and initialed "Black Jack" across the face with date and
name, initials, or "X" ("his mark") indicating the Federal Treasury was
2c richer to help finance the guns for Gettysburg.
A closer look at the account book indicates what the whalers were paid after
two years at sea risking life and limb against the elements and rampaging
killer-whales. As was common in the whaling fleet, the paychecks at the
voyage end were based on "lay shares" of the whale oil cargo, with the
Captain entitled to the most "lay shares" and the "green hands" the least
Our Globe paybook witnessed by the staring "Black Jacks," row on row,
shows the following pay for the crew after 812 days at sea:
- Captain Tripp, 1/14 lay share of $49,514 plus bonus on 606 barrels of
oil, total, $4,149
- Albert J. Tripp, 3rd mate, 1/55 lay share, total, $900
- Thomas Sloan, boat steerer, 1/85 lay share, total $582
- James Robertson, ordinary seaman, 1/167 lay share, total $318
- John Rogers, "green hand", 1/200 lay share, total, $251
In the instance of the "green hand's" pay of $251 for 812 days at sea,
this averages out at 31c per day wages or a little more than 1c per hour
for the back-breaking "character building" duties of a sailor abour a whaler
during the Civil War era.
The Globe account book runs for three voyages and also includes the
June 1865 to August 1868 voyages which netted $65,411 in whale oil and the
final voyage from March 1869 to May 1872 which netted $38,909. For the
1862 voyage and thereafter, the "lay shares" divided among the crew
represented 31% of the proceeds of the voyage, with the owners getting the
final 69% out of which they paid all the vessel's expenses except the
wages paid to the crew.
This interesting account book, interesting both to the stamp collector and
the student of maritime history, includes 28 "Black Jacks" of 1863 used to
pay receipt tax by crewmen and 21 "U.S. Internal Revenue" 2c orange, 4
"Bank Check" 2c orange, and 3 "Bank CHeck" 2c blue of First Issue Revenues
used as receipts for the second and third voyages.
The present owner acquired this possibly unique item from Dr. E. Lee Dorsett
of St. Louis, collector and historian of our Yankee Whaling Fleet.
Thus ends the salty saga of "Black Jack and The Whales."
A remarkable piece, perfect for my illegal/improper usage collection. Sadly,
subsequent to the publication of the above article in 1960, someone
vandalized the logbook, cutting out 5 of the 28 Black Jacks and 2 of the
2c USIR revenue stamps. The remainder however, are still intact.
Shown below are selected pages from the logbook. Above the images is a link
to a PDF of the entire logbook as well as all of the collateral items that
accompanied it. Because the logbook was designed to be used in facing
spreads, I stitched together left and right page images, so the center
join will not be accurate, and there may be color/lighting differences
between the pages.
There are additional blank spreads in the logbook subsequent to the last
entry that I did not scan.
This is a LARGE file, approximately 132MB in size, the scans 200dpi. If
the clarity is insufficent, I can provide a 400-dpi file upon request, but
that version is almost 750MB. Original lossless TIFF images are several GB.