Glass Rolling Pin
The glass rolling pin illustrated in SWS 51, (June 2001, p 52) presents something of a puzzle. I can trace no vessel named CHRISTIAN CLARKE of Glasgow in the 1850s, nor, if I was to assume the inscription referred to a master mariner, cannot I find a certificated master mariner of that name in the list in 1853 Mercantile Navy Lists.
I have a rolling pin of similar date showing the vessel MARY. It is inscribed centrally in a complicated design as MARY built Sandwich in 1851. In a device on one side is the word BLEAN and on the other a single letter J which gives the appearance of having the rest of a name either left blank or scratched out. This pin also has a mystery attached to it.
MARY was built by Hoad Brothers at Sandwich in 1851. Her builders had an important shipyard at Rye, but also a subsidiary business in Sandwich. MARY was registered at Faversham No 25, 20 December 1851, and measured 132 4/10 tons on dimensions of 82.2' x 19.9' x 11.6'. Rigged as a topsail schooner as can be seen from the pin, she had one deck, two masts, a lute stem and a woman bust figurehead. Her registered owners were James Rigdin, master mariner, Whitstable 22/64, Richard Saffery, farmer, Blean (near Canterbury) 21/64, and William Croft, builder of Canterbury, 21/64. The 'J' in the inscription may perhaps have been James Rigdin, whilst 'Blean' clearly refers to the domicile of the farmer.
The puzzle is that her certificate of registry is endorsed with the information that she was wrecked on Folkestone Ridge 2 July 1852, which indicates a brief life for the vessel. I have traced her as having arrived at, and proceeded for, Newhaven from Deal 1 July, bound Seaham to Newhaven under Captain Rigdin, obviously with a coal cargo. However, there is no news of her arrival at Newhaven or reference to her loss. She does not appear in the very comprehensive lists of marine casualties compiled by Farrer for the Final Report of the Royal Commission on Unseaworthy Ships (the Somerset Commission) as Appendix LXXXV, to Parl.Paper XXXIV (1874, c.1 027-III).
The pin looks entirely authentic, and it can hardly have been general knowledge that this unfortunate schooner had such a brief life. But it is very difficult to account for the date on the pin, which is 1855. Why should the vessel have been celebrated in this rolling pin so long after her loss? We know that her owners soon acquired a new brig HERO in July 1854, and James Rigdin, Croft and Saffery were again associated in ownership. If these pins were habitually given to seamen at the end of the voyage, why are they so scarce, and why has the practice not been referred to before?
Editors note: Glass rolling pins must have been made in considerable numbers. Yet although one sees them from time to time in Antique- shops and fairs, they do not appear in large quantities. I would suggest this is partially due to their fragile nature and the environment in which they were used.
In considering those of nautical interest, it is my understanding that these items were bought by seamen to take home to their loved ones. They paid for them, so it is not surprising that the queue to have one with their ship or their own name on, was a small one compared with that at the local tavern.
Few men could afford presents to take home. However, that is not to say they were not caring, many spent hours making all sorts of gifts while dreaming of home. Whale-teeth were free, rope, canvas and timber was lying around, scraps of wool could be scrounged,
. but you know all this. I say these pins are scarce because comparatively few seafarers had the money to spare. Thus, Robin Craig is probably right to concentrate on ships masters but crew members should not be discounted.
As to "why has the practice not been referred to before?" I am sure it has. It was passed down to me in old sea-dogs tales when I was a boy. We used to have a saying when I was at sea, "The ordinary practice of seamen" It was widely accepted as an answer by the Examiners for Masters & Mates when they posed the question "By what authority?"(different context, will say the pedantic, but I blame their parents!) I know this will not satisfy Robin, so please somebody write in and tell him where we can read all about it.
From Robin Craig
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I have a glass pin with the Mary on it marked as 'a present to William Young or Younger from his mother'. I had no idea of the history so finding this is a great interest.
Several Hoad built vessels were registered at Plymouth E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you details
According to my information the Mary ON 20032 was wrecked on Folkestone Ridge on 7th February 1871 !
I am related to the Hoad shipbuilders and have been compiling a list of their ships and their relative fates.
Do you know if the Hero was a Hoad ship ?
I have just listed a huge one of these pins on Ebay and have no idea what it is worth but I guess in ten days all will be revealed. I just hope it goes for a bit more than my start up price of $9.00U.S. If anyone wants to see it, just copy and paste on the link below.
Regards Phil, Australia.
Answer for MicheBraaten@aol.com
I've just been on the internet and found a
pin for sale in the US by West Sea Company.
If I understand corectly, their price is
325 us $ for a piece " in perfect condition with the telling open pontil on the right end. 12 1/2 inches in length "
Not really a reply but a question
I have 2 pins, one white - 77 cm long
another is 38 cm is " Bristol blue " They are plain with no decoration. They were in my family's homes in North Wales. I do not know how/when they came to our homes. I remember seeing them hung up by a string on top of doors. They both are broken at one end. So my question is
WHY SHOULD THEY BE BROKEN ?
Thanks for any comment.
My mother has a glass rolling pin, every since i was a little girl I can remember that. wonder how much they are worth and who made them. She would like to know the value of them too. I dont see the rolling pins too often in a antiques stores.