Bronze ship's bell, cast with block letters "Yacht Mistral Chicago." The bell is mounted on a hardwood board above a small decorative Art Nouveau bronze plate with foliate decoration incorporating a stone of polished green glass. The bell, of typical form, is surmounted by an acorn-shaped finial and rings loudly with its original heavy cast iron clapper.
The Mistral was a 48-foot schooner owned by Dwight Lawrence (d. 1912), a member of the Chicago Yacht Club. It won the second Chicago Mackinac Cup regatta in 1905. The 331-mile race from Chicago to Mackinac Island has been an annual highlight of the racing season on Lake Michigan since 1904. The Mistral, described in a contemporary account as a "beautiful schooner," continued to participate in subsequent regattas, where it was considered a serious contender.
Lawrence was a wealthy Chicago lawyer and one of the founders of the Roosevelt National Committee, a political organization started by a group of prominent Chicago citizens to promote the re-nomination of Theodore Roosevelt as the Republican candidate for president. Decades after he died of an infection in 1912, his family co-sponsored an award called the Master Mariners Trophy, given to individuals who have completed 50 Chicago to Mackinac Races.
The word "mistral" is French in origin, with related words in Spanish, Italian and Maltese dialects. It refers to a strong, cold wind from the north of France that strongly influences the climate of Provence and the Mediterranean coast, usually bringing clear, dry weather. Since "mistral" pertains to wind, it is not surprising that it has been a popular name for sailboats and ships, including four French naval vessels.
Condition: Generally very good, the bronze uniformly oxidized overall to a rich patina. Iron clapper a bit rusty, but very good overall. Backboard with the usual wear and shrinkage, recently professionally repolished.
"Mistral (wind)." Wikipedia. 25 May 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistral_(wind) (10 June 2011).
Handley, J.M. "Cruising Race to Mackinac Island." Yachting. Vol. 4, No. 1. July 1908. pp. 23-24. Online at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=1zQcAQAAMAAJ (7 June 2011).
Handley, J.M. "Mackinac Yacht Race." Forest & Stream. Vol. 67. July 28, 1906. pp. 143-144. Online at Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=r0gcAQAAMAAJ (7 June 2011).
"Island Goats Honors and Awards." Island Goats Sailing Society, Chicago Yacht Club Station. http://www.islandgoats.org/awards.htm (7 June 2011).
"Roosevelt Boomers Rich Chicago Men." New York Times. 30 January 1912. Online at: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F20B1EF9395E13738DDDA90B94D9405B828DF1D3 (7 June 2011).
"Throat Disease Fatal: Dwight Lawrence Succumbs in Chicago to Infection Now Epidemic." New York Times. 22 March 1912. Online at: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=FA091FFD345517738DDDAB0A94DB405B828DF1D3 (7 June 2011).