Carved Wood Silver-Mounted Commemorative Ship-Launching Gavel
For S.S. Chiapas, Glasgow, Scotland: October 27, 1882
Maple and rosewood with applied silver bands, in fitted mahogany box
5.75 inch hammer head, 12.75 inches long
14 x 7.5 x 4 inches, mahogany box
An exceptional finely carved large gavel, the maple hammer head having leaf-carved finial, flanked on either side by silver bands, with carved waterleaves leaves in the coved reserves, the bulbous center decorated on each side with carved star-form geometric figure terminating in trefoils on stippled background within circular band with incised letters “S.S. CHIAPAS LAUNCHED 27th OCT. 1882” and on the verso: “J. & G. THOMSON CLYDE BANK SHIPYARD GLASGOW,” the fluted and ring turned rosewood handle intricately and finely carved with waterleaf and hatchwork motifs, ending in ball finial. Fitted in original deep bluish purple velvet within mahogany rectangular hinged box. Geographically, Chiapas is a state in southern Mexico.
This gavel was a presentation for the christening or launching of The S.S. Chiapas. This general cargo steel steamer, weighing 996 tons, was launched in 1882. It crashed the same year seven miles from shore on its way from Glasgow to Trinidad.
J. & G. Thomson Clyde Bank Ship Yard, the S.S. Chiapas shipbuilder noted on the gavel, was a major shipbuilding company established by brothers James and George in 1852. They moved operations to the River Clyde in 1872, and the name of the town was renamed Clydebank in 1882 after the company. The firm was taken over by steel manufacturer John Brown & Co. in 1899. Ships built under the John Brown name include the Lusitania, the Queen Mary and the QE2, its last major project.
Condition: Generally fine, with only minor wear. Box nicely patinated with the usual overall light aging, handling, wear.
“Clydebank (Barns o’ Clyde).” The Gazetteer for Scotland. 1995-2002. http://www.geo.ed.ac.uk/scotgaz/towns/townfirst447.html (11 February 2003).
“John Brown Shipbuilding and Engineering formed, 1852.” BBCi. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/timelines/scotland/john_brown.shtml (11 February 2003).