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Maritime, Collectible, Folk Art, Lifesaver Souvenir, S.S. Broad Arrow, Vintage Photograph, 1920s


Souvenir of SS Broad Arrow, New York
New York: c. 1920s-30s
Three photographs mounted on card
Lifesaver-form wooden frame
9 inches diameter, framed

Souvenir photographs in a lifesaver-form frame for the SS Broad Arrow. This is likely a unique piece of folk art made by one of the sailors serving aboard the ship. It is decorated with hand-painted illustrations of the American flag and the flag of Standard Oil of New York. In the center are three photographs of the crew and the ship’s deck.

Product Description Continues Below


The SS Broad Arrow was a commercial oil tanker operated by Standard Transportation Co. for Standard Oil Co. of New York (later Mobil). Launched at the end of 1917, it was used for cargo transport by the U.S. Navy during World War I from March 1918. It was returned to the oil company in early 1919 and home ported out of New York City. It was re-enlisted for use by the U.S. Navy in World War II. In January 1943, the Broad Arrow was transporting diesel and fuel oil for the Navy as part of a convoy off the coast of Guyana, when it was attacked by a German submarine. In this confrontation, the Broad Arrow was sunk, killing the captain, merchant seamen and U.S. armed guards.

Sailors adopted crafts such as carving, rope work, whale bone scrimshaw and sailors’ shell valentines to pass the time on board ship or as a hobby after retirement. Sailor arts were often made as gifts for their wives or sweethearts back home, and also were sold or bartered by the sailors aboard ship or at port. Lifesaver-form frames were often made as souvenirs, framing photographs or paintings of the ship or its crew.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light handling, wear, toning, soiling, warping. Photographs slightly sun faded but still with strong image, mounted on cardboard, slightly warped. The cardboard backing to the frame is cut from a cigarette package, likely as made.


Visser, Auke. “Broad Arrow.” Auke Visser’s Mobil Tankers & Tugs. (11 November 2011).