2487 Early Letter Bag from Whaling Brig Two Sisters
Exceedingly rare linen letter bag from the whaling brig Two Sisters. Rectangular, with 3 semicircular flaps, and slits in the front and back. Stenciled "LETTER BAG" on the front, and "Brig Two Sisters" on one flap. Ca. 1840, in fine condition. 17 in. long, closed x 12 3/4 in. wide. Very few such letter bags have survived in such wonderful condition as this one.
The system of sending and receiving mail during the whaling era was truly remarkable. Typically, a whale ship would carry a bag such as this. Ahab in Moby Dick, Chapter 71, says to a visiting captain, "Captan, I have just bethought me of my letter-bag, there is a letter for one of thy officers...Starbuck, look over the bag". Melville then writes: "Every whale-ship takes out a goodly number of letters for various ships whose delivery to the persons to whom they may be addressed, depends upon the mere chance of encountering them in the four oceans."
Brig Two Sisters, built in Kingston, Mass, 1831. Put into the whaling trade in 1839 at Rochester Mass. Made four voyages until wrecked on the coast of Patagonia in 1843.