One of the most recognizable pieces of our collection is the USS Lancaster Eagle, carved by John Haley Bellamy. What many people do not know is how we came to acquire such a treasure.
In the 1930’s, we had a number of buyers roaming around, looking for artifacts for the museum. A group of them happened upon the eagle while poking around a ship chandler’s shop in Boston (of course, it would be pretty hard to miss). The owner of the shop was very eager to get rid of the piece; understandable since it was the era of the Great Depression and it took up a lot of space in his shop. But, as usually happens once someone expresses some interest, the price suddenly escalates. Because of this, the purchase of the eagle was put on hold. Thankfully, they did end up coming back to purchase the piece! It is one of the most important and magnificent pieces in the collection. And when people walk through the doors of our museum, they tend to head straight to the eagle. Not surprising since it is very regal and difficult to miss!
Picture of the eagle in the ship chandler’s shop.
Print of USS Lancaster, courtesy of David Petrie. The beautiful eagle figurehead is visible on the bow and shows just how big the ship was.