Item #28136 Manuscript letter from Jacob Small Sawyer of Maine, a sealer on Heard Island in 1857. Antarctic, Heard Island.
Manuscript letter from Jacob Small Sawyer of Maine, a sealer on Heard Island in 1857.

Manuscript letter from Jacob Small Sawyer of Maine, a sealer on Heard Island in 1857.

1857. A manuscript letter sent from "Herds Island Indian Ocean, Corinthian Harbour Feb 30 (sic) 1857". The letter is from J. S. Sawyer, a resident sealer on the island, to his brother in Maine.

In 1857, the writer J.S. Sawyer was about 40 years old. Alas, he does not report what his life or conditions were like. "I have a few minets (sic) to write to you before the Brig sails. I rote (sic) to Farther (sic) a few days since but I thought I would send you a few lines. my health is good and doing well you must excuse me for not riting (sic) more, or they are redy (sic) to sail. So good by. P.S. you can send me a letter if you like by mail as (puck?) as you get this.

The island was sighted by British sealers in 1833; sighted again by an American sailor, John Heard in November 1853 en route from Boston to Melbourne, which he promptly named for himself. The first landing was made in 1855 by Captain Erasmus Darwin in the ship Corinthian, and therein started the decimation of colonies of elephant seals and penguins in the second half of the 19th century. The ship Corinthian was still supplying the island two years after its first landing there. "Since the early 20th century, however, the island has largely been left alone and has reverted to a state of nearly pristine Subantarctic wilderness. Transferred from British to Australian control in 1947, it is now inhabited intermittently by scientific research parties." (Britannica).

Jacob Small Sawyer (15 Oct 1816 Limington, York, Maine - 15 Oct 1859 Eaton Center, Carroll, New Hampshire), oldest son of Peter & Sarah Sawyer. He had one son Josiah with Maria, his wife. This written to one of his younger brothers, Peter Wilson Sawyer (1835-1902).

The verso is addressed to "Peter W. Sawyer, South Brigton (sic), Bridgton Me." "Ship" cancellation "5 cts to pay, and cancellation for "New London Jun 15 Conn." The letter is signed "Direct, J. S. Sawyer of Ship Corinthian, Desolations (sic) Island, Indian Ocean. in care of Perkins D. Smith, New London Conn.

9 3/4 x 7 3/4", lined paper, 4pp, (central 2pp blank), folded many times. Addressed on the blank verso, which is a bit soiled, with the remnants of a wax seal.

A remarkable survival of the earliest period of occupation of the island, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, "the only volcanically active Subantarctic islands they ‘open a window into the earth’, thus providing the opportunity to observe ongoing geomorphic processes and glacial dynamics. The distinctive conservation value of Heard and McDonald – one of the world’s rare pristine island ecosystems – lies in the complete absence of alien plants and animals, as well as human impact." (UNESCO). Item #28136

Price: $2,250.00

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