Photographic portrait of Charles Scontras

Detail of cord and stich used to bind the manuscript.

Cover for the “Ship Jewel Log Book” bound in sailcloth

The Maine State Museum is proud to announce the acquisition of the 1817-1819 logbook for the Jewel, a Portland vessel that sailed under ship masters Joseph Smith, Richard Keating, and Samuel Parsons. The pre-statehood document registers the Jewel’s homeport as Portland, Massachusetts from which the vessel transported goods on a cycle serving U.S. eastern and southern ports, West Indies, Cuba, England, Portugal, and back. Over the three-year period documented in the logbook, the Jewel made three transatlantic crossings, primarily moving lumber, cotton, tobacco, coal, and salt from U.S. and European ports.

At a striking 20”x14” and bound in sailcloth, the logbook details the daily weather conditions, location, travel, and activity aboard the ship. Records show that the Jewel was a first class, two-deck, three-masted, square-rigged merchant, with a 329-tonnage hull. Built in Massachusetts of oak and pine in 1810, the Jewel sailed until at least 1825.

The logbook provides a unique opportunity to witness the activity and effects of the early Maine trade and transport industry through firsthand observations. The cargo and destinations show the reach of Maine’s lumber industry and involvement in the exchange of slave trade goods such as cotton and tobacco – an examination of which brings a better understanding of and reckoning with Maine and New England’s role in the larger slave economy.

Logbook pages detailing six days of the Jewel’s forty-day journey under from Portland to Havana under the command of Capt. Keating, January 16-21, 1818.

Rich in detail, the logbook also tells of both the perils and monotony of life aboard a cargo vessel. The final voyage entered in the logbook details the shipment of a hull of salt from St. Ubes (Setúbal) Portugal to Portland resident and merchant, Isaac Sturdivant. The logbook reports that the Jewel began to take on water while in port and made the trip only because sailors pumped the ship several times a day. The logbook ends with the Jewel arriving safely in Portland on July 12, 1819.

With time, there is much to be gained from further examination of the logbook, including information on the lives of the people represented in it and the role of the Jewel in Maine’s maritime history. The Maine State Museum hopes to digitize and make accessible this resource as well as use it to support research, exhibits, and education. It is a truly unique item representing Maine and its people as they engaged with the early nineteenth-century global markets that connected Maine with the region, nation, and world.

Maine State Museum