Schooner SUPPLY 1832 – 1861

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    Peter. H. King

    Further to my earlier post, I am researching the history of the schooner SUPPLY. Built by J. Balley in Shoreham in 1832 as a lighthouse tender for the Ballast Office of the Commissioners for the Improving and Improvement of the Port of Dublin (to become the Commissioners of Irish Lights in the 1860s), she was sold out service in 1850, presumably surplanted by steam, and arrived in Sydeny in 1851, where she was again sold, this time for the coconut oil trade from the Gilbert Islands to Sydney.

    She remained in this trade for only a relatively short time, before undertaking a missionary relief voyage to PNG, and was then sold to American master / trader Benjamin Franklin Chapman of Tahiti, who changed her name to QUEEN OF THE ISLANDS and engaged her in the trade from the Society Islands to San Francisco. Chapman sold her in 1858, and thereafter the vessel was engaged in the San Francisco to Mexico trade until she was apparently lost without trace on a voyage from SFO to Manzanillo in October 1861.

    There is only one known depiction of the vessel, and that appears on a Kiribati 60c stamp. I am keen to establish the provenance of the design – was it taken from another painting, or from lines / plans, or was it a figment of the designer’s imagination? The stamp was designed by Ernst Nisbet who died 9 years ago; a search of Nisbet’s archives by his wife has yielded nothing. The stamp was published by the House of Questa, which was taken over by de la Rue with apparently no transfer of archive material. According to Maude, there was a portrait of SUPPLY in the Union Club in Sydney, but enquiries to that source have yielded nothing. An image of the stamp is attached. I am keen to establish the provenance of the stamp’s design.

    My researches in respect to the schooner’s later life are fairly comprehensive. Not so her service in the Irish Lighthouse Service. I would very much like to receive any leads as to where research material on the Dublin Ballast Office might be found. I have received help from the Commissioners of Irish Lights, but their records do not go back that far. Also any construction details; given the responsibilities of Trinity House for the supervision and management of the Irish Lighthouse Service in those days, I suspect that T.H. probably specified and supervised her construction, but thusfar I cannot find any traces of such in the T.H. archives.

    Any advice, leads, on the above two queries would be sincerely appreciated. It is my hope to eventually produce a monograph on this fascinating little ship.

    Peter King

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