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Thursday, December 13, 2012

F. Persky & Company- The Beginning of the Perko Story

Full view of the Persky & Co anchor lantern. Today the company is known as PERKO.

The PERKO Story consists of many interesting pieces. They make up a modern day marine hardware success story that goes back over 100 years! This is the first sentence from the Perko story, the history of the famous American marine lighting company as taken from their website. I had known enough about the Perko story to turn to it while researching this recently discoverd lantern and the article was the source that validated it's maker. So, this blog is in part about the Perko companies beginnings and is demonstrated by an example of one of the first marine lanterns produced by this famous marine hardware company.

Name of PERSKY & CO., AJAX , NEW YORK, U.S.A. on hourglass shaped globe.

This early example is of one of their first anchor lanterns produced when the company was created by F. Persky & Company, New York, lantern makers in the early 1900's. The company was in operation for about a dozen years until 1913 when Frederick became president of National Marine Lamp Company. This Company name was established prior to Frederick Persky changing his last name to Perkins! (See history below).

Side-open view of the Persky lantern.

This unique lantern was manufactured using galvanized metal with brass chimney cap and 'Christmas tree' vents and ring handle and two tie-down rings on each side and five vertical wire guards. Fixed 'hourglass' shaped molded colorless globe with embossed letters stating "PERSKY & CO. AJAX. NEW YORK, U.S.A.". According to a PERKO representative, they believe that the name 'AJAX' was the name of the company that produced the glass globe. Measures 10 3/4" tall, exclusive of the ring bail handle, 4 1/4 inches diameter of base. Slight scaling on exterior of the metal surface, but overall, this lantern survives in good original condition. Missing burner.

Top section and brass chimney cap of Persky & Co. anchor lantern.

History (The Perko Story)

The story starts with Frederick Persky, who later became known as Frederick Perkins. He was a Russian immigrant who was schooled in Germany as a machinist and tool-and-die maker. Frederick came to the United States in the early 1890's and soon became employed as a machinist for E.W. Bliss & Company in Brooklyn, New York. In the early 1900's, he and a partner began operating a business, F. Persky & Company, Lantern Manufacturer, out of the basement of his house.

In 1907, Frederick's son Louis joined him in the business, and together they enlarged both the product line and the manufacturing facilities. By 1912, they had seventeen employees and made a wide range of marine lanterns and products.

The business continued operating until 1913 when Frederick became president of National Marine Lamp Company, based out of Forestville, Connecticut. Frederick and Louis left that company in 1916 and moved back to Brooklyn, New York, where they started Perkins Marine Lamp Corporation.

Anchor lantern manufactured by the National Marine Lamp Co., Forestville, Ct.

Five generations later, PERKO is still a privately owned, family operated corporation, which is unusual in today's marketplace. Perkins Marine Corporation was initially known as Perkins Marine Lamp, Inc. The original focus was on the manufacture of hand formed sheet metal products for the marine market. The first catalog was published in 1916, with a product line as diverse for its time as PERKO's catalog is today.

Anchor lantern manufactured by Perkins Marine Lamp Co.,  Brooklyn, New York

It included a full range of kerosene and electric lanterns for small and large boats, ventilators, chart cases, signaling devices, mooring buoys, pumps and a variety of spare parts. These products, fabricated from brass, copper and galvanized sheet metal, began what was our ongoing reputation for producing high quality products. We still do some hand forming and soldering today, much as it was done in our early years.
In 1922, the "PERKO" trademark was instituted. Each new product (and there were many) utilized the latest, sophisticated metal manufacturing technology and customers came to expect the highest standard of excellence from PERKO products.

Two other examples, one identical to the one in this blog, the other manufactured in brass was in the Phillip Sullivan Collection of Lanterns, recently auctioned off by the Jeffry S. Evan & Associates, Mt. Crawford, Virginia.

The Persky & Co. AJAX anchor lantern is currently available at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery. Follow the link above to the product listing on their webstore.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Spectacular Battleship Size 48-Star American Flag

Massive 48 star US ensign laid out in front of Skipjack Nautical Wares.
It's a wonder what one might find digging around at local antiques and flea markets. And that is what we encountered this last Saturday at the Olde Towne Antiques to Flea Market here in Portsmouth, Virginia. Held the first Saturday of each month, the Olde Towne Portsmouth event is always full of interesting items, from the typical yard sale flea type finds to the most unexpected treasures. Last year, I discovered and purchased a Philadelphia windsor bowback side chair, branded with the name of the maker, John Letchworth (1759-1843). His shop was located on Third Street between Chestnut and Walnut (1784) and he actually made chairs for Thomas Jefferson and used at Monticello. More on this in a later blog.

A view above the flag. Magnificent!
This time we discovered an extremely large pile of wool bunting stuck in the corner of the vendors booth that appeared to be the colors and design of an American flag. Upon closer inspection, we knew it was more than that, it was a major find. I asked the owner what he knew about it. He responded by saying that they had just purchased it and it came out of a house accross the river in Norfolk, VA. The flag had been stored away for longer than the previous owner could remember, but recounted that it once was flown above a battleship during WWII. Unfortuately, he did not know the battleships name. This is not unusual. Other accounts of battleships decommissioned and deaccessed flags were sometimes removed in order to maintain secrecy.

I continued and asked him how large was the flag and the condition....obviously way to big to unfold and inspect in it's current location. He responded, "Well, it's about 20 feet by 30 feet or thereabouts and is definitely worn. To big for anyone to hang on their walls".
After not much consideration, Alison paid them for it and I hauled it out to our car. Damn heavy; that's a lot of flag to carry and a lot of history too!

Alison measures the  height of the flag.
Later that day, with the help of a few of our friends, we unmatted the pile of flag and stretch her out in front of our store. We reviewed the condition of our find- yes, definitely some rips and tears, typical of the damage inflicted on a ships flag due to weather and/or battle conditions. We found the flag makers tag sewn on to the heavy canvas heading. The tag stated:  "HIGH GRADE, REG. U.S. PAT. OFF., BUNTING, -ALL WOOL-, THE BEST SINCE 1847'. This was the label used on U.S. government and military flags made by Annin & Company, New York, a major producer of high quality flags and the maker of this one as well. The massive 48-Star US national ensign flag, measured  20' x 38' in size and according to the presidents standardized sizing for flags created in 1912, this is flag size #1, the largest of US ensigns produced. Annin & Co. named this size flag "ABRUS".

The sewn on tag by Annin & Co., New York.

Folding up the flag for safe storage.

A 1926 advertisement fot Annin & Co., New York.

USS Iowa commissioning ceremony. The flag is similar to the one in this blog.
This flag was a great discovery and I would rank it up there with some of our greatest we've uncovered to date. Not so much as a valuable item, monetarily wise, but such a major symbol of our nation, potentially flown during major naval battles and rising above all others as the symbol of freedom that so many have laid down their lives defending it. Semper Fi!

Here is the link on Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Galleries page on our webstore. We will also consider donating it to the right foundation or museum if the right opportunity arrives.  We have also included here a link to the Zaricor flag collection, a national treasure presentation of American ensigns, jacks, flags  & pennants.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Maritime Lantern- Manufactured by Barbier, Benard and Turenne, Makers of Lighthouse Fresnel Lens

Post or Anchor lantern made by Barbier, Benard & Turenne, Paris France.
A recent discovery by our firm, this exceptional post or anchor lantern was produced by the French manufacturer Barbier, Benard & Turenne, Paris France. What makes this lantern so exceptional is that Barbier, Benars & Turenne, also known as BBT was a major manufacturer of the Fresnel lens that light up numerous of the lighthouses found along our countries coastlines. Notice the lighthouse styling of this exceptional maritime light- reminiscent of the

Manufacturers nameplate for
Barbier, Benard & Turenne. 
This fine brass lantern stands 14 1/2 inches tall and features a thick, 360 degree glass Fresnel type lens that survives without cracks or chips, protected by 6 heavy gauge cast brass guards. The upper body of the lantern is designed with a ball style chimney with a series of cylindrical vents on the bottom edge. The lower body measures 4 1/4 inches tall from the bottom to the upper lip and would house the lantern burner. The manufacturers plate is positioned on the front side and states in embossed letters "ANCIENS ETACLISSEMENTS, BARBIER, BENARD & TURENNI- USINES (82, AUC CURIAL, PARIS-19; BLANC-MISSERON) (NORD)

Translated- OLD INSTITUTIONS, BARBIER, BENARD & TURENNI FACTORY (82, AUC CURIAL, PARIS-19; Blanc-Misseron) (NORTH) which is the manufacturers name and Paris address of production. The number 82116 is also engraved below and a series of cylindrical air vents in between.  The diameter of the lamp measures 5 1/2 inches. For more information on this lantern, follow the link here to the listing on Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery.

Post or Anchor lantern made by Barbier, Benard & Turenne, Paris France,
 Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery

The Company Barbier, Benard and Turenne, abbreviated BBT is a company founded in 1862 , specialized in the manufacture of headlights, the optical devices and lighting systems. Leader in the field of global flagship in the late 19th century, the company has diversified in the twentieth century, but was dissolved in 1982.

Fresnel lens produced by Barbier, Benard & Turenne
for the Sabine Bank Lighthouse,  Sabine River, Texas.
The company was founded in 1862 by Frédéric Barbier and Stanislas Fenestre under the name "Barber and Fenestre." She then called "Barber and Co." in 1887 and "Barbier and Benard" from 1889, and is in the early twentieth century to its final name "Barbier, Benard and Turenne." It became a public limited company in 1919. Production "Barbier, Benard and Turenne" or "BBT" began to specialize in the production of optical systems for lights , according to the system of Fresnel lense. The company then expanded its production, from farther away in the equipment headlights. In addition to its lens, it extends its first production at various rotation mechanisms, including weight and rotating tank on mercury . Then, it produces more buoys, steel towers, mermaids mist.  BBT thus comes to be able to construct the lighthouses in their entirety, including the tower, optical instruments and all necessary equipment. It becomes "known throughout the world". It is a world leader in the construction of lighthouses in the late 19th century. In 1923, the company developed the "gas BBT" which bears his name. This gas provides improvements in compression quality gas lighting and security.

The workshops are primarily located in Paris, close to the Ourcq canal. BBT then retains its headquarters in Paris, factories being located in Nazelles (Indre-et-Loire) and White-Misseron (North).

Sabine River Lighthouse, Texas

Top section of the Sabine River lighthouse tower and lantern room 
The Sabine River Lighthouse is one that houses a Fresnel lens produced by Barbier, Benard & Turenne.  Follow the link here for more information about the  Sabine River Lighthouse.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


The Skipjack Mariner bracelet is now available in three great NEW colors, royal blue, orange and neon green.
Add a splash of color to your wardrobe with Skipjack's Mariner nautical rope bracelet for men, women or children... the perfect accessory for your coastal lifestyle, now available in three NEW great nautical colors, royal blue, orange, and neon green!  Skipjack's affordable nautical bracelet features a reef knot tied with durable nylon cord with a rust proof shackle, making it easy to get on and off. Choose between a stainless steel shackle in two different sizes or a solid brass shackle. The Skipjack mariner bracelet is perfect for boaters, surfers, beach goers or anyone that enjoys being in or around the water- quick drying nylon and stainless steel shackle won't rust! Bracelets are available with small (7/8" long) or large (1-1/8" long) shackles.

The Mariner Nautical bracelet hand-tied in navy blue nylon and stainless steel shackle clasp.
Bracelets are sold by their actual length to the half inch. For best fit measure the diameter of your wrist with a cloth measuring tape or wrap a piece of string around your wrist and then measure the length of the string against a ruler. We have found most people select a bracelet 1" - 1-1/2" larger than their wrist size.

The Skipjack Mariner bracelet shown in red, pink and white.
Choose between stainless steel or solid brass shackle.

Please call or email for sizes smaller or larger than listed. You can call us at (757) 399-5012 during store hours, Monday-Saturday  10 am to 5 pm, Sunday 1 pm to 4 pm or Email us at  The Mariner bracelet  will easily ship in a Small Flat Rate box by USPS Priority Mail in the USA for approximately $5.25!  Follow this link here to Skipjack's Mariner nautical rope bracelet. Order one makes a great gift for the nautical enthusiast too! We recommend that you also preview Skipjack's complete line of nautical themed apparel and island inspired jewelry.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Commemorative Look at Schooners- the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race

America 2.0 at the beginning of the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, 2011.
Photo by Joe Elder aboard the Schooner Spirit of Independence.
     Olde Towne Portsmouth once again hosted the finale of the 23rd Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race  from Baltimore Mayland with 37 participating schooners. Here is a photographic study of these exceptional sailing vessels docked along Olde Towne's waterside. Enjoy!

An 18th century cannon stands sentinal  in front of the schooner "Mystic Whaler"
docked along side the High Street basin. Photo by Joe Elder.


Schooner "Adventurer" figurehead.
Photo by Joe Elder.
Schooner racing on the Chesapeake Bay is rooted in the trade rivalry between Baltimore, Maryland, at the northern end of the Bay, and Portsmouth/Norfolk, Virginia, at the southern end. The fastest sailing vessels delivered goods and people to their destinations and often garnered the best price for their cargo by beating slower schooners into port. Over the years, commercial schooner designs evolved for the bay's routes — taking into consideration shallow waters, local crops and regional needs, with speed being a primary concern to beat competitively loaded vessels into port. These schooners also played a critical role in our nation's early wars. While there are no cargo-hauling schooners now working the Bay, there are a considerable number of schooners still in use as cruising vessels and privately owned boats.

Wheel  from the schooner
"Liberty Clipper".
Photo by Joe Elder
In 1988, when the City of Baltimore launched her flagship modeled on those earlier vessels, Captain Lane Briggs of the TugantineNorfolk Rebel — the world's only sail-powered schooner-rigged tugboat — challenged the Pride of Baltimore II to a race from Baltimore to Norfolk, reviving an historic rivalry between schooners, captains and cities on the Bay. With the challenge accepted, the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race (GCBSR) was born.

In 1990, a weekend in October was set aside for what had become an annual event, and yacht clubs at the northern and southern ends of the race volunteered to support the schooners and crews in their efforts.

Schooners  at the High Street basin, Olde Towne Portsmouth. Photo by Joe Elder.
Bowsprit of the "Liberty Clipper".
Photo by Joe Elder.
Over the 21 years of the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, there have been some incredible races with schooners going to the wire to win. Harsh weather conditions in some of the races have tested the mettle of the vessels, crews and captains. As many as 56 schooners have signed up for a single race, and more than 150 — with vessels from as far away as California - have enjoyed the fall race on the Bay. The 2007 race was the fastest race in this long series. With strong following winds, several schooners set new records for both elapsed and corrected time. The schooner Virginia set a new time to beat of 11 hours, 18 minutes and 53 seconds, beating the previous record of 12 hours, 57 minutes and 51 seconds set by Imagine...! in the 2005 GCBSR.

Skylight binnacle and wheel  from the schooner "Adventurer".  Photo by Joe Elder.

Belaying pins. Photo by Joe Elder.
With the growth of the event and the resulting focus on these vintage sailing craft, the organizers and sponsors elected soon after the start of the event to maximize the value of the race in very special ways. The race brings focus to the maritime traditions of schooners on the Chesapeake and brings attention to the environmental issues facing the Chesapeake. All net proceeds of the race are donated to support youth education efforts aimed at saving the bay. This is why the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race is proud to say that we are "Racing to Save the Bay!"  History taken from the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race website.

Carved and gilded figurehead  of the schooner "Lady Maryland". Photo by Joe Elder.

Port light. Photo by Joe Elder.

Line wrapped around a belaying pin. Photo by Joe Elder.

Hawse pipe and  line. Photo by Joe Elder.

Schooner "Virginia" flies the  American flag from her stern. Photo by Joe Elder..

Deck view of the "Pride of Baltimore II". Photo by Joe Elder.

Ships bell of the schooner "Lady Maryland". Photo by Joe Elder.

Wheel of the tugantine "Norfolk Rebel".  Photo by Joe Elder.

Bow of the "Pride of Baltimore II". Photo by Joe Elder.

Skipjack Nautical Wares storefront is fronted by the bowsprit of the "Mystic Whaler."
Photo by Joe Elder.

Thank you to all of the participants and volunteers that make this such a memorable event. We hope to see you all again next year and until then, calm seas and following winds. From the staff at Skipjack Nautical Wares and all of us from Olde Towne  Portsmouth. Cheers!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Schooners of all types and sizes will be docked along Portsmouth's riverside Saturday,
October 13, 2012 as part of the 23rd Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. Photo by Joe Elder
They're schooners here, there and just about everywhere along our riverside and you won’t want to miss it. That’s right, this Saturday, October 13, 2012, the City of Portsmouth, Virginia hosts the 23rd Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race post race celebration. The world’s largest gathering of schooners will race again from Annapolis, Maryland to Portsmouth, Virginia, with nearly 40 entries in this year's race. They'll be schooners of all types and sizes docked along Portsmouth’s waterfront for you to view, with some open to the public.

The 23rd Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race from Annapolis, MD
to Portsmouth, VA. Photo by Joe Elder

 We also invite you to stop by (we'll, we're only a few steps away) and see all of the great new inventory here at Skipjack including ships wheels, new, vintage and antique lamps, lanterns and maritime lighting, WWII era U.S. Navy instruments, and all types maritime antiques. We've also received a large assortment of great nautical decor items including fish nets, netted colored glass jugs and float balls, brass cleats, bell ropes and sailor marlinspike knives from Myerchin. And, our classic Skipjack long sleeve shirts, crewneck and pullover hooded sweatshirts are available in all sizes and new colors too! You can check out some an assortment of our new arrivals by following the link here to Skipjack's NEW! JUST IN! section on our webstore.

Stefan Edick Skippers the "Schooner Virginia"
in appropriate yachting attire!  Photo by Joe Elder.

For more information, follow the link here to the 23rdAnnual GCBSR Official Race Program and here’s the link to the Great ChesapeakeBay Schooner Race website. Hope to see you here!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wildlife Carvings from California Artist Greg Pezzoni at Skipjack

Carved and painted yellowfin tuna by Greg Pezzoni.

Raised in Santa Barbara, on California's southern coastline until his early teens. Greg was exposed early to both fresh and salt water angling. Half day boats in the Santa Barbara channel and full day excursions to the city's famous wharf introduced him to numerous species, such as bonita, halibut, sheep head, sharks, rock fish and kelp dwellers of all kinds. A small lake within walking distance instilled his passion for largemouth bass fishing, while supplying mixed bags of bluegill, crappie and catfish. With back packing trips to the nearby Santa Ynez and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, Greg then added California's numerous trout species (including the coveted golden trout, California's state fish) to his fishing "have caught" list. Relocating to Kentucky, then North Carolina, enabled him to fish waters he had only read about. Carolina's famous outer banks, the Dan and New rivers of Virginia, and the TVA impoundments of the Smokey Mountains added striped & small mouth bass, bluefish, Spanish & king mackerel to the list. Having excelled in art since an early age, he has combined that gift with his love of the outdoors and angling, to create these highly realistic wooden relief carvings. Greg now resides just outside of the small town of Linden, Ca. on the Calavaras River, where he lives with the catch of his lifetime.

You can visit a selection of Greg's marine-wildlife carvings on our website by following the link here to Greg Pezzoni. at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery. We currently have a great selection of his whales to choose from including humpback, sperm and gray whales. These life-like relief carvings will certainly be highly collected and a perfect accompaniment to your coastal home. Shown above: A large white sperm whale and below, a humpback whale.

Carved from kiln dried pine, the pectoral and pelvic fins  are carved separately and added on to give the impression of a full bodied mount. Each piece is then sealed, primered, painted and then finished with several coats of high quality varnish. Greg uses high quality species correct taxidermist glass eyes in most of my carvings. The back is flat with a custom designed mounting bracket that allows you to angle the mount in any direction with only one hanging point. It also extends the mount out away from the wall giving it a more rounded three dimensional look.There are felt pads that allow this feature with no damage or scratches to your wall.

Greg's wildlife carvings is a great example of the type of marine art that you will find at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery. Here is a link to the marine art gallery department at Skipjack.