HMCo #478s [Half-rater for A. J. Drexel]


Construction_Record_Title.jpgName: [Half-rater for A. J. Drexel]
Type: Half-rater Fin Keel
Designed by: NGH
Contract: 1896-6-24
Launch: 1896-7-21
Construction: Wood
LWL: 14' 5" (4.39m)
Beam: 4' 7" (1.40m)
Draft: 3' 9" (1.14m)
Rig: Gaff Sloop
Keel: FK
Ballast: Lead
Built for: Drexel, Anthony J. [John R. Fell]
Amount: $1,100.00
Note(s) in HMCo Construction Record: Moulds of #419

Note(s): Vessel information is primarily but not exclusively from the HMCo Construction Record. Supplementary information when not cited here usually appears elsewhere in this record with a complete citation.


Model #6

Model number: 6
Model location: H.M.M. Model Room East Wall

Vessels from this model:
12 built, modeled by NGH
#442s Houri (1894)
#443s Adelaide (1894)
#444s Vaquero I (1894)
#445s Dorothy (1894)
#446s Alerion II (1894)
#447s Celia (1894)
#453s Vaquero II (1895)
#454s Lagofa (1895)
#457s Osprey (1895)
#458s Mist (1895)
#478s [Half-rater for A. J. Drexel] (1896)
#496s Spook (1898)

Original text on model:
"21' WL of 1894 (No. 442, 443, 444, 445, 447 28' 446 ALERION 2 scale)
1895 (28' WL 453 VAQUERO 15" scale ________ 12" scale, 454 LAGODA 19' 6", No. 457 OSPREY 15' 7" WL,
1896 458 27' WL, 478 15'7" WL 1/2 RATER" (Source: Original handwritten annotation on model. Undated.)

Model Description:
"#442 Houri, 21' lwl fin-keel sloop of 1894. Also used for #443 Adelaide, #444 Vaquero, #445 Dorothy, #447 Ceila, and with scale change for #446 Alerion, 28' lwl of 1894, #453 Vaquero II, 26' lwl of 1895, #495 Lagofa, 19'6" lwl of 1895, #457 Osprey, 14'5" lwl of 1895, #458 Mist, 27' lwl of 1895, and #478, 14'5" lwl half-rater of 1896." (Source: Bray, Maynard. 2004.)

Related model(s):
Model 1109 by NGH? (1897?); sail, not built
{?}: Fin Keel???

Note: Vessels that appear in the records as not built, a cancelled contract, a study model, or as a model sailboat are listed but not counted in the list of vessels built from a model.


Nathanael G. Herreshoff

"[1896-06-24] Wed 24: Have order for 15-footer, #478 [Half-rater for A. J. Drexel].
[1896-06-27] Sat 27: Set up frames of #478 [Half-rater for A. J. Drexel].
[1896-07-21] Tue 21: Delivered half-rater to Mr. Drexel [#478s]." (Source: Herreshoff, Nathanael G. Diary, 1896. Manuscript (excerpts). Mystic Seaport Museum Collection. Manuscripts Division, call number VFM 1555.)

Other Contemporary Text Source(s)

"A new fin keel sloop, built for John R. Fell of Philadelphia at Herreshoff's, was launched Tuesday [July 21, 1896], and was given a satisfactory trial in the harbor. Her dimensions are 18 foot waterline, 23 feet overall, 5 foot beam and 4 feet 6 inches draught, including fin. Mr. Fell came to Bristol in steam yacht Barracouta of Philadelphia and towed the new fin keel boat down to Newport astern of the steam yacht. [Barracouta was a brigantine-rigged steam yacht, 134.7ft LOA, built in 1869 by Nillus & Son in Havre, France and owned by Mrs. Sarah Drexel Fell, as per the 1896 American Yacht List. Sarah Drexel (1860-1929) was Anthony J. Drexel's daughter and the wife of John R. Fell.]" (Source: Anon. "Bristol and Vicinity." Bristol Phoenix, July 24, 1896, p. 2.)

"... A Herreshoff half-rater owned by Colonel A. J. Drexel has been added to the fleet of the Corinthian Yacht Club. ..." (Source: Anon. "The Margarita Has Sailed." New York Herald, August 27, 1896, p. 13.)


From the 1920 and earlier HMCo Index Cards at the MIT Museum
  • Note: The vessel index cards comprise two sets of a total of some 3200 cards about vessels built by HMCo, with dimensions and information regarding drawings, later or former vessel names, and owners. They were compiled from HMCo's early days until 1920 and added to in later decades, apparently by Hart Nautical curator William A. Baker and his successors. While HMCo seems to have used only one set of index cards, all sorted by name and, where no name was available, by number, later users at MIT apparently divided them into two sets of cards, one sorted by vessel name, the other by vessel number and greatly expanded the number of cards. Original HMCo cards are usually lined and almost always punched with a hole at bottom center while later cards usually have no hole, are unlined, and often carry substantially less information. All cards are held by the Francis Russell Hart Nautical Collections of the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Mass.
From the 1931 HMCo-published Owner's List

Type: J & M
Length: 14'5"
Owner: Drexel, A. J.

Source: Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. "A Partial List of Herreshoff Clients." In: Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. Herreshoff Yachts. Bristol, Rhode Island, ca. 1931.

From the 1930s L. Francis Herreshoff Index Cards at the Herreshoff Marine Museum
  • Note: The L. Francis Herreshoff index cards comprise a set of some 1200 cards about vessels built by HMCo, with dimensions and / or ownership information. Apparently compiled in the early 1930s, for later HMCo-built boats like the Fishers Island 23s or the Northeast Harbor 30s are not included. Added to in later decades, apparently by L. F. Herreshoff as well as his long-time secretary Muriel Vaughn and others. Also 46 cards of L. F. Herreshoff-designed vessels. The original set of index cards is held by the Herreshoff Marine Museum and permission to display is gratefully acknowledged.
From the 1953 HMCo Owner's List by L. Francis Herreshoff

Name: N/A
Type: 14' 5" J & M
Owner: A. J. Drexel
Row No.: 799

Source: Herreshoff, L. Francis. "Partial List of Herreshoff-Built Boats." In: Herreshoff, L. Francis. Capt. Nat Herreshoff. The Wizard of Bristol. New York, 1953, p. 325-343.

From the 2000 (ca.) Transcription of the HMCo Construction Record by Vermilya/Bray

Month: June
Day: 24
Year: 1896
E/P/S: S
No.: 0478
Name: 1/2 rater?
LW: 14' 5'
B: 4' 7"
D: 3' 9"
Rig: J & M
Ballast: Lead
Amount: $1100.00
Notes Constr. Record: Moulds of 419
Last Name: Dupel?
First Name: A. J.

Source: Vermilya, Peter and Maynard Bray. "Transcription of the HMCo. Construction Record." Unpublished database, ca. 2000.

Note: The transcription of the HMCo Construction Record by Peter Vermilya and Maynard Bray was performed independently (and earlier) than that by Claas van der Linde. A comparison of the two transcriptions can be particularly useful in those many cases where the handwriting in the Construction Record is difficult to decipher.

Link to the Herreshoff Registry

The Herreshoff Registry can be particularly useful for researching the provenance of Herreshoff-built sailing vessels. Permission to link to the Registry is gratefully acknowledged!

Research Note(s)

"Built in 27 days (contract to launch; equivalent to $41/day)." (Source: van der Linde, Claas. January 1, 2018.)

Note: Research notes contain information about a vessel that is often random and unedited but has been deemed useful for future research.


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Herreshoff Catalogue Raisonné.
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Citation: HMCo #478s [Half-rater for A. J. Drexel]. Herreshoff Catalogue Raisonné.