Featured WW2 Submarine Relic

Discussion in 'Militaria' started by Desertau, May 21, 2024.

  1. Desertau

    Desertau Active Member

    This came from my grandfather he gave this to my dad in the late 1950’s, something that he picked up that probably didn’t sell and was discarded by Butterfields auctioneers. The Submarine is Bluefish 222 a Gato class submarine, there is considerable information on Admiral Christie, Captain Porter and Bluefish 222 on various missions on the internet, a Google search led me to this book on submarine war fair in the South Pacific and a section on the Submarine taking this exact same compass describing the battle in detail with the presentation to the Admiral.
    IMG_2024-05-21-154534.png IMG_2024-05-21-154329.png IMG_2024-05-21-154439.png

    im not really a military collector but have kept this all these years since I’ve owned it not willing to risk a sale less than the compass stories value to me.
  2. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    the item rocks !!
    discarded by a well known auction house........... less so.
    Desertau likes this.
  3. Desertau

    Desertau Active Member

    I kinda get why they threw it out although it seems absurd now, but no one valued this stuff or wanted it back then.

    I remember going through army surplus stores in Northern California with my dad in the late 50’s and early 60’s they were nothing like the shops of today. There were bins of surplus equipment, tools, decommissioned weapons, Jerry cans on and on carts n trailers and vehicle parts… rifles, swords and other items, helmets canvas items, nothing recreational and no blue jeans. This was all stuff fresh from the military and as I recal dirt cheep.

    it was also against regulations for them to take this although tons of stuff was, but might explain why the Admiral discarded it?
  4. Desertau

    Desertau Active Member

    Shipments came into Butterfields in large wooden tea boxes. These boxes had metal reinforced edges and metal corners and were lined in a silver foil and pink tissue the boxes had a very distinctive smell from the tea and then old estate items from their repurposing. I also remember they had stencils in black ink with Chinese lettering. My grandfather took us to his garage a vast space to a 5 year old filled with item awaiting transit in and out of the auction house, inside Butterfields the hallways and stairwells littered with theses large tea boxes filled with unwanted stuff, old vertical toasters, odd medical devises tons of antique kitchen utensils, ephemera… I had a Geo Taylor signature on a contract letter from Butterfields I later sold at Bonhams and Butterfields same basic auction house then at a different location, discarded first and later sold for $11k.
    Last edited: May 21, 2024
    komokwa likes this.
  5. bosko69

    bosko69 Well-Known Member

    Desert-I was going thru Army Surplus stores in N. Cal in the late 50's too (Sonoma,Napa & Marin Counties). Mountains of WWII treasure for 50 cents to 5 bucks,but then we made a quarter mowing & trimming a lawn !
    PS-Did your Grandpa work at Butterfields & who was George Taylor (sorry for my ignorance) ?
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  6. Desertau

    Desertau Active Member

    They were good friends and he did shipping and transit work for them as an outside contractor.

    Geo Taylor is the 3rd most rare Declaration of Independence Signor for collectors.
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  7. Sedona

    Sedona Well-Known Member

    That is very cool!
    Desertau likes this.
  8. Desertau

    Desertau Active Member

    [QUOTE="bosko69, Mountains of WWII treasure for 50 cents to 5 bucks,but then we made a quarter mowing & trimming a lawn !

    A quarter mowing a lawn, lol.. my first job was in 1970 I made $1.40hr + $2-$5 in tips bussing tables and washing dishes, we didn’t have any lawns where I lived growing up but picking prunes got ya 50 cents a box and my friends dad would pay similar for cutting apricots and times were pretty damn wonderful, (So was that fruit) ha ha.
    Marote and komokwa like this.
  9. bosko69

    bosko69 Well-Known Member

    Yep,before Sonoma & Napa had the wine grapes we had prunes & apples and we picked lots of those to get school clothes.
    Great Geo Taylor tale-what a find.God,if knew 1/100th back then abt collecting,prices were absurd & very few knew much of anything re antiques (cut glass & doilies).
    Desertau likes this.
  10. Desertau

    Desertau Active Member

    It was luck on google finding a hit on the name just like the compass, the contract banged around in drawers and boxes for years and lots of people told me these letters were common and not valuable.

    when I emailed Bonham and Butterfields at first they emailed back and rejected it, I had to call and point out who they were rejecting, the agent apologized and explained she haven’t had her coffee yet, lol. Later Christie’s really wanted it but I’d already committed.
    Marote likes this.
  11. bosko69

    bosko69 Well-Known Member

    For all we denigrate AI & Lens,it can help. More so though sites like this one-some FB groups too.
    Desertau likes this.
  12. Tiquer

    Tiquer Well-Known Member

    So great to see you preserving it! Hope you have someone special lined up to guard it when the time comes to pass the torch!
    Desertau likes this.
  13. springfld.arsenal

    springfld.arsenal Store: http://www.springfieldarsenal.net/

    I collect stuff just like that, if u still have it, keep me in mind.
    Bookahtoo and Desertau like this.
  14. Desertau

    Desertau Active Member

    Thanks for the interest. Should the time come I’ll keep you in mind. I’m not a collector of military stuff but it’s a cool piece, it looks nice sitting on the bar and it doesn’t take up much real estate.

    In the past I’ve thought about selling even sent pictures to auction but getting a value is tough there aren’t many items like this with this kind of provenance sold if any really, best they could come up with was a starting point around $1500 an see where it goes from there. I like the story and am not in need at this time anyway, so I’m afraid I’d regret it.
    Potteryplease and komokwa like this.
  15. springfld.arsenal

    springfld.arsenal Store: http://www.springfieldarsenal.net/

    Here’s my favorite sub artifact, I’ll find a photo
    Bronze Capstan from USS CARBONERO (SS 337)

    In 1975, decommissioned fleet submarine USS CARBONERO (SS 337) was designated as the target submarine for a live-warhead test of the then-new Mark 48 submarine torpedo. USS MOCTOBI (ATF 105), a seagoing, “fleet tug” was assigned to tow CARBONERO to the test operation area off Hawaii. MOCTOBI’s officers inspected the sub inside and out as required to ensure she was ready for towing. The executive officer was concerned that the large, bronze forward capstan, used for taking in mooring lines, might interfere with rigging the towing bridle, so he removed it and had it turned in to the submarine base supply office. After the test he visited that office and asked what they did with such material. The reply was that certain items “screened” as not re-usable were sold at a monthly property disposal auction. Out of curiosity he attended the next auction and saw the same capstan in a “lot” with some other brass/bronze objects. Thinking it might make a nice souvenir he bid and won, then sold the unwanted items to the local scrapyard. The capstan is marked on top near the center, in three lines: “CARBONERO, 337, FWD.” There are still small barnacles attached to the underside of the capstan, and it retains small patches of a special dull black paint used on submarines. Dimensions: Diameter: 24.5 in., Height, total: 25.5 in., Height of above-deck drum: 16 in. (Private collection, Philadelphia, PA.)

    A comprehensive history is here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Carbonero_(SS-337)

    Many photos are here: http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08337.htm
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  16. springfld.arsenal

    springfld.arsenal Store: http://www.springfieldarsenal.net/

  17. Desertau

    Desertau Active Member

    Cool item and great story, thank you for sharing it, might be helpful for me hopefully in there are comparisons both items are WW2, they have great stories and both have excellent provenance. The differences I can’t really evaluate not being a collector, if you don’t mind what is your appraisal of the Capstan, how much do you value the story?
    Boland likes this.
  18. Boland

    Boland Well-Known Member

    Cool story!
  19. springfld.arsenal

    springfld.arsenal Store: http://www.springfieldarsenal.net/

    I really can’t separate the two, but the bottom line on it is $22500. Family has another item, fully documented with papers from National Archives, priced at $250k, FOB Alexandria, VA. This cannon is the only survivor of the dozens of Union cannons at the first battle of Bull Run, 1861. It was captured there and fought with the Confederacy until recaptured on April 5, 1865. On this item the provenance accounts for the better part of the price.

    magazine article with the research: https://www.flickr.com/photos/189102681@N07/shares/c137ao4aTk
    Desertau likes this.
  20. Desertau

    Desertau Active Member

    Thank you so much for the information, the Civil War Cannon is incredible and off in another league I’m not surprised at the valuation. The Capstan I expected to see impressive numbers but it is significantly more by at least 2 to 3 times my guess.

    The story on mine is good, it’s such an odd mention in the book it could even be the inspiration for the cover, as the sub recovered prisoners and the compass from the blazing tankers lifeboat. I know when I read the passage it immerses me in the scene of the battle, the excitement of the hunt executing their plan and the aftermath the heat and glare of the flames and strong smell of burning diesel oil.

    why I’ve been unwilling to test it at auction, it is I feel something special. Now as special as the Capstan I have no idea they are both apples to apples and yet apples to oranges at the same time to me. But it does reinforce my intuition a little.

    thank you again, food for thought.
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