MastroNet Summer 2004
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on:
The American Turtle, so named because its spherical shape resembled two connected tortoise shells, was the world's first attack submarine. It was designed by Yale graduate David Bushnell (1742-1824), who had learned while in school that gunpowder would explode underwater. He set about to designing a one-man vessel that could carry and then discharge a rudimentary torpedo. The oak-and-iron submarine, with sufficient air supply for a half-hour journey, moved forward by its operator pedaling a propeller (much like a paddleboat) and submerged or surfaced by the turning of a hand-crank. After demonstrating his prototype for Silas Deane, Jonathan Trumbull and Israel Putnam, Bushnell's Turtle was approved for an underwater attack on the British in New York Harbor. Sergeant Ezra Lee (1749-1821) commanded the craft (Bushnell himself was too frail for the task), maneuvering it under the hull of the British 64-gun frigate Eagle. Unfortunately, his efforts proved unsuccessful: the torpedo mechanism malfunctioned. A later attempt, made before the Turtle was lost at sea, also proved futile. Both of the offered documents pertain to Bushnell and Lee's military service. Bushnell has signed his name and title ("D. Bushnell Capt. & Senior Officer in the Corps of Sappers & Miners") on a 6-1/2" x 9" ADS, dated Jan. 22 1783, which authorizes a military transfer for a soldier named Peregrin Gardner. A partially printed pay receipt for Gardner is also included. Lee's signature ("Ezra Lee Lt.") appears on a 4" x 8-1/2" ADS dated Dec. 9, 1780, which certifies that a soldier named Daniel Perkins is in Lee's regiment. A partially printed pay receipt for Perkins is included, as well. Bushnell and Lee's signatures grade "7-8" and the documents on which they appear display as Excellent with standard fold lines and general overall wear. LOAs from James Spence & Steve Grad and John Reznikoff/PSA DNA.
David Bushnell and Ezra Lee - The First War Submariners! (4)
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