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American Ship Master's Certificate of Competency 1867

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Historical American Ship Master's Certificate of Competency 1867

This Maritime Relic Has Been Sold. Thank you!

HISTORICAL ANTIQUE
AMERICAN SHIP MASTER'S CERTIFICATE OF
COMPETENCY 1867

 
Framed ship master certificate image
 
This is a fine quality official certificate of America's early maritime history awarded to a Civil War veteran Union captain. It is perfect for the serious collector of nautical documents.
 
PICTURES WERE TAKEN THROUGH GLASS
Framed size 15 3/" x 12 "                                               Viewable area 13 1/2" x 9 7/8"
 

Presented

is a rare document awarded to a prominent ship captain attesting to his competency. It is only the second of its type we have come across since 2005. Then engraved document, has a chain link border with hawse pipe at the top two corners. "American Ship Master's Association " is engraved on the upper portion of the certificate with the Serial No. 4129 in the upper left. Below, on the right, is an engraving of a full-rigged ship under storm canvas to the right, New York. May 22nd, 1867. New York was home of the Association and site of the professional examinations which are recorded sideways on the left side. Centered is the name of the Spiro V. Bennis over AN APPROVED SHIP MASTER. The signature of the certificate holder was required, as were the signatures of various officials of the society. In this case, the certification of passing the exam on May 22, 1865 signed by B.A. Sheldon, Examiner in Nautical Science, and countersigned by W.W. Story, Examiner in Seamanship. Under the word "COUNCIL", there are there partially legible signatures across the center, and below what is believed to be signatures of Ambrose Snow and  Geo. W. Blunt and below those of P.H. Upton, Sec and J.D Hones, Pres. (George W Blunt was the founder and owner of the famous nautical instrument and publishing company which bore his name). There are four beautifully engraved pictures interspersed around the signature fields, three of which depict sailors at various work, and one a resting female with trident. 
 
 
Unframed ship masters Certificate image
                          Unframed certificate showing intricate engraving and council officers
 
CAPTAIN SPIRO V BENNIS was a Civil War Navy veteran and sea captain who saw service in the Civil War as acting master of the USS Antona, USS Aroostook & USS Stockdale, all of which operated mostly in Mobile Bay. He also took part in the Fish River expedition of 1864. Afterwards he served as captain of the New York & Cuba Mail Steamship Co's., SS Niagara before she was requisitioned by the U.S. Navy to serve in the Spanish American War. In August 1985,Captain Bennis rescued the crew of the German Bark Caroline Suzanne during a violent storm off the coast of Florida. He was awarded a gold watch by Emperor William for his heroic serviced. After this he was put in charge of building two steamships for the Ward Line in Delaware. The NY&CSC was a subsidiary of the Ward Line whose operations dated back from 1840 to 1954. He died in 1892 in California.
 
CONDITION:   In good overall condition with some discoloration to the paper and fading of the ink. The engraving is sharp and clear and the signatures vary in clarity because of differences in penmanship. However, most of the officials are well documented and can be identified from the associations records. penmanship.  An unframed  photocopy of the framed picture as as shown below is included.
 
 

Professional certifications in navigating and seamanship image

Name of Ship Master image

                                Full size sections of certificate showing details and signature

            An unframed copy of this picture of Captain Spiro V. Bennis is included

HISTORY, YESTERDAY & TODAY:  The American Ship masters' Association was organized in 1861 to improve the American Mercantile Marine Service and the general skill and moral character of those attached to the seaman's profession. Licenses had been issued intermittently by the United States Steamboat Inspection Service, but no continuous effort had been made to insure the skill and character of ship masters until John D. Hones, one of the signatories on the above certificate, called together maritime insurers, shipbuilders, government officials and maritime experts to form the American Ship masters' Association in 1861. The ASA began issuing certificates to qualified mates and masters of sailing vessels even before its incorporation in 1862, receiving the first application from Captain Isaiah Pratt in September 1861. To receive a certificate, seamen had to meet rigorous requirements, including six years experience at sea and a high score on the nautical science and seaman ship examinations administered by the ASA. Applicants also had to produce testimonials to their good character. Ship masters whose qualifications were exceptional were designated "extra matters." Each certificate was valid for one year and could be renewed annually. Seamen retained their ASA numbers for life; no number was ever reissued to another man. The engravings and ornamentation varied throughout the years that these Certificates were issued.

While ASA certificates were not officially required of ship masters, they did serve as recommendations to ship-owners. A vessel with an ASA-certified master was more likely to find favorable insurance coverage than one whose master was not listed in the ASA's Register of Approved Ship masters. The ASA continued its program of certification until 1900, by which time Federal law required that most ship masters be licensed by the federal government of the United States. It then became known as the American Bureau of Shipping which is still in existence.
 
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