Charles G. Davis Collection

Manuscripts Collection 253

Overview of the Collection

Repository: G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Davis, Charles G. (1870-1959)
Title: Charles G. Davis Collection
Dates: 1890-1950, 1989
Extent: c. 3,000 items
Abstract: Manuscripts of Davis’s published and unpublished works, including several journals written and illustrated by Davis of various yachting cruises and races; published materials as well as personal correspondence, contracts, tax records, and sketches relating to pieces written either by or for Davis, including pages from Yachting, Forest and Stream, and Outing Magazine; notes and newspaper clippings relating to certain yacht races, including some sponsored by Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club; ship model papers, including his notes, specifications, photographs, and other relevant information collected and used by Davis in the repair and building of his many ship models; and notes, correspondence, photographs, and employment information regarding the American Bureau of Shipping, 1941-1944.
Identification: Coll. 253

Biography of Charles G. Davis

C. G. Davis
C. G. Davis

Charles G. Davis was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. on July 22, 1870, and died in Manor Haven, Port Washington, N.Y. on January 22, 1959, aged 80. His father was clerk to Admiral David G. Farragut, Union Naval Commander during the Civil War. He began his love of boats and sailing at an early age; he is reputed to have sailed around Cape Horn in a square rigger at the age of thirteen. He and his older brother, William, built their own boat in 1884, cruising the Hudson and Western Long Island Sound in her before purchasing, refitting and racing an old sandbagger.

In 1889 he went to work in New York as a draftsman for William Gardner, the Clydeside Scots steam yacht designer, and filling in on a job at T.R. Webber’s boat shop where he began to do some independent designing. His eyesight became affected and in 1892 he signed on as an AB on the Bark JAMES A. WRIGHT out of Boston for a trip around Cape Horn to Chile. After another year in Gardner’s office, he again went to sea in the J. PERCY BERTRAM in the West Indies trade. Upon his return from this trip, he began to design racing boats for Webber and later for Larry Huntington in New Rochelle, N.Y.

About 1898 he joined the staff of The Rudder and was its design editor for several years. At the outbreak of World War I he joined the Elco Boat Builders, managing their plans at Halifax, N.S. and Montreal where wooden submarine chasers were being assembled for England. In 1917 he became general manager of the Trailer Ship Building Corporation at Cornwells, Pa. supervising the building of wooden steam, and after the War he became associated with the United States Maritime Service. From 1925 to 1927 he was in retirement in St. Petersburg, Florida, but returned to Port Washington to work as a draftsman under A. Couch for Toms & King, Inc.

In 1935 Davis again retired. He moved to Cazenovia, N.Y. and began building ship models, many of which are on display in the Stillman Building at Mystic Seaport. In 1940 he was called out of retirement by the Navy to become head hull inspector for wooden PT boats and minesweepers at the Nevins, Jacobs and United Shipyards at City Island, N.Y. He retired for a third time at the end of World War II.

He was a charter member of the Cruising Club. He was also an enthusiastic and skillful racer of small boats, and often enlisted his sons, Theodore and William, to crew for him. As an author, he wrote many technical articles for Yachting, The Rudder, Motor Boat and other magazines, as well as several books on sailing ships and ship models. He is said to have made detailed drawings of every Navy sailing ship built. His pen and ink sketches, ranging from old square rigged vessels to modern racing yachts, are sprinkled throughout his writings in this collection.

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Scope and Content

The Charles G. Davis Papers contains approximately 2400 pieces of material either created or collected by Davis and arranged into 5 categories.

The largest series, “Manuscript Articles and Books by Charles G. Davis,” includes the manuscripts for Davis’ published along with unpublished works and related papers. The manuscripts, typescripts, and illustrations in this series are arranged alphabetically by title. Of special interest are several illustrated manuscript journals of various yachting cruises and races. This series is contained in boxes 1 through 4.

“Published Article Copies,” located in box 5, contains published articles by Davis, clipped from Yachting, Forest and Stream, and Outing Magazine. These are arranged alphabetically by publication title.

“Miscellaneous items written by or regarding C. G. Davis,” located in box 5 and part of box 6, contains personal correspondence, contracts, and tax records and Davis’ sketches. These are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

The series “Yacht Club Race Information,” contains Mr. Davis’ notes and newspaper clippings regarding certain yacht races. These are filed chronologically and located in box 6.

“Ship Model Papers,” in box 7, is comprised of Davis’ notes, specs, measurements and other relevant information collected and used by him in the repair and building of his many ship models. This series also contains photographs of ship models. These are arranged alphabetically by title.

“Charles G. Davis Papers Regarding the American Bureau of Shipping: 1941-1944,” located in box 8, contains Davis’ notes, correspondence and employment information for the years 1941-1944, as well as U.S. Shipping Board ( became the U.S. Shipping Bureau in 1933) photographs of World War I era shipyards and shipbuilding. This series is comprised of a large gift given to the Museum in 1996, and an earlier gift of 250 pieces originally cataloged as Collection 192 “Charles G. Davis Papers.”

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Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division.

Restrictions on Use

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Corporate Entities:

American Bureau of Shipping
Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club


Boats and boating
Naval architecture
Ocean travel
Ship models
Voyages and travels
Yacht racing

Document Types:

Journals (accounts)
Tax records


Authors, American Boatbuilders–United States
Cartoonists–United States
Marine artists–United States
Naval architects–United States

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 253, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.


Manuscript articles and books; 1884-1932
Box Folder
1 1 “Across Long Island Sound in Launch T. R. WEBER” – manuscript, illustrated; 1913 Feb 23
2 Brigs — manuscript fragments; n.d.
3 “Carved Wooden Sail Ship Models”; n.d.
4 “Clipper Ship LIGHTENING” — manuscript; n.d.
5 “Copper for Sheathing A Vessel” – typescript; n.d.
6 “The Cruise of the FREYJA” – (2) manuscript, illustrated, blueprint; 1893
7 “The Cruise of the PORGIE” – manuscript, illustrated; 1889
8 “The Cruise of the RAMBLER” – manuscript, illustrated; 1889
9 “Early Clipper Ships” – manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
10 “Gloucester Fisherman” – manuscript; n.d.
11 “A Greenhorn’s Voyage Around the Horn” – manuscript, 9 volumes; n.d.
12 “How to Design a Yacht” – manuscript, illustrated; 1931
13 “How to Draw Ships” – manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
14 “How the Canada’s Cup Was Won in 1899” – manuscript; n.d.
15 “Hudson River Sloops” – manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
Box Folder
2 1 “The Larchmont Cruise” – manuscript, illustrated; 1893 Jul 2
3 “Line-of-Battle Ships” – manuscript; n.d.
3 “Model Yachting” – manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
4 “MONTEZUMA” – manuscript; n.d.
5 “Odd Boats and Men” – manuscript; n.d.
6 “Old Sailing Ships of the United States Navy” – manuscript; n.d.
7 “Old Ships” – manuscript; n.d.
8 “Packet ships” – manuscript and notes; 1923
9 “Recollections of America”s Small Yachts; with plans of 341 of them” – typescript; 1932
10 “Recollections of America’s Small Yachts; with 206 plans” – typescript; 1932
11 “Recollections of America’s Small Yachts” – typescript; 1932
12 “Recollections of Boats and Boatbuilders about New York, 1884-1914” – manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
13 “Recollections of Boats and Boatbuilding” – typescript; n.d.
14 “Recollections of Some Small Sailboats” – manuscript; n.d.
Box Folder
3 1 “Recollections of a Yachtsman” – manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
2 “Rigging Ship Models” – manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
3 “Round the Horn Before the Mast, Bazil Lulbock” – manuscript; n.d.
4 “Sailing Ships of the American Navy; 1776-1850” – manuscript; n.d.
5 “Sailing Ships of the U.S. Navy” – 2 copies, typescript; n.d.
6 “Schooners” – manuscript; n.d.
7 “Ship Model Builder’s Assistant” – manuscript, illustrated; 1926
8 “Ship Models and How to Build Them” – manuscript; 1925
Box Folder
4 1 “Ships of the Past” – manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
2 “Sketches of Various One-Design Class Boats”- manuscript; n.d.
3 “Small Sail Boats”- typescript; n.d.
4 “Steam Whaler GRIB”; c. 1932
5 “The Trial Races at Chicago”- manuscript; n.d.
6 Untitled manuscript about sailboats – manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
7 Untitled – manuscript fragment; n.d.
8 “A West Indies Voyage” – manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
9 “Wood Sail Models of Ships”- manuscript, illustrated; n.d.
10 “Wood Ships in North Atlantic Trade” – manuscript, typescript; 1919 Sep 30
11 “The Yacht Race Cruise” – manuscript, illustrated; 1893
12 “Yacht Races-Old and Modern” – manuscript, illustrated; 1893-1907
Published article copies; 1890-1915, 1989
Box Folder
5 1 Forest and Stream articles; 1907-1908
2 Motorboat articles; 1910-1915
3 Outing Magazine article; n.d.
4 “Rigs of the Nine Principal Types of American Sailing Vessels,” by C. B. Davis (published by the Peabody Museum, Salem, Mass.); 1989
5 Yachting articles; 1890
6 Yachting articles; 1897
7 Yachting articles; 1908, 1915
Miscellaneous items written by or regarding C. G. Davis; 1893-1894, 1906-1953
Box Folder
5 8 Brodie, Warren James – “Holiday Greetings”, booklet illustrated by C. G. Davis; 1928
9 Christmas Card (Printed) from Mr. and Mrs. Davis, unsigned; 1928
10 Contract Draft between C.G. Davis and The Rudder Publishing Company for Rights to How to Design a Yacht; 1906 Aug 4
11 Correspondence to C.G. Davis; 1892-1957
12 Linder, Gertrude – correspondence, and estate papers; 1944 – 1953
13 Lists: “Clippers and Packet Ships”; 1926
14 Lists of Packet lines; n.d.
15 Lists of Packet ships; n.d.
16 Misc. Printed Material; 1907-1937
17 Misc. sketches and dimensions, etc., re. small boat construction; 1902
18 Misc. sketches and notes by C. G. Davis; 1902 – 1929
19 Notebook; 1917
20 Notebook pages containing measurements and data for small boats; n.d.
21 Notes on ships in the American Revolution and other misc. notes; 1931
22 Notes on ship lines; n.d.
23 Notes on Want Line; n.d.
24 Pages from a Drawing Book, “Sketches of PELICAN’s Buzzards Bay Cruise”, by C. G. Davis; 1894 Jun – Jul
25 Portfolio of ship photographs (copies, originals removed to Curatorial Department); n.d.
26 Publicity flyers for “Some Famous Sailing Ships and Their Builder; Donald McKay” and “Of Yachts and Men”, both books illustrated by C. G. Davis.; n.d.
27 Sketches of small boats and yachts; 194 – 1935
28 Tax Records; 1944
29 “Vere Foster’s Drawing Copy-book — Marine”; 1893
Box Folder
6 1 Watercolor sketches; 1911 – 1916
2 Yacht ROMANIA, account & photos of her attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean; 1911
Yacht club races; clippings, notes, etc.; 1892-1930
Box Folder
6 3 Yacht Club Races; clippings, notes, etc.; 1892-93, 1907, 1911
4 Yacht Club Races; clippings, notes, etc.; 1913
5 Yacht Club Races; clippings, notes, etc.; 1914
6 Yacht Club Races; clippings, notes, etc.; 1915
7 Yacht Club Races; clippings, notes, etc.; 1921
8 Yacht Club Races; clippings, notes, etc.; 1922, 1927, 1929
9 Yacht Club Races; clippings, notes, etc.; 1930
Ship model papers; 1922-1939
Box Folder
7 1 Correspondence with Franklin Institute (Philadelphia, Penn.) about ship models; 1938
2 Diary: Boucher Inc. Model Building Company; 1922
3 “Etchings of Mallory Clipper Ships,” (copies, originals removed to Curatorial Department); n.d.
4 Model ships memorandum book; 1924-1927, 1933
5 Notes and correspondence about Mallory shipbuilding (Mytic, Conn.) and ship models; 1923
6 Notes and misc. data re. ship models; n.d.
7 Notes re. early naval vessels; n.d.
8 Notes re. FAIR AMERICAN model restoration; 1933
9 Notes re. Figureheads; 1937
10 Notes re. A 60 GUN SHIP model restoration; 1934
11 Notes re. ROYAL FREDERICK model restoration; 1933
12 Notes re. Sandbaggers; 1911 – 1912
13 Notes re. SEA WITCH (Ship); 1925
14 Notes re. shipbuilding and ship models; 1911 – 1936
15 Notes, specs, drawings and house flags of various vessels; 1934
16 Photo album of Ship Models (copies, originals removed to Curatorial Department); 1935
17 Photograph of U.S.S. CONSTITUTION ship model (copy, original removed to Curatorial Department); 1939
18 Photographs of ship models; 1936
19 Print of portrait of unidentified ship (copy, original removed to Curatorial Department); n.d.
20 Spar dimensions of U.S. Men of War; 1930
21 Woodcut prints of naval ships; n.d.
American Bureau of Shipping papers; 1917-1919, 1941-1944
Box Folder
8 1 U.S. Shipping Board photographs of shipyards and shipbuilding (copies, originals removed to Curatorial Department); 1917-1919
2 Correspondence, notes, specs. etc.; 1941 – 1945
3 Correspondence, notes, specs. etc.; 1942
4 Correspondence, notes, specs. etc.; 1943
5 Correspondence, notes, specs. etc.; 1944
6 Employee information re. Charles G. Davis; 1941-1948

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