Master Carpenter’s Certificate / Measurement Certificate (1853)

American Maritime Documents 1776-1860

Stein, Douglas L. 1992

Master Carpenter’s Certificate

Usually a brief printed document, found in various sizes. The form often included the phrase “___do certify that the ___named the ___was built by me or under my direction at ___during the year __for ____….” Title of the certificate and the port of issue was usually printed at the top. A rather plain document with little or no engraving. Stamps or seals seldom appear, and customs officials’ signatures were not required.

This document was procured from the customhouse once the construction of a new vessels was finished. It was filled out and singed by the builder or carpenter, and contained spaces to record the vessel’s name, measurements, the place and year of construction, and the names of the original owners. The vessel could then, if necessary, by moved from where it was built to where it was to be registered or sold. In fact this document was required before any registration or enrollment could be issued, since it established a ship’s origin and ownerhship.

Measurement Certificate (Certificate of Admeasurement)

Printed document. Size and format may vary, but the title “(Certificate of Admeasurement),” and the issuing port’s name is often printed near the top. Certificates are rather plain, with an absence of decorative engravings, stamps or seals. Many examples include the phrase, “I___being hereunto appointed by ___Collector of Customs for the District of ____, do certify that I have surveyed and admeasured a ____having the name of _____…” The signature of the surveyor is usually present.

A measurement certificate officially established a vessel’s tonnage and measurements. It provided the physical description needed In order to obtain a register or enrollment. A new measurement certificate was required whenever a vessel underwent some change in her measurement, rig or other alteration that affected her tonnage, so that a revised registration could be issued to the vessel’s owners. The document was filled in and signed by a qualified surveyor appointed by the customs collector. The measurement certificate was often reproduced as part of a vessel’s Bill of Sale, and the information recorded on other maritime documents like registers and enrollments.

Master carpenter's certificate

A Master Carpenter’s Certificate and Certificate of Admeasurement were often printed on a single document. Illustrated is a certificate executed at Mattapoisett, Massachusetts for the new ship Reindeer, June 6, 1853.