Art and Artifacts

The Witch of the Wave

The Witch of the Wave was a Portsmouth-built clipper ship that holds to this day the record for the fastest sail from Calcutta to Boston—a journey made in just 81 days.  This model was built by George Raynes in 1851, and is one of two half-hulls in the Athenaeum collection that includes a figurehead.


HMS America

Built in 1748 or 1749, this model was most likely built on the same Portsmouth shipyard as the HMS America.  With moveable cannon port covers, elaborate hull detail, and the figurehead of a lion, the America model was the first item in the 1830 Athenaeum inventory.


Sir Peter Warren

An important figure in the Siege of Louisbourg in 1746, Sir Peter Warren cuts an imposing figure in this portrait by John Smibert.  A companion portrait to that of Sir William Pepperrell (which hangs in the Peabody-Essex Museum), the portrait of Sir Peter greets visitors when they enter the Athenaeum through the downstairs Reading Room.


Treaty of Portsmouth Chair

On September 5th, 1905, the Japanese and Russian contingencies signed a peace treaty that brought an end to the Japanese-Russo War.  This treaty (mediated by then-president Theodore Roosevelt) was signed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, at exactly 3:47 PM.  This particular chair was sat in by Baron Komura (who led the Japanese delegation during the conference).


Pair of Holster Pistols

With early firearms, it was important to make each shot count, since early pistols such as these only had the ability to fire one shot before they had to be reloaded.

Because of this, it was not uncommon for pistols to come in pairs, so the user would have an extra shot before the gun needed to be reloaded.  This handsome pair of holster pistols (made by James Barbar of London) is said to have belonged to Sir William Pepperrell.


About the Art and Artifacts Collection

A diverse and eclectic collection, Art and Artifacts includes paintings, furniture, ship models, ethnographic and archaeological objects, and a wide array of other assorted artifacts of local historical relevance.  While the collection includes everything from a small but significant selection of South Pacific artifacts to half-hull models of ships built in nearby shipyards, the goal of the Art and Artifacts Collection is to represent the history and aid the study of the Piscataqua region and the Athenaeum itself with a strong focus on maritime history.