Exemplary pair of mahogany carved gangway boards that were probably used on board a vessel of the United States Navy attributed to the master carver, John Hale Bellamy. Gangway boards were large decorative plaques that lined the opposite sides of the ship’s gangway (the walkway providing passage to the ship) located around the middle of the hull. Each of the matching gangway boards has the typical shape with an arched top, lined with brass with applied brass “rope rings” on opposite sides. Each carving is rounded on one bottom corner and straight on the other. One gangway board has a deep raised carved eagle perched on an American shield flanked by two carved American flags, above draped curtains at the bottom. The other has a deep relief carved spread winged eagle with carved wavy ribbons flowing from each talon and a large carved Indian warrior below standing on rocks holding a tomahawk. All the uncarved flat surfaces of the gangway boards have a stipple even surface throughout. This is a method Bellamy used on the the pairs of gangway boards he made for the USS Enterprise and other carvings with flat surfaces. The eagle and shield gangway boards has many distinctive features. 
The left facing gangway board features an eagle perched on the shield and has several distinct details. Above the eagle is an array of incised five pointed stars and on the sides below the wing tips are additional stars totaling 13. All the stars internal surfaces are smooth which contrast with the stipple surface surrounding them. The eagle’s left facing raised head is very well articulated with raised detailed eye and pronounced brow that sweeps back from the eye and down the neck with a defined open beak holding a folded ribbon that expands left and right and then turns down and has a split end. The eagle’s wings are raised and the carved feather on the wings is stylistically different in style than the feather carving on the neck and chest. The legs have similar style leg feathers, and the tail feathers are carved at an angle and located behind the right leg. The eagle’s claws and talons are raised clutching the top of the American shield. The shield has a serpentine shaped top and sides that wind around and come to a point at the bottom. The shield is divided into two sections with an incised double band. The top section features 13 smooth five-pointed stars. The lower section has 12 vertical stripes with alternating dark and light stained sections. The surface of the shield has a slight wave like roll to its shape going from top to bottom. Flanking the shield are a pair of American flags set an angle facing out. Each flag has a spear shaped pediment with a draped pair of cords with tassel ends. The canton of each flag has multiple rows of five pointed stars. The flag is folded and the stripes with light and dark adjacent stripes wrap around and terminate along the surface of the shield. Below the shield are a pair of draped and folded raised carved curtains. 
The right facing gangway board features at the top a spread winged eagle with his neck turned facing left. The eagle’s head is well detailed with highbrow with defined eye and beak. The beak is holding a ribbon that flows left and right and then turns down with split ends. Encircling the eagle are 13 incised five-pointed stars similar to the stars on the other gangway board. Below the eagle is a deep relief carved figure of an Indian warrior holding a tomahawk and standing on a hill of carved rocks. The Indian is wearing a detailed bear claw necklace and a feathered headdress.

This pair of gangway boards have the finest quality of carving and subject matter. The carved eagles, Indian, patriotic flags and stars classify these carvings as excellent examples of patriotic American folk art and at the pinnacle of the ship carvers art.
Reference 1: “American Eagle The Bold Art & Brash Life of John Haley Bellamy” by James A. Craig, published 2014 by Portsmouth Marine Society Publication, number 34. pages 71-75. Pictured are two pairs of gangway boards by Bellamy from the USS Enterprise. One of the larger boards has the ship’s name “ENTERPRISE” near the rounded top. There are many very similar carved themes and similar carving techniques to the gangway boards described above.
Reference 2: “John Haley Bellamy Carver of Eagles” by Yvonne Brault Smith, published by Portsmouth Marine Society, publication I, 1982, page 36 shows a photograph of Bellamy’s studio. In the photo is a Bellamy eagle with wings up, head turned, and below an American flag and shield. The composition very similar to the eagle on the left flanking gangway board.
Dimensions: Height 49, Width 29, Depth 3 ¾ inches
Provenance: Collection of the late Rear Admiral Richard A. Kern (1891-1982)                                                                        Dr. Richard Arminius Kern received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1914. He served in World War II in the South Pacific and was involved in the battles of the Coral Sea and Guadalcanal. He ended his service on the staff of Admiral Halsey as Chief of Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Naval Hospital of Philadelphia. Kern was active in the Naval Reserve and served the Department of Defense on a number of missions and key committees. He was president of the Society of Medical Consultants in the Armed Forces and the Association of Military Surgeons of the US. Two portraits of him are included with the photos of the gangway boards.

Attribution: The following information regarding Bellamy's ship carving of gangway boards and work for the US Navy should make the case very clear that there is a very strong probability that the naval gangway boards described above were created by John Hale Bellamy around 1860-1875, for an unknown naval vessel while he was working at either the Charlestown or Portsmouth Navy Yards. Almost all of Bellamy’s associations throughout his life were or had been linked with the US Navy.  Bellamy spent the entire Civil War working for the Navy. By 1864, Bellamy is listed in the “Charlestown Directory” as boarding at 29 City Square, Charlestown and working specifically as a ship carver at the Charlestown Navy Yard. From cathead, billetheads and figureheads, no facet of American warship decorative carving was beyond his reach. Two important examples of Bellamy’s naval work that are on display for the public are Bellamy’s masterpiece huge eagle figurehead from the ship USS Lancaster which is in the collection of the Mariners Museum and Gardens in Newport News, Virginia and a sternboard for the USS Wabash. Moses Victor Stafford a long and close associate of Bellamy wrote about a pair of Bellamy gangway boards “What especially appealed to me as a boy when visiting his workshop at the navy yard were these elaborate carvings on mahogany panels which formed the sides of the gangways in the bulwarks of an old wooden navy ships. I understand that Bellamy carved them to be shipped to other yards.”