Mahogany and oak presentation ship wheel, probably Canadian or American, 1848. The wheel has a beautifully turned hub with a heavy brass ring around the outer diameter and a raised circular plate covering the front of the hub. The hub is deeply engraved 'STR. FOREST QUEEN 1848 UNION LINE.' There are two matching brass plaques applied to opposite sides of the wheel. The upper plaque has the engraved presentation which states 'This is the wheel that '.A.E. Prince of Wales, assisted in steering the steamer on his excursion to Fredericton 1860.' The lower plaque states 'A.E. Prince of Wales Excursion Trip on River St. John up to F'ton Aug. 4th Down To St. John 7th 1860.' Both plaques have beautifully engraved borders and decorative accents. The wheel has eight beautifully turned oak handles and spokes. On the face of the wheel below each spoke is a fancy brass inlay and between each fancy inlay is a diamond shaped inlay. Flanking each diamond inlay in a triangular pattern are three bungs. The wheel is one of the fanciest and well constructed ship wheel we have examined. Given the historical significance of the wheel, it was probably removed from the ship, the plaques were applied and a metal circular mounting plate was applied to the rear of the wheel so it could be secured to a wall. At that time a 5 inch turned post was applied to the top of each wheel spoke just below the face of the wheel. These posts have acorn turned tops and bowling pin shaped shafts. It is likely that these posts were used to hang hats and jackets. (FA-1007)
Condition: The wheel has a beautiful age patina. There are a few typical age cracks around the hub. One of the turned posts has been replaced. The back of the wheel has a dark stain covering the inlay. The wheel is in generally excellent condition with a warm age patina.
Note 1: The Forest Queen was a steam ship that plied the St. John River between 1848 and 1867.
Note 2: Queen Victoria and her husband Albert in 1860 sent their son Edward Prince of Wales when he was 19 to the United States and Canada. He was the first member of the British Royal family ever to visit North America. Huge celebrations welcomed him wherever he went and crowds followed him in the streets. The visit prompted warm diplomatic relations between Britain and the United States, which quickly ended with the onset of the Civil War.
Note 3: The New York Times August 4, 1860 indicated that the prince went onboard the Forest Queen with members of the legislature and the press. A map was printed titled 'Map of the Route of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.'
Provenance: This wheel was in the collection of Jean E. and Joseph G. Sawtelle and is illustrated in their book titled 'MARITIME PORTSMOUTH The Sawtelle Collection' edited by Richard M. Candee.
Dimensions: Diameter 48 inches; Depth 7 3/8 inches.