New decal, Wing whaling flag View larger

Decal, Wing whaling flag

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decal featuring the House of Wing flag (whaling). Suitable for affixing to glass as the adhesive is on the front (printed) side.

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Joseph and William Ricketson Wing were from an old Dartmouth family with roots dating back to Stephen Wing. They were from an old Dartmouth family of seamen. The brothers began as ship's outfitters and branched out into owning whaling ships. At the height of its success Wing and Company owned 26 vessels. While the Wings saw the height of New Bedford whaling they were present at its end. J. & W.R. Wing & Company was established in 1849, the year the whaleship Charles W. Morgan (named and built for Captain Charles Waln Morgan) was sold to Edward Mott Robinson (grandfather of the infamous Hetty Green, “the Witch of Wall Street”). The Wing firm bought the Morgan in 1863 and owned the Morgan for fifty three years until 1916 – becoming the firm that owned the Morgan the longest.

The Wings lost some money during the Civil War years – some of it they were to regain as a result of a suit filed in the Alabama Claims. They also sold some of their surplus government for the war effort. These old ships were laden down with large field stone and scuttled in Charleston, Carolina’s harbor in an effort to create a blockade. Historically known as the “Stone Fleet”, the effort failed.

Under Wing ownership the Morgan made 27 voyages. In 1887, they wisely moved the Morgan to the West Coast to reach the Arctic bowhead whaling grounds easily from San Francisco.

Wise management and thrift saw the wealth of the Wings rise. Not only did they own their own ships, they owned the stores that provided clothing and wares for the crew as well as also supplying the food. Crew members had accounts and the clothes and food they purchased came out of their share in any profit. At times, at the conclusion of a poor voyage, some crew members ended up owing the company for the 2+ years at sea.

The Charles W. Morgan became the last wooden whaleship in the world. It is a lasting reminder of a once large fleet of ships that  would often ply certain areas of the sea and could pick out other Wing ships by sighting the high-flying House of Wing flag atop the highest mast. Most companies, especially those with several vessels, would have a house flag. Ships of like ports could pull up alongside others and exchange mail and other news of home.

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