Commonwealth Model Sings Again! (sort of)


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A couple years back I wrote a blog about our wonderful music box model of the steamboat Commonwealth; read that HERE.   Just a quick background on it, the model was made ca 1864 by John Dean Benton, who worked for Tiffany & Co.  The model was presented as a retirement gift from the Norwich and New London Steamboat Company to the Captain, Jerome Wheeler Williams, who had never had any major mishaps in his career.  Ironically, Commonwealth caught fire and sank the year after Captain Williams retired.

Steamboat Commonwealth, ca 1864

One thing I had mentioned is that we had a recording of the music on an old Echo-Matic tape that we hoped to have digitized sometime in the future as we can no longer play the music box itself.  Earlier this year Cindi looked into companies that could do this for us and she found George Blood Audio.  This morning they sent us the digital file and it is awesome!  We know that two of the songs are “Nellie Bly” and “By Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon”.  We are currently unsure what the other songs are, so if anyone has an idea, please let us know.  Enjoy!

One thought on “Commonwealth Model Sings Again! (sort of)”

  1. Captain Fried would take part in another sensational rescue exaclty three years later under conditions similar to those (although more severe) that had wrecked the Antinoe. In January 1929 he was in command of the liner America when a distress call was was received from the Italian freighter Florida. Fried quickly turned his ship around and headed to the scene. Placed in command of the lifeboat that was to lead the rescue of the Florida’s crew was chief officer Harry Manning. Ultimately all thirty-two of the Florida’s crew, as well as the ship’s cat were rescued. Manning would later be given command of the superliner s/s United States in 1952 and would take the ship across Atlantic on her record breaking maiden voyage. As for Captain Fried was later later accorded the great honor of commanding the new luxury liners Manhattan and Washington when these ships made their maiden voayges in August 1932 and May 1933 respectively. As had been the case for the Antinoe, Captain Fried and his crew were given a second ticker-tape parade through the streets of Manhattan and both he and Manning would later appear in several magazine advertisements selling coffee and other products- in an effort o cash in on their celebrity.