Bringing an artifact home

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It was recently learned that a unique artifact originating with Newfoundland and Labrador is now in possession of an individual (not a museum) in the United States.

I feel, as do several other citizens of our province, that it should and could be brought back to our people.

In 1869 the brig Magic of St. John's rescued the crew of the sinking Othello in the mid-Atlantic. In July of that year, Magic's captain, John Jennings Winsor, was awarded an engraved telescope by the British Board of Trade - the engraving giving the date, Capt. Winsor's name, the ship's name and so on.

However, that telescope, either through legitimate antique dealers or through the family perhaps residing in Canada or the United States, now rests in a private collection and is available.

It has been determined that Capt. Winsor's origins were in England, but he came to live in Aquaforte - and perhaps later St. John's - where he and his wife, Elvina (Chafe) of Petty Harbour, raised several children: Daniel Jennings Winsor, born in 1850; Frederick George Winsor, 1853; John Arthur Allan Winsor, 1858. It is known Frederick George married Mary Ann Whalen of St. John's in 1875.

Do relatives remain?

My questions (and of several others now involved in the genealogy of the Winsor family, and the brave tale of rescue and reward): are there any descendants of Capt. John Winsor around today?

Are there others, people or institutions, interested in bringing the engraved telescope in its leather-bound case back to our province?

The full story of Magic's telescope can be found in my book "Through Dangerous Waters," but that is not the purpose of my writing. I feel we can bring the telescope back to its rightful place.

Robert C. Parsons

Organizations: British Board of Trade

Geographic location: United States, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Canada England Aquaforte Petty Harbour

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Recent comments

  • Steven windsor
    January 17, 2013 - 19:38

    My family is from Aquaforte and has been since the 1800's. I would like to have some more info and a contact name or number / e-mail address. (Maybe of Robert parsons?)

  • Winston adams
    January 15, 2013 - 14:49

    Robert, any idea if it is for sale and the cost? Winston Adams 7266512.

  • Don II
    January 13, 2013 - 12:37

    The existence of this artifact with a Newfoundland connection could be brought to the attention of the Government of Newfoundland. The Government, instead of offering to buy the artifact for its real financial value, could write an official and very sweetly worded invitation letter to the current owner of the artifact inviting him/her to visit the Province to display the artifact to the public. The unsuspecting sucker...ah...owner of the artifact would likely accept the Governments friendly invitation and would travel at his/her own expense to the Province with his/her artifact. Upon his/her arrival in the Province, the Government would then seize the artifact from the owner under the authority of the Historic Resources Act. The Government would then challenge the owner of the artifact to try to get it back by taking the Government to Court. The owner would then spend thousands of dollars in legal fees trying to recover his/her artifact but the Newfoundland Court would rule in favor of the Government of Newfoundland. What am I thinking...the Government of Newfoundland would never do such an underhanded and highly unethical thing....would it? Well... there was this lost US bomber aircraft that some American fellow found a few years ago. The Government of Newfoundland took him to Court and tried to seize the plane from him claiming it was an historic artifact found in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Fortunately for the American fellow, the Canadian and American laws of salvage trumped the Historic Resources Act of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government had to let the American chap keep his plane that he had spent a lot of time and money to find in the first place.

  • mom
    January 13, 2013 - 09:30

    Does the provincial museum have something set up to raise funds to bring home local artifacts? If there was an account people could donate to when items like this come up for auction it would be a win win situation. The people would have a tax write off and even though the museum would not win every auction they would be able to bring home more local artifacts. If there is already such an account I hope that it will be publicized more.