Friday, January 16, 2009

New Scotland



Darned if I know!

Since my last post concerning the search for the maker or meaning of the SN float's cachet or maker's mark, there have been two very good emails sent to me concerning the mark.
The first is from Richard, who is the "hunting buddy." that Bob mentioned in his email to me concerning the possibility that the SN mark stands for the company, National Sea Products.

Richard said this:

Hi Tom,
I enjoyed reading your blog, and see you're working on the NS mystery.
I actually purchased my NS float in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia where the
sales lady told me it meant "National Sea". I think the lady was just
guessing, since the huge fish cannery there, now defunct, could never
have been supplied by glass float nets. However most of these floats
seem to come from the Northeast, not the UK or Norway.
Richard

He also jogged my memory by telling me that, "Nova Scotia," also meant "New Scotland."

Today, I received an email from a good friend, author and great glass float collector, Stu Farnsworth. Stu wrote this:

Funny thing about the NS float is that Charles (Abernethy) was the one that told me the Anchor floats and the Beautiful NS floats were from Scotland as both of his came from a Fisherman that used them in the Shetlands. So that is really all I ever had to go by under the feeling that a guess was better than not knowing at all, and once research was done, the real answer would come up.
I still would have a hard time believing that NS stands for Nova Scotia, but hey what do I know? I think that comes way too easy, and why would they come from Norway {where I got one several years ago}, and why would a Fisherman use them in the Shetlands? I know Nova Scotia was rich in fishing and it seems like the Northwest floats show up there all the time, and yes, I do see Euros from there, but I also have seen ones for sale in Nova Scotia that were from England {Made in Englands} and F1, F2 etc., etc., etc., that are from Norway.
Stu

So, here we go again. The conundrum we glass float collectors' encounter in our desire to find answers to the history, which is often solved by guesswork, speculation, deduction and extrapolation. It is so very hard to get a straight historical confirmation about these darn float embossings.

I want to go back to Richard writing, "Nova Scotia means New Scotland."

"Nova Scotia," is Latin for "New Scotland." In the late 1700's through the 1800's, many Highland Scots emigrated to Nova Scotia. Today, people of Scottish descent make up the highest percentage of the Nova Scotian population. The people of Nova Scotia are nicknamed, "Bluenoses". If you research the symbols of the country you will see a definite Scottish influence including the tartan print. This country was fished by all of the European fishing nations, as well as Canadian, American and possibly the Japanese fishermen too.

Fishing started very early in the history, definitely by the native Indian people, then later by the Vikings, followed by the French and so on. The shoal waters all along the Nova Scotian coastline were extremely rich in coldwater fish. The commercial fishing took place over a period of hundreds of years, until the coming of huge factory trawlers which supplied the ever increasing need for fish to feed the world's masses of people, animals and for commercial products, destroyed the fish populations. Finally, those waters and the fish were protected by international laws, and the days of heavy commercial fishing on all of the banks ended.

During the commercial fishing years all methods of fishing were applied in the Nova Scotian waters. My research shows that most of the glass floats used there were used on trawling nets. Cod, Herring and Shad were caught using gillnets with glass floats attached, but the terrific change between high and low tides, and the strong currents on the shoals made it much more difficult to use gillnets. The use of glass floats on the nets started in the late 1800's, and continued until possibly the 1960's, with most of the use between 1900 and 1950.

Those trawl nets were snagged on ship wrecks and reefs. Sable Island is famous for the great number of shipwrecks under its surrounding waters. It is on the reefs that the cod, halibut, hake, and other fish came to feed.

Nets were lost, and their glass floats were set free to eventually break upon beaching in the rocks, or to land safely. Many thousands were lost, and thousands were picked up by people living and fishing there. All of the countries who's fishermen netted those waters lost gear. That to me is part of the explanation for Stu's question of why such an array of floats are found in Nova Scotia.

Floats were most likely found and reused by fishermen. All gear cost money, and if you can find something and reuse it for free, why not! Floats may have been traded as well. Why are SN floats found in other countries? One thing that comes to mind when I speculate on that question, has to do with a bit of history concerning floats that were at one time on the properties of people in Scotland.

In one of Charles Abernethy's glass float booklets, He wrote about being told that there were piles of glass fishing floats just laying on people's properties for decoration. He hoped that one day his acquaintance in Scotland would send him a box filled with European floats. Sadly, that day never came. His contact told him that before he had a chance to get him some floats, antique buyers from Ireland suddenly decended on Scotland, and bought up all of the piles of floats. There are many possible reasons why floats find there way around the world. It does appear though that there have been a larger number of SN floats found in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the Northeastern Atlantic States than elsewhere.

Until that definitive answer to the question of cachet "SN," appears, my guess will be that cachet SN means "New Scotland." I like the way the S is the larger letter, which may have appealed to the heart of the engraver for his homeland, Scotland. And I like the way the S intertwines with the N sensuously, the way two lovers do.

The photo of the fishing and racing vessel, "Bluenose," is from the Wikipedia site on Bluenose.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Tom, I guess Stu's comment are very close to facts
    (((As Stu said, "a guess is better than not knowing at all, and once research was done, the real answer would come up." Until that definitive answer to the question of cachet "SN," appears, I'm going to go with it meaning "New Scotland." I like the way the S is the larger letter, which may have appealed to the heart of the engraver for his homeland, Scotland. And I like the way the S intertwines with the N sensuously, the way two lovers do.
    )))
    and the NS float looks like a typical UK/Scotland or maybe French made float to me.
    I'm visiting Scotland in July 2009 and will look for answers among fishermen on the west and east coast.
    Per

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