Lot 327 of 395:
ALs 1845 ‘Sea Serpent’ skeleton on New York display  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$168
$250 - $350

Autograph Letter Signed - 1845 ‘Sea Serpent’ skeleton on New York display

Albee, O.W.

New York


Aug. 20, 1845


3 pp. + stampless address leaf.

To Mrs. M.A. Albee, Marlborough, Massachusetts: “……Though I found here well on towards an half a million of people I was never more alone…I visited the Battery last evening which with its hundreds of lamps among the trees looked very much as I have fancied a fairy land might look…I next stepped into little Castle Garden…to see the experiments…electricity is produced by steam and in such quantity as would instantly strike a man lifeless if he should receive it… I then went to the Apollo buildings where there is exhibiting the greatest wonder that naturalists have ever discovered. Dr. Koch calls it the Hydrargos…It is about 100 feet long, the bones are a good state of preservation. I here made the acquaintance of Dr. Koch of Dresden, of Prof. Silliman, Mr. Locke, the writer of the famous Moon Hoax and other scientific gentlemen… I was perfectly delighted with the conversation and amply paid for all the attention I have devoted to Geology…This monstrous skeleton was found in Alabama, everybody here who has seen it believes in the existence of the sea serpent. The bones now petrified were imbedded in Limestone …It lay when found in a coiled position [drawing]…Prof. Silliman has agreed to write a notice of it for the N.York papers… Dr. Koch…has christened the creature Sillimania…” Albee was a young Boston artist and school teacher who later became a California Forty-Niner during the Gold Rush before returning to Massachusetts to serve in the state legislature during the Civil War. The “sea monster” he viewed, in company with renowned Yale Chemist and Geologist Benjamin Silliman and Richard Adams Locke, a New York journalist who had once invented the hoax of a vast civilization discovered on the moon, was the brainchild of Albert Koch, scientific huckster and owner of a St. Louis museum, who had assembled his 114 foot-long skeleton by skillfully piecing together bones from five different fossil specimens he had excavated in Alabama, giving them the appearance of the single huge skeleton of a 50 million year-old sea “serpent”. Koch did indeed christen his purported “serpent“ Hydroargos Sillimani, until Professor Silliman demanded that his surname be removed from  the pseudo-scientific title. The skeleton remained on display in the US and Europe for the next 25 years

Lot Amendments

A bit of yellowing; very good.

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