Deep Dive: Exploring the Collections

Hand-Painted Thomas P. Warren Mug


This mug belonged to Captain Thomas P. Warren of Southampton. Captain Warren was the son of the legendary whaleman, Thomas E. Warren, affectionately known as Uncle Thomas. Young Thomas was born in Southampton in 1851 and by 1895, the 5’7” tall Thomas had made numerous whaling voyages, several as a Master.


Image from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 06, 1896.

However, by 1895, the whaling industry was in decline, with the last whale ship leaving Sag Harbor in 1870. After several unsuccessful voyages, Thomas wanted one more successful voyage before he retired at age 45. So Thomas and his boyhood friends, James and Steven Larry, left Southampton on February 4, 1895, searching for riches. They reached Honolulu on February 18th, where he and James joined the whaling steamer Belvedere out of New Bedford and bound for the Arctic Ocean. Steven Larry decided to try his luck in Sacramento, California. Although Thomas had commanded his own ships, on this voyage he would only command one of the Belvedere’s smaller whaleboats. The Master of the Belvedere must have been happy having another experienced boatman on board.


After spending the winter of 1895-96 in the Arctic, the Belvedere prepared to head home in the fall of 1896. It had been a successful voyage so far, with several whales taken. Whaling could still be profitable, but it was dangerous work. On October 14th, an immense bowhead whale was sighted and harpooned. In its struggle for life, it struck the whaleboat of Thomas and James with its tail flukes, smashing the whaleboat into splinters. The whale’s tail also broke Captain Warren’s thigh and breast bones, inflicting massive internal injuries. He died in a few hours. His best friend James Larry was also killed.

Thomas left behind a 40 year-old widow, Anna (Annie Overton), and a 9 year-old son, Thomas. After her husband died, Anna moved to Brookhaven to live with her mother and later moved to Elm Street in Southampton. She died in 1935, four days after her 79th birthday, and is buried with her mother in Yaphank.


The marking on the base of the mug, “D & Co”, indicates that it was made by the French porcelain maker Delinières & Co. established in 1863 by Rémi Delinières in Limoges. Unpainted Limoges porcelain, known as blanks, were produced in France and exported to the United States. Once in America, the blanks were sold to professional decorating factories or to department stores for amateur artists to purchase and hand paint. In the late 1800’s, porcelain painting became a popular pastime for American women. It is speculated that this special mug may have been painted by Anna Warren for her husband.

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