Pilot Boat No. 1 has been a favorite painting in our marine collection for some time. It was with great pleasure that we were recently able to identify the pilot boat in this beautiful painting signed lower right “Knight 1870.” We had thought she looked like a Boston pilot boat, but she actually is the “Thomas Howard,” built in 1870 by William Cramp & Son for the Philadelphia Pilots’ Association, so the painting was done in her first year in pilot service. She was the finest and fastest pilot boat of the Philadelphia port. She was 79′ 2″ long, with a beam of 20′ 6″, a draft of 7′ 6″ and a displacement of 51 tons. Her pilots were James A. Orton, Marshal Bertrand and Jacob Teal.
In 1886, she became Delaware pilot boat, as Delaware’s laws allowed pilots to charge higher rates. As a Delaware pilot boat she was identified on her sail as “No. 3.”
She went out of pilot service in 1897, at which point she was sold for $1,400 and converted to a fishing boat.
The painting had been in a private Maine collection for many years. It is in its original gilt frame. It was cleaned recently by Peter Williams of Boston, MA. It has no restoration or repairs.