G.W. Blunt White Library

Statement of Profits and Losses for the Ship
Charles W. Morgan, 1863-1913


This Bulletin supplements, but does not replace, Information Bulletin 66-1.

Barring accident or some natural calamity, longevity was an expected characteristic of whaling vessels because of the careful manner in which they were constructed and the quality of materials from which they were built. The fact that they were not normally driven hard, as were the clipper ships and packet ships, contributed to their life expectancy. Several vessels were engaged in whaling for longer periods than was the Charles W. Morgan, but probably no other whaling vessel's history is so well documented as is that of the Morgan. A previous Bulletin (67-1) explained in detail the costs of constructing and outfitting the Morgan for her first voyage. The account books of Charles Waln Morgan reveal the profits or losses of the vessel through about 1856. These figures will be presented in a future bulletin. During fifty of her eighty year career as an active whaler, the Morgan was under the management of the firm of J. & W. R. Wing & Co. of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Among the records of that firm in the Free Public Library in New Bedford are four volumes of accounts for the Morgan between 1863 and 1913. In these volumes are recorded every penny spent on the vessel and every cent earned by her for fifty years. During this period she sailed on twenty seven voyages out of New Bedford and San Francisco. In addition to this "dollars and cents" economic history, there are logbooks, journals, or reminiscences in existence in various libraries for nearly every one of the Morgan's thirty-seven voyages.

Perhaps some explanation is in order for the various entries in the statement of profits and losses given below. Charges for outfitting include all foodstuffs for the use of officers and crew, slop chest articles, all repairs done on the vessel in preparation for the next voyage, all items needed to carry on whaling, such as boats, lances, harpoons, casks, etc., and anything else put on board the vessel or done to her to prepare her for sea. Credits to the vessel during outfitting include the sale of empty casks, old whale boats, old rigging and sails, old chronometers and compasses, etc. The cost of outfits to the owners is the amount they were actually charged, that is, the difference between the charges against the vessel and the credits to her. Each owner was assessed a certain portion of the cost equivalent to his share of ownership of the vessel; for example, 1/16 of the cost for 1/16 share of ownership. When oil and bone were sent home in other vessels, the freight charges were deducted before the lays of the crew were cast and the owner's shares were apportioned. Other expenses include coopering, gauging, discharging, insurance, wharfage, storage, etc. In addition to the oil and bone sent home or brought back in the vessel, she was credited with the sale of provisions, casks, whaling implements, etc. to other vessels at sea. She was also credited with interest paid on the proceeds of oil and bone sent home and sold prior to the arrival of the vessel which took it. Expenses incurred during the voyage include additional provisions purchased at foreign ports or sent out to the vessel from New Bedford, any repairs to the vessel that could not wait until she returned home, and the lays paid to the officers and crew. The balance due the owners is merely the difference between expenses and total credits. Profits or losses are the differences between balance due the owners and cost of outfits due the owners. Each owner was given a share of the balance due in proportion to his share of ownership in the vessel. Of the twenty-seven voyages made by the Morgan under the management of J. & W. R. Wing & Co., seventeen were profitable ones while ten were losing ones.

A great many factors entered into the amount of profits made or losses sustained by the owners on any given voyage. It will be seen that some of the voyages on which there was a good catch the profits were large and on others they were small. The expenses of operating the vessel for the single- season voyages out of San Francisco between 1886 and 1904 fluctuated between about $2,500 and over $14,000. During the same period, outfitting costs fluctuated between less than $8,250 and over $17,000. Also during this time, the total credits to the vessel varied between a low of $11,400 and a high of nearly $41,500. It would seem then, that the secret to making money in whaling was to keep outfits and expenses at a minimum and still obtain a maximum catch. When this was done, handsome profits were received. When the opposite was true, extensive losses were suffered.

Because the length of the several voyages treated in this Bulletin varied so greatly, average costs and profits per voyage would not be particularly meaningful. Realizing, however, that some type of average figures might be useful, it was decided to present them as yearly figures. Thus the outfitting costs, total credits, and total expenses for each voyage were added up and divided by fifty. The losses were subtracted from the total profits, and this figure was likewise divided by fifty. When the average annual expenses and outfits were subtracted from the average annual credits, the average profits came out to be exactly the same as the figure for average annual profits derived from dividing the net profits by fifty.

The dates below refer to the dates of the voyages of the Morgan while she was under the management of the firm of J. & W. R. Wing & Co. Page numbers and account book numbers refer to the four volumes of accounts in the records of this firm which deal exclusively with the Morgan. Records of this firm include similar information for many other whalers managed by the firm, but none of them seem to cover so long a period as do those of the Morgan.

Again we wish to thank Mr. Reginald B. Hegarty, Curator of the Melville Whaling Room at the Free Public Library in New Bedford for his kind cooperation and assistance. Without ready access to the records of J. & W. R. Wing & Co. in Mr. Hegarty's custody, this Bulletin could not have been prepared.

 

 1863-1867, Account book number 1, pages 1-7 and 45-49

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 12-12-63

 $28,948.08

 Less credits during outfitting

 693.18

 Cost of outfits to owners

 20,254.90

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

 58,125.16

 Other credits during voyage

 4,247.74

 Total credits

 62,372.90

 Expenses during voyage

 29,061.21

 Balance due owners 8-5-67

 33,311.69

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

 $5,056.79



 1867-1871, Account book number 1, pages 50-53 and 106-111

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 8-10-67

$35,182.23

 Less credits during outfitting

 1,119.41

 Cost of outfits to owners

 34,062.82

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

54,975.52

 Other credits during voyage

1,269.91

 Total credits

56,245.43

 Expenses during voyage

24,446.23

 Balance due owners 11-30-71

31,799.20

 

 Owners' losses on voyage

$2,263.62



1871-1874, account Book number 1, pages 112-115 and 168-177

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 10-31-71

$29,930.78

 Less credits during outfitting

1,777.96

 Cost of outfits to owners

28,152.82

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

76,297.18

 Other credits during voyage

6,516.89

 Total credits

82,814.07

 Expenses during voyage

22,959.78

 Balance due owners 3-23-75

59,854.29

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$31,701.47



1875-1878, Account book number 1, pages 178-183 and 240-247

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 5-21-75

$29,950.89

 Less credits during outfitting

1,553.27

 Cost of outfits to owners

28,397.62

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

31,563.99

 Other credits during voyage

1,738.01

 Total credits

3,302.00

 Expenses during voyage

14,357.34

 Balance due owners 9-14-78

18, 944.66

 

 Owners' losses on voyage

$9,452.96



1878-1881, Account book number 2, pages 2-5 and 54-69

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 9-27-78

$22,343.54

 Less credits during outfitting

1,104.10

 Cost of outfits to owners

21,239.44

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

47,588.59

 Other credits during voyage

5,549.89

 Total credits

53,138.48

 Expenses during voyage

23,266.48

 Balance due owners 9-24-81

29,872.00

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$8,632.56



1881-1886, Account book number 2, pages 70-73 and 126-137

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 8-1-81

$21,855.41

 Less credits during outfitting

882 08

 Cost of outfits to owners

20,973.33

 

 Sales [estimated?] of oil and bone, less expenses

45,334.21

 Loss for over estimate

667.32

 Total credits

44,666.89

 Expenses during voyage

17,220.81

 Balance due owners 2-23-87

27,446.08

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$6,472.75



1886-1887, Account book number 2, pages 138-143 and 166-171

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-8-87

$23,511.95

 Less credits during outfitting

827.15

 Cost of outfits to owners

22,684.80

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

33,645.70

 Other credits during voyage

2,677.91

 Total credits

36,323.61

 Expenses during voyage

11,033.37

 Balance due owners 10-11-88

25,290.24

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$2,605.44



1887-1888, Account book number 2, pages 172-175, 192-193, and 206-209

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-20-88

$11,531.46

 Less credits during outfitting

1,261.38

 Cost of outfits to owners

10,270.08

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

20,327.21

 Other credits during voyage

1,078.27

 Total credits

21,405.48

 Expenses during voyage

5,325.48

 Balance due owners 10-24-89

16,080.00

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$5,809.92



1888-1889, Account book number 2, pages 188-191, 204-205, and 210-213

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-15-89

$11,405.61

 Less credits during outfitting

1,457.93

 Cost of outfits to owners

9, 947.68

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

23,752.49

 Other credits during voyage

1,667.84

 Total credits

25,420.33

 Expenses during voyage

6,721.38

 Balance due owners 3-10-90

18,698.95

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$8,751.27



1889-1890, account book number 2, pages 232-241

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-30-90

$21,547.21

 Less credits during outfitting

616.39

 Cost of outfits to owners

11,930.82

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

13,583.89

 Other credits during voyage

339.33

 Total credits

13,923.22

 Expenses during voyage

2,562.58

 Balance due owners 5-5-91

11,360.64

 

 Owners' losses on voyage

$570.18



1890-1891, Account book number 2, pages 244-247 and 268-271

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 2-10-91

$13,315.82

 Less credits during outfitting

1,293.84

 Cost of outfits to owners

12,021.98

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

29,669.49

 Other credits during voyage

1,323.88

 Total credits

30,993.37

 Expenses during voyage

9,076.56

 Balance due owners 7-20-92

21,916.81

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$9,894.83



1891-1892, Account book number 3, pages 2-5 and 23-29

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-20-92

$16,064.08

 Less credits during outfitting

230.45

 Cost of outfits to owners

15,833.63

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

10,643.97

 Other credits during voyage

757.69

 Total credits

11,401.66

 Expenses during voyage

2,878.11

 Balance due owners 6-1-93

8,523.55

 

 Owners' losses on voyage

$7,310.08



1892-1893, Account book number 3, pages 30-33 and 58-61

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 2-1-93

$12,764.33

 Less credits during outfitting

305.83

 Cost of outfits to owners

12,458.50

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

11,436.87

 Other credits during voyage

144.19

 Total credits

11,581.06

 Expenses during voyage

2,564.76

 Balance due owners 3-20-94

9,016.30

 

 Owners' losses on voyage

$3,442.20



1893-1895, Account book number 3, pages 62, 64-67, and 86-101

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 2-1-94

$11,470.98

 Less credits during outfitting

319.13

 Cost of outfits to owners

11,151.85

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

47,270.81

 Other credits during voyage

7,784.04

 Total credits

55, 054.84

 Expenses during voyage

31,644.29

 Balance due owners 1-20-97

23,410.55

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$12,258.70



1895-1896, Account book number 3, pages 102-105 and 122-127

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-1-96

$12,986.06

 Less credits during outfitting

492.59

 Cost of outfits to owners

12,493.47

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

14,196.70

 Other credits during voyage

381.00

 Total credits

14,577.70

 Expenses during voyage

4,809.94

 Balance due owners 4-1-97

9,767.76

 

 Owners' losses on voyage

$2,725.71



1896-1897, Account book number 3, pages 134-137 and 156-163

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-1-97

$8,243.66

 Less credits during outfitting

268.90

 Cost of outfits to owners

7,974.76

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

22,610.65

 Other credits during voyage

2,139.86

 Total credits

24,750.51

 Expenses during voyage

9,334.51

 Balance due owners 8-15-99

15,416.00

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$7,441.24



1897-1898, Account book number 3, pages 166-169 and 188-195

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-1-98

$10,440.88

 Less credits during outfitting

235.04

 Cost of outfits to owners

10,205.84

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

18,762.06

 Other credits during voyage

2,286.67

 Total credits

21,048.73

 Expenses during voyage

8,536.73

 Balance due owners 1-15-00

12,512.00

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$2,306.16



1898-1899, Account book number 3, pages 196-199 and 218-227

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-1-99

$12,878.10

 Less credits during outfitting

20.50

 Cost of outfits to owners

12,857.60

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

20,149.95

Sales of ambergris, less expenses

977.25

 Other credits during voyage

1,037.71

 Total credits

22,164.91

 Expenses during voyage

9,297.38

 Balance due owners 9-27-00

12,867.53

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$9.93



1899-1900, Account book number 3, pages 228-231 and 246-249

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-15-00

$13,436.64

 Less credits during outfitting

193.50

 Cost of outfits to owners

13,243.14

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

17,572.62

 Other credits during voyage

265.61

 Total credits

17,838.23

 Expenses during voyage

5,261.06

 Balance due owners 1-1-01

12,577.17

 

 Owners' losses on voyage

$665.97



1900-1901, Account book number 3, pages 258-261 and 278-285

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-1-01

$12,694.75

 Less credits during outfitting

601.25

 Cost of outfits to owners

12,093.50

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

38,565.94

 Other credits during voyage

2,895.44

 Total credits

41,461.38

 Expenses during voyage

14,645.38

 Balance due owners 6-10-02

26,816.00

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$14,722.50



1901-1902, Account book number 3, pages 286-289 and 308-315

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 12-1-01

$17,113.48

 Less credits during outfitting

810.62

 Cost of outfits to owners

16,302.86

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

34,289.83

 Other credits during voyage

1,119.89

 Total credits

35,409.72

 Expenses during voyage

10,883.88

 Balance due owners 12-20-02

24,525.84

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$8,222.98



1902-1903, Account book number 3, pages 316-319 and 340-345

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 12-20-02

$14,741.17

 Less credits during outfitting

291.35

 Cost of outfits to owners

14,449.82

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

26,612.51

 Other credits during voyage

4,820.30

 Total credits

31,432.81

 Expenses during voyage

13,937.88

 Balance due owners 9-1-04

17,494.93

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$3,045.11

1903-1904, Account book number 3, pages 350-353 and 370-377

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-4-04

$15,867.31

 Less credits during outfitting

1,516.23

 Cost of outfits to owners

14,351.08

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

26,318.52

 Other credits during voyage

5,508.31

 Total credits

31,826.83

 Expenses during voyage

14,032.17

 Balance due owners 1-20-06

17,794.66

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$3,443.58

1904-1906, Account book number 4, pages 2-5 and 74-79

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-1-05

$16,024.50

 Less credits during outfitting

462.53

 Cost of outfits to owners

15,561.97

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

20,294.36

 Other credits during voyage

4,018.68

 Total credits

24,313.04

 Expenses during voyage

9,815.43

 Balance due owners 3-1-07

14,497.61

 

 Owners' losses on voyage

$1,064.36



1906-1908, Account book number 4, pages 84-87 and 161-171

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 11-20-06

$21,750.31

 Less credits during outfitting

140.85

 Cost of outfits to owners

21,609.46

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

50,578.91

 Other credits during voyage

9, 759.62

 Total credits

60,338.53

 Expenses during voyage

29,349.21

 Balance due owners 12-1-09

30,989.32

 

 Owners' profits on voyage

$9,379.86



1908-1910, Account book number 4, pages 174-177 and 244-251

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 1-1-09

$16,938.67

 Less credits during outfitting

471.41

 Cost of outfits to owners

16,467.26

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

34,271.69

 Other credits during voyage

2,515.02

 Total credits

36,786.71

 Expenses during voyage

26,922.42

 Balance due owners 4-1-12

9,864.29

 

 Owners' losses on voyage

$6,602.97



1911-1913, Account book number 4, pages 256-259 and 326-337

 Total charges against vessel for outfitting to 6-1-11

$19,829.26

 Less credits during outfitting

58.02

 Cost of outfits to owners

19,771.24

 

 Sales of oil and bone, less expenses

39,744.19

 Other credits during voyage

4,651.23

 Total credits

44,395.42

 Expenses during voyage

34,347.32

 Balance due owners 7-1-14

10,048 .10

 

 Owners' losses on voyage

$9,723.14



Total and Averages

Total credits to vessel, 1863-1913

$944,987.86

Total outfitting costs to owners, 1863-1913

$454,762.27

Total expenses during voyages, 1863-1913

$394,291.69

 Net profits, 1863-1913

$95,933.90

Average credits per year

$18,899.76

Average outfitting costs per year

$9,095.25

Average expenses per year

$7,885.83

Average net profits per year

$1,918.68

Schultz, Charles R., G.W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport, 1967.