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September 15, 2015 History, Sailing, York River

Sailing with a Grasshopper

Paula Spalding, charter sailing

Paula Spalding, charter sailing

While sailing off Yorktown and listening to the history of the Battle of the Capes, Paula and Eric Spalding recalled the story of the grasshopper vane atop Faneuil Hall in Boston. The website celebrateboston.com picks up the story:

“The gilded grasshopper atop Faneuil Hall has an interesting history. Shem Drowne was a well known Boston coppersmith. In 1742, he made a copper grasshopper vane as a gift to Peter Faneuil, and it was placed on Faneuil Hall. The vane has been blown off the building a few times, and was then repaired and placed back on the building. The vane was eventually gilded gold, presumably to harmonize with the gold dome of the State House. Shem Drowne died in 1774, and was buried at Copp’s HillBurial Ground.

“It is believed that the Faneuil Hall vane was modeled after the grasshopper atop the Royal Exchange in London. The Royal Exchange was built by Sir Thomas Gresham, and completed in 1571. The exchange became a center of world commerce. The descendant building was destroyed by fire in 1838, and a new Royal Exchange Building was opened in 1844. The name Gresham means “grass-farm,” and one can infer the grasshopper atop the Royal Exchange was a symbol of the Gresham family name.”

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