Truth be told, I’m not a numbers guy. This is inconvenient (to put it mildly) because numbers are important and they can help carry historical arguments. As the chapter about Captain T. A. Scott (left) moves along [see this post for more], I finally got down to tabulating what I know about the shipwrecks he salvaged, inspected or repaired between 1879 and 1902. (The dates are not random: salvage became his full-time occupation in 1879; in 1902, the Scott Company was incorporated and the Captain’s son, T. A. Scott Jr., took the helm.) I’m sure some jobs slipped through the cracks, but I’m confident this list is representative of Scott’s work during this period. It draws on extensive newspaper searches, archival material of the Scott Company and court records in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. It’s as good as I’m going to get for now.
Here’s what I take from the 200 wrecks: Schooners accounted for almost 2 of every 3 jobs Scott took between 1879 and 1902. November through April was the “busy” season, accounting for almost 2 of every 3 jobs. Finally, Scott averaged over 8 wrecks a season by my count but contemporaries put the number at beween 25 and 35 a year. I’m guessing the reality is somewhere between the two.
What else do these numbers say? Can you help me interpret them? Any thoughts are very much apprecated!