Artifact Spotlight: Sailor's Ostrich Egg from USS Enterprise, 1889
---Joshua Howard, Curatorial Volunteer
1. Seaman Andrew Raiche's Ostrich Egg
This week's artifact blog is about an ostrich egg acquired by a sailor during a late nineteenth century cruise on the European Station. Seaman Andrew Raiche purchased and decorated the egg during his two year voyage on board the steam powered sloop of war USS Enterprise.
2. Officers and Crew of USS Enterprise Muster on Deck, 1890
Enterprise, the fifth ship to bear the name, was launched July 13, 1874 at Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. In 1888, under the command of Commander Bowman H. McCalla, she departed Boston to join the European Squadron. McCalla, famous for leading the invasion of Guantanamo Bay during the Spanish-American War and for later service in the Boxer Rebellion, was also on the Naval War College faculty in the 1890s. During the next two years, the screw sloop sailed off Europe, the Mediterranean, and the east coast of Africa.
The piece is dated "Zanzibar, May 18, 1889" and bears the inscription "From Andrew to Mother. " Raiche scrimshawed a number of scenes he encountered along the cruise including a sphinx, a pyramid scene, ostriches, a cobra and mongoose, a butterfly, a locust, and a flower. According to the memoirs of the ship's executive officer, Lt. Royal R. Ingersoll, he and other crew members purchased ostrich eggs and feathers during their stops at the port of Aden in present day Yemen. Enterprise arrived at the port about a month before reaching Zanzibar and pulled in again about a week after their departure. Likely, Raiche acquired the egg during their first pass through the Suez Canal and completed it sometime before leaving Zanzibar. Andrew Raiche, a native of Maynard, Massachusetts, was a bugler aboard Enterprise. He enlisted in the navy in 1886 and was discharged in March, 1890 after the sloop sailed into the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn.
In 2006, Daniel Raiche of Cranston, Rhode Island donated his grandfather Andrew's ostrich egg to the museum. Formerly part of the "New Acquisitions" display, this popular artifact is now part of the exhibition, The Navy in Art located on the museum's first floor.