Many cultures have their own fond sayings and expressions of good tidings. Sailors are no exception. The phrase, "Fair Winds and Following Seas" is used by sailors to wish a fellow sailor the best of luck—similar to the entreaty "Godspeed." It's a blessing, of sorts, a wish that the fellow sailor should have the best possible sea conditions for an easy and successful journey, usually expressed before an important undertaking. Literally, it's an appeal for perfect sailing wind and smooth waters—not choppy or difficult waves into which one must pound and struggle. Although "Fair Winds" can be used as a general naval salutation, its wistful and poetic nature makes it especially appropriate when expressed before a critical departure: when a sailor is being deployed on a dangerous mission or during his passage to the afterlife.
Sailors have been plying wide seas for centuries. In the Renaissance Era (roughly the 1500's), galleons—stable, maneuverable large-bodied ships—were first used to carry large quantities of expensive imports over long distances of rough, open water. Galleons could be tightly-packed with tea from China, spices from India, or gold from the New World. Galleons were also used by Europeans (Portugal, Spain, France, England, Holland) for naval battles with each other. (Enslaved human cargo was transported on a different type of ship, cruelly designed to maximize the number of people chained-up while lying flat on low-ceilinged decks.)
These cast iron galleon bookends were made in the 1920's. Their brass finish is now beautifully aged over their century of life. Click on the photo above to learn more about them.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248