Maria Mitchell’s Attic
Answer to “What is This?”

This is the front door latch of the Mitchell House.  The mahogany used to make it came from a shipwreck; specifically the Queen, and the wood is from cargo items found on the ship.  The Queen was a vessel that was broken in two when it came ashore in the area of Nobadeer on January 4, 1813.  An English ship, this was certainly a prize.  The Queen came into action with the American privateer, General Armstrong and the cargo of the Queen was supposedly strewn about the shore from Siasconset to Miacomet – quite a large distance.  Her cargo was invoiced at about 100,000 British pounds.  New Englanders – and certainly Nantucketers – were very good at creating something useful out of something else and of salvage – they were the original recyclers.  In fact, something that was repaired and made into a new use or repaired using materials other than what the item was originally made from were referred to as “make-dos.”  This door latch was installed in the Mitchell House before the Mitchells inhabited it but think of all the times it was opened and closed by the family, including Maria.