Nantucket Quarterboards

In addition to being unique and very special, this Nantucket quarterboard was a gift for the ship’s owner. It was custom-designed to resemble the actual Nantucket quarterboards mounted on the ship. The following photos show the replica by Designs & Signs as well as the original quarterboard. Unlike most quarterboards, this one has an unusual shape. It has two distinct and customized ends instead of rounded ends. Although more challenging to make, it produces a one-of-a-kind board.

Nantucket quarterboard tradition

The buyer approached us with the idea of replicating a classic custom quarterboard from a family yacht. As a gift for his father, I believe this board made waves and provided many good memories for the whole family. However, in the tradition of classic Nantucket homes, this board is intended for display purposes only.

Nantucket quarterboards

Brendon holds a finished board.

Designs & Signs made this beautiful replica Nantucket Quarterboard by hand. Travis Brandon designed this board to match photos of the original boards found on the family yacht. First, Howard Rogers carefully shapes the teak, and then he carves the letters the old-fashioned way, by hand with his favorite chisel. Finally, Brendon Brandon applies the white enamel spray coating, and he finishes all of the lettering and scrollwork with 23 karat patent gold leaf. A quarterboard like this requires 4 weeks to complete.

Nantucket quarterboards

You can find the beauty of handmade signs in the small imperfections that hand-tooling creates. A hand-carved letter stands out and looks so much better than a routed letter. The tiny unique hand tooled characteristics in the surface of the letter create a shimmering, glimmering effect that a machine can never duplicate.

Nantucket quarterboards

A photo of the family ship with its unique handmade quarterboards. We enjoyed the challenge of creating an accurate copy of this board. The Nantucket quarterboard tradition has survived since the days of the Whalers and traders in the North Atlantic. We are proud to maintain this tradition and bring the art of handmade signs to the next generation of sea-loving boat owners.

A beautiful transom, a work of art!

This gorgeous ship has a beautiful stern. The original sign work is probably hand-made, although I can’t recall all of the details. We were focusing on duplicating the sideboard during that time, and I didn’t consider such an obvious question. It is still quite beautiful. Hats off to the original sign maker who created this transom, a work of art.</

Nantucket quarterboards

About Nantucket quarterboards

The first quarterboards were carved in Chatham, Massachusetts. Many privateers became pirates as a result of the War of 1812. To protect legitimate ships, the government required that all ships have signage on their aft quarters. Typically, the artwork was done by the ship’s figurehead carver. Most antique quarterboards date back to the maritime trade of the 19th century when massive wooden vessels with five or six masts transported cargo up and down the east coast of the United States.

Salvaging the boards

Around 1850 to 1930, numerous shipwrecks occurred on the treacherous shoals around Cape Cod and adjacent islands. Occasionally, the quarterboards from the shipwrecks washed up on the shore.  Residents would also remove the boards from the shipwreck if they could get to it. It was impossible to keep the quarterboards inside of homes because often they were too large. So the Nantucket residents began to display the boards outside of their homes out of necessity. Today many homeowners display smaller hand-made quarterboards. All cottages have a name, a quarterboard on display above or near the front door.

Boards on display today

In modern times, quarterboards are popular in Nantucket and New England. A Nantucket house would not be complete without one. The traditional Nantucket quarterboards have become popular all around the world. We ship our boards to the west coast, Florida and New England, and even Boston and Nantucket. We sell many boards in the Chesapeake Bay region as well. Sailing, cruising, and fishing are very popular in Annapolis and the surrounding waterfront towns.

View more of our Nantucket quarterboards below!

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