Decoration and Use: The Cruise of the Fleur de Lys in the Ocean Race

The Cruise of the Fleur de Lys in the Ocean Race, written by Lewis Atterbury Stimson, is a small, personal sized, book that has relatively little to no decorative additions. The author of the book was a well-off doctor with a passion for yachting in his spare time, who likely created the image of the book to indicate a certain form of use.

The entirety of the front and back covers of the hardcover is a light pale blue with no other decorations or additions, with the acceptation of the title. The title of the book is written in a flashy gold patter, possibly signifying some importance or class of the inside contents of the piece of writing, but there is no other writing or design on the outside of the book. The simplicity of its outward appearance goes as far as excluding the authors name.

(Front and back simplicity
of the covers)

I theorized that the purpose of the book was not to be fancy or gaudy by appearance, but by reputation, based upon the lifestyle and interests portrayed in the authors life history.

 

Similarly, if this idea is true upon the purpose of the book, the way it was meant to be regarded is similar to the idea known as “old money”. This concept brings with it a hushed perception of an implied classism. The idea of letting ones social status be known publicly through reputation, rather than preaching a presence of ostentatiousness. There is no extravagance about the book until one looks through the content of its insides.

(Photograph of malfunctions)

The inside of the book, similar to the outside, has little to no decoration. The only pieces of decoration to be seen beneath the sky blue cover of the book is the addition of photographs of the experience. The inside of the book depicts images of the journey with particular names and distinct faces, though there are no additions on the inside that signify an artful flourish. Each page is only filled with text and a page number, with blank margins, with an occasional photograph of the ordeal. The book has little to no decorations, I presume, in order to direct more attention to the content and social aspect of the race.

The history of the use of the book was not documented specifically, though it is stated on the inside cover that that book was given as an addition to Colby’s special collection in 1905, the year that the book was printed. This most likely means that the book was given to Colby after its publication and has been here since that date. Although, there is fairly noticeable shading along the front cover  (as seen in the image above showing the front cover of the book) that signifies it was left untouched, possibly out on a table for some extended period of time. It can be inferred that a small, relatively unfrequented, book such as this would not have been left out to collect enough dirt for such a long period of time in Colby special collections. The book is not necessarily decorative, but effective  to be left out for entertainment as a table accessory. Similarly, it is an interesting tale to leave out as a passive read.

The fact that the edition was given to Colby the year of its publication may suggest that Stimson had some connection to either the school, or the town.  No evidence could be found that he had any personal connection to Colby College, Waterville, or Maine, but he did donate a fair number of books. Each of the additional books that were donated tended to correlate with his work life rather than leisure activities. All others were some medical advising book or textbook, most concerning surgery of some sort, as he showed great success in the medical field.

When keeping the life history of the author in mind, the book was most likely not meant to be some widespread, educational tale, but a memento of the experience to be told, as, somewhat, of a humble brag. Stimson was a well-off man who, most likely, wanted to leave some addition to create a larger legacy of his life, used as a tale to tell his story.