Saturday, May 22, 2010

Police Gazette on George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen's Fox Voyage

The Fox (c) Wm Barth Osmundsen, Sculptor, Victor Samuelsen, Project coordinator

About a year ago or more the Fox Sculpture Project was in touch with William A. Mays, Editor and Publisher of the 'new' Police Gazette, which is only online at this time.
If you are under 40 you may not remember going into a Barber Shop and fingering through a 'pink paged' tabloid with rather provocative pictures and writings in it. It was a magazine far ahead of Playboy having been published in the mid 1800's. The run of this 'pink press' tabloid lasted until the 1970's. Our particular interest (besides the women displayed in the periodical) is the sponsorship of the 'first transatlantic crossing by oar in an open boat' ; which is the Fox Sculpture Project, presently ongoing and in planning as a bronze monument.

The 'original' publisher (he made it famous after purchasing it from the original owner and was also the one who decided on 'pink pages') of the 'Police Gazette' , Richard Fox was, in fact, a man of diverse interests which ran from promoting some of the great bare knuckle fights which John L. Sullivan participated in to investing in a small row boat which two Norwegian American seamen and fishermen thought they could row some 2000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

I don't really think we can fully appreciate the risk or frankly the organic quality of this whole venture without somehow taking a time machine back to lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Jersey Shore where the FOX (an 18 ft 'Surf boat' was built by William A Seamens, in the Long Branch, NJ area. The film 'Gangs of New York' I believe has some of the grit you might have found then. For instance the last John L. Sullivan, bare knuckle fight went over 100 rounds.

Richard Fox didn't like John L. Sullivan, because Sullivan was rather dismissive of Fox. Actually Fox hoped Sullivan would loose, which he didn't.

Fox sponsored George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen to row across the Atlantic but had little hope the open boat would make it across. His comment to George Harbo who presented the idea was, "What makes you think you can do this other than you have a giant (referring to the 6' 4" Frank Samuelsen) for a partner. He promised them solid gold medals if they accomplished the task.

The excitement surrounding Mr. Mays article, lost for about 100 years, about the Fox voyage is that it is the most complete and comprehensive article documenting the link to the historic crossing, by oar, in an 18 foot open 'Surf Boat by George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen to Richard Fox and the Police Gazette. On our web site we have two other articles online both published by the New York Times in 1896.

Here is a link to the Police gazette article and thanks again to the new editor and publisher William Mays for his research and sharing it with all of us. I think it is a great piece of information and we are pleased to add it to the Fox Sculpture Project.