AN IMPORTANT PORTRAIT MINIATURE OF CAPTAIN SAMUEL REA (1782-1842) OF SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS, AMERICAN SCHOOL, CIRCA 1810. TOGETHER WITH HIS LOG BOOK FROM AN 1815 TRIP TO SUMATRA.
Captain Rea is facing right, wearing a black coat and waistcoat with a white shirt. His dark hair is short with sideburns. The background is in shades of brown and green. The oval miniature is set in a gold locket frame with opaline glass and glazed hair on the
The title page of the log reads "Journal of Voyage to/Padang on West Coast Sumatra/Sail'd from Salem 12th April/1815,/in Ship Augustus". The "Augustus" returned to Salem on February 28th, 1816, after spending 227 days at sea, and having seen such exotic places as "Musquito Island", warding off privateers, facing countless gales and
buying a fortune in pepper and coffee. Pepper, a most valuable spice in the early 19th century, was also the most difficult to obtain. The Dutch, based in Batavia (now Jakarta) on the island of Java, had colonized the "Spice Islands", but also had little control over them.
The pirates and natives of the island of Sumatra were considered the most dangerous in the world. Captain Rea records little trouble, but he does note that while he is on Sumatra "...the Natives keeping their Festival after their 30 days and fasting." Religious holidays (possibly Ramadam) and lack of food may have taken some of the fight
out of them".