Wing and Wing

Wing and Wing

Alternate title: A Drifting Match, Rosalind and Beetle


The American photographer Henry Greenwood Peabody, (1855-1951) “considered to be among the best yachting photographers of the time” (1.)  used an 8 x 10 inch glass dry plate to photograph the cutter yachts Beetle, left, and Rosalind on June 18, 1888 somewhere off the coast of Maine along the eastern seaboard of the United States. (2.) At the time, the work was titled by Peabody as Wing and Wing, referring to a sailing term where a sailboat …”running with the jib to windward is known as…wing and wing” . (3.) Three years later, when Peabody copyrighted the work in 1891, he used the title of A Drifting Match, Rosalind and Beetle, for the image on behalf of the Detroit Photographic Publishing Company, which licensed it from him for resale prints. From this new title, we understand the two cutters are both engaged in a race , although it is a very slow race indeed-the opposite of how Peabody typically photographed sailboats similar to these going at a full clip by their prosperous owners on the high seas. The original glass plate negative of this photograph, now residing in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., is part of the Detroit Publishing Company collection there. The image has been converted to a positive image, with two large digitized views accessible to the public from their website. (4.)

A further concise definition for the nautical term Wing and Wing has been graciously supplied by a good friend of this site:

“Sailing ‘Wing and Wing’ – or ‘running’ – is when the wind comes from directly behind, so you are running with the wind. Wing and Wing means two sails are set, jib and main sail, one to port and the other to starboard. This is one of the most beautiful looking and peaceful feeling points of sail, but it is also the slowest.” 5.

Wing and Wing was also published around the same time in Bits of Nature as a photo-gelatine (collotype) plate in the July, 1889 issue of Sun & Shade, plate III, whole # 11. This photograph of two sailboats appeared in Peabody’s book published that year titled The Coast of Maine. (Boston- Henry G. Peabody)

slight foxing to plate

1. Peabody biography: Lee Gallery website: Winchester, MA: site accessed: 2012
2. Yachting and Marine Views : Detroit Publishing Co. no. 05676: from: Scenic, Architectural and Marine Views: Catalogue F.: Detroit Photographic Company: Detroit, MI: 1899: p. 229
3. Points of sail: Wikipedia: accessed: 2012
4. see: A drifting match, Rosalind and Beetle : Library of Congress Call Number: LC-D4-5676
5. Curt von Diest: Wing and Wing explanatory: PhotoSeed on Facebook: 2012

Original copy for  associated blogpost “Reverie” posted to Facebook on February 8, 2012:

In a follow-up to a recent posting in this space, I’ve added a blog discussing a few particulars of a collection of photographs taken by Henry Greenwood Peabody of Boston published in his 1889 volume ” The Coast of Maine: Campobello to the Isles of Shoals”. These plates were printed in the very fine photo-gelatine (collotype) process by Ernest Edward’s New York Photogravure company, the same firm that produced similar plates in 1887 for Eadweard Muybridge’s magnum opus “Animal Locomotion”. The photograph known as “Wing and Wing” showing two cutter yachts engaged in a drifting race is further accompanied by the poem Reverie by American poet and writer Celia Thaxter. A few lines:

The white reflection of the sloop’s great sail
Sleeps trembling on the tide;
In scarlet trim her crew lean o’er the rail,
Lounging on either side.

Original copy for this entry posted to Facebook on January 29, 2012:

Sailing and sailboat terminology are not my strong suits, but I’ve included some background anyway on this sumptuous tissue photogravure depicting two cutter yachts “racing” each other in a drifting match included in a recent 1889 view-book I’ve posted to the site. Taken by the American photographer Henry Greenwood Peabody in 1888, it is pictorial in effect as a gravure- reproduced in pleasing blue-green tones- as compared to the more straight, yet equally luminous original glass plate (converted to a positive) held in the Library of Congress.

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Wing and Wing

Image Dimensions10.0 x 12.6 cm (Japan tissue)

Support Dimensions25.3 x 30.5 cm | thin, manilla leaf