I spotted the ship from 100 paces and my heart quickened. I love shipwrecks, and here was ship at an odd angle. Foundering?
No, as it turns out, the ship on the base of the Eckford Webb obelisk is being built (figure 2):
And on the opposite side of the base is the epitaph (figure 3):
APRIL 8, 1825,
SEPT. 27, 1893.
“AN EMINENT SHIPBUILDER,
AND CONSTRUCTOR OF THE
CAISSONS FOR THE FIRST
BROOKLYN SUSPENSION BRIDGE.”
I love the hawser borders of the panels on the base! But look up from the epitaph and there is another wonderful surprise (figure 4):
Centered within a laurel crown of victory tied by a ribbon is Webb’s monogram worked out in more hawsers. The E is one cut piece of rope, while the W is another starting (let’s say) at the top right and working down and to the left into a series of loops and knots forming the letter W and notionally with its knots also the central horizontal bar of the E. The way the cutter has avoided an over-neat symmetry in the two laurel branches and sides of the ribbon in the wreath is splendid, too. On the other hand, the monogram, though centered with the letter W, and perhaps not without reason, feels a little off-balance because the E comes down more on the right side.