Manuel Swartz Roberts (1881–1963)
Bequest of Oscar Pease
Famed boat builder Manuel Swartz Roberts built a new catboat for Edgartown fisherman Thomas Pease in 1929. Named Vanity for her good looks, she was originally fitted with an engine and used for scalloping. Vanity was not rigged for sailing until 1938, when Pease expanded his business to include charters—taking summer visitors out fishing or on day trips. Oscar Pease continued both scalloping and charters after he inherited Vanity from his father in 1941. By the time he retired in the 1980s Vanity was the last working catboat in Vineyard waters.
Oscar Pease has been called one of Edgartown's finest watermen, and in 1962 he joined the Catboat Association, which had just been founded by Vineyard summer resident John M. Leavens. Pease became the organization's technical advisor, respected for his knowledge of catboats and his skill at maintaining them.
Normally, objects in the Museum's collection are not used for their original purposes. No one is allowed to sit in the chairs or try on the hats or crimp pie crusts with the scrimshaw jagging wheels. No one spears eels with the eel gigs. Vanity is an exception. Painstakingly rebuilt by Vineyard boatbuilders Gannon and Benjamin in 2000, she is launched every spring so that friends of the Museum can experience sailing on an original catboat.
With thanks to the following individuals who have adopted this object for one year: Anne and Warren Vose