Joseph Wheeler Appleton was the skipper on the Philip Rhodes designed cutter Skal that placed second to Olin Stephen’s Dorade in the famous 1931 transatlantic race.
During this period he began making models professionally in a small shop he created in his family home at 33 Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights, about one block from the promenade overlooking New York Harbor and the statue of Liberty. He repaired many of the models from the Cunard and White Star lines in this shop. Still sailing whenever he could, the connections he made on the water provided him with customers until his work eventually spoke for itself and word of mouth provided him with enough business to keep busy.
Appleton was a regular crew member on Walter Barnum’s Sparkman & Stephens designed schooner yacht Brilliant. He sailed her on a record-breaking transatlantic crossing in 1933. Her elapsed time from Nantucket Lightship to Bishop Rock Light, England, was 15 days, 1 hour and 23 minutes. During that crossing Brilliant had five consecutive days where she sailed over 200 miles, a remarkable feat for a sailing vessel of her size. While in England, Appleton and Brilliant raced in the famous Fastnet Race from Cowes on the Isle of Wight around the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland and then finishing at Plymouth. To get home, he hitched a ride with Rod Stephens on the Fastnet winner Dorade and made another record breaking passage westbound, Cowes to Larchmont, in 22 days.
– by Jay Picotte from the exhibition catalogue