Saturday, February 02, 2013


A vendue is an auction. This 17th century word derives from the Dutch word vendu, which comes from Old French, and ultimately from the Latin vendere, meaning to sell. The word vendue was used on the Outer Banks to describe a public sale of shipwrecked cargo. This is what Joe A. Mobley has to say in his excellent book Ship Ashore! The U.S. Lifesavers of Coastal North Carolina:

"In 1800 the ever-increasing number of shipwrecks and lost cargoes led North Carolina to establish wreck districts with a commissioner or agent in charge of each of them to take possession of materials that washed ashore as the result of shipping disasters. Those officials, who initially were appointed by the governor and later by the county courts, attempted to determine the owner of the wrecked cargo and convened an auction, known as a vendue, for its disposition. According to the terms of vendue, the owner of the cargo, the person who salvaged it, and the agent all received a share of the selling price."

Wreckage near Gull Shoal (Hatteras Island) after the great storm of August, 1899:

Photo from Carol Cronk Cole Collection, Outer Banks History Center

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of windmills on Ocracoke. You can read it here:

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