A gentleman reached out to us earlier this year to inquire if we were interested in liberty hatch doors. Of course, that grabbed our interest, but the problem with these doors is that they’re too large to ship normally. Freight shipping would be unprofitable for a single hatch door. We kept talking to the man and learned that he actually had 10 of them, stacked up in his barn alongside a few completed tables. At this point, we knew that we had to go out and see them. There were only about 200 Victory ships while 1,000 WWII Liberty Ships were made. Each Victory Ship had 500 hatch doors to provide access to cargo areas, while each Liberty Ship had 500 hatch covers. We couldn’t miss out on this chance for some great historical salvage pieces. We packed up our truck and trailer and headed out the next week.
We were lucky enough to fit in another purchase during this trip and traveled to a suburb south of Chicago to purchase a binnacle, anchor, and a few other nautical antiques. After that stop, we headed north of Chicago to meet our new friends at the barn. As we got closer, it was evident that we were really in the middle-of-nowhere. It’s funny to think about how your perception of that phrase changes once you travel somewhere else. I thought I knew middle-of-nowhere being from Ohio, but Illinois middle-of-nowhere brought the phrase another meaning.
We pulled into the parking lot and met with the gentleman, who told us that this collection was passed down to him from his father who worked at a boat salvage yard. The son thought they were cool so he kept them, intending to eventually transform them into tables, like a few of them had been so far. Time passed and other interests took a place in his heart that the hatch tables once had. We struck a deal and loaded up the 10 liberty hatch doors as well as the various already assembled tables. We are currently selling them as-is, so that you can restore these however you see fit.. but we might be converting some of these ourselves soon.
We’re a family business and that means utilizing everyone in the family’s skills! Our cousin, Barry Unger, helped finish some of these hatch covers for immediate use by our customers! His first batch consisted of two hatch covers, of which we have one left. You can check out the rest of his craftsmanship on his Etsy page here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ungermercantile