Velvet Underground – Sterling Morrison’s Signed Merchant Mariner’s ID Card

A U.S. Merchant Mariner’s Document (a credential or license for Merchant Mariners) issued to former Velvet Underground guitarist Sterling Morrison, under his legal name, Holmes Sterling Morrison, Jr.  The back of the laminated card has Morrison’s thumbprint, and he has signed it with his full legal name.

After the Velvet Underground broke up, Morrison moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas, where he taught and earned a PHD in medieval literature.  Wikipedia notes Morrison began to work on Houston tugboats as a deckhand to supplement his income in the mid-1970s; when he was forced to relinquish his teaching assistantship some years later, he was licensed as a master mariner and became the captain of a Houston tugboat, a vocation he pursued throughout the 1980s.  After leaving the Velvet Underground, Morrison’s musical career was primarily limited to informal sessions for personal enjoyment, though he played in a few bands around Austin, Texas, most notably the Bizarros.  Morrison’s tenure in the capital of Texas made him a well-loved and admired member of the local music community as well as an influential voice. During John Cale’s renaissance in the late 1970s, Morrison occasionally sat in with his former bandmate. From the mid-1980s on, he occasionally recorded or performed with Cale, Reed, and particularly Tucker [and was part of the Velvet Underground reunion of 1993.]

This ID card is dated November 28, 1983, and gives Morrison’s home address in Austin.  His photograph is on the front, as is his ink signature and an official Coast Guard stamp.  The back gives his vital statistics, notes he is an “Able Seaman–Any Waters–Unlimited” and “Wiper, Steward’s Department (FH).”  It is signed by a Coast Guard official.

We acquired this document from Sterling Morrison’s widow, Martha Morrison; her letter of authenticity is included, as is Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity.  A one-of-a-kind Velvet Underground collectible.

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