James Dickinson Smith (1829-1909) was born in Exeter, New Hampshire and began his career as a clerk in a Connecticut country store. He moved to New York and in 1867 he organized the banking firm of Jameson, Smith & Codding which in 1873 became James D. Smith & Co., one of the leading financial institutions in New York City. In 1885 he was elected President of the New York Stock Exchange and served on the board of directors of several large corporations.
J. D. Smith was an avid yachtsman and was a member of the New Haven, Atlantic, Stamford, Riverside, Seawanhaka Corinthian, Brooklyn, and New York Yacht Clubs. He served as Rear-Commodore in 1880, Vice-Commodore in 1881, and Commodore in 1882-1883 of the New York Yacht Club. He also served as Chairman of the America's Cup Committee for twelve years. (John Parkinson, Jr., The History of the New York Yacht Club, New York, 1974)
The engraved B.Y.C. probably refers to the Brooklyn Yacht Club which was founded in 1857 and closed in the 1930s. Smith's yacht, Estelle, was a centerboard schooner and built in 1874 by J. Richards of Norwalk, Connecticut and was 88 feet LOA.