Walter Barnum was born in New York City on Febuary 3rd 1887. He was educated at the Westminster school and then continued onto Yale University and graduated in 1910. He lived most of his adult life in Old Lyme, Connecticut and grew up around and on the water. In 1930, Walter Barnum commissioned naval architect Olin Stephens to design a gaff-rigged, auxiliary schooner. The yacht was constructed at Henry Nevins'Yard in New York City of teak on oak, with bronze knees, and on April 23, 1932 she was christened Brilliant by Mrs. Evelyn Humprey Barnum. She had a LOA of 61ft - 6 in., and a beam of 14ft - 8in., and upon her launch in 1932, Brilliant was worth more than $100,000. She participated in the 1932 Bermuda race, made a trans-Atlantic trip and raced in the 1933 Fastnet race, and completed another Bermuda race in 1936. Alfred F. Loomis, editor of Yachting magazine was the navigator for the trans-Atlantic passage, and published a story detailing the record setting voyage in which Brilliant sailed for five consecutive days at 200 miles or better in a 24 hour period. Mr. Briggs Cunningham purchased Brilliant in 1939 and during World War II, Brilliant served with the Coast Guard. After the war, Cunningham refitted her as a yacht and then in 1953 he donated her to the Mystic Seaport Museum where she still resides, and is renowned as one of the best built and best preserved of historic wooden boats. Walter Barnum died in 1966.
Nautical World Magazine, October 1997, Joseph Appleton's Brilliant, ppg. 40-45
New York Yacht Club 1935-1981