History is in the Details

A scene from the shore looking out on Hobart, Tasmania. From Meyer’s Universum volume 8, published in 1841. LE989/1936.0603.000001

The Mariners’ Museum and Park has thousands of prints in our collection, and one of my recent projects has been to catalog the prints and engravings from a German book titled Meyer’s Universum, oder Abbildung und Beschreibung des Sehenswerthesten und Merkwürdigsten der Natur und Kunst auf der ganzen Erde, or in English Meyer’s Universe, or Illustration and Description of the Most Remarkable and Strangest Things in Nature and Art all over the World. These illustrated travel books from the 1800s had fabulous names but for short, we’ll call it Meyer’s Universum.

There are only 29 of those prints in the collection so this should be pretty quick. I start by finding the book where the prints are published, verifying the edition (and therefore the year), then describing and researching everything in the image: buildings, bridges, statues, rivers, if I can identify it I will provide the history. We already had the name of the book, how hard can this be?   Read more

La Isabel Project: Part One

La Isabel (starboard). Image courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park

Hi everyone!

Last time I wrote on our blog, I was discussing my work with Princess Carolina (i.e. Ronson) as a graduate conservation intern. Well, since then, I’ve finished up my graduate program and have started an exciting new project working with another one of our amazing vessels: La Isabel!   Read more

Elk…in the Park?

In other blogs, we’ve talked about the goals of the Park as they pertained to planting. However, one of the main goals for Anna Hyatt Huntington (renowned sculptor and wife of Archer Huntington) was to have a wildlife sanctuary. She sculpted live animals, when she could, to give life and realism to her work. For several years, we had a permitted wildlife sanctuary in the Park! Of the projects from the early years of the Park, our wildlife endeavor was the longest, lasting until almost 1950.

Work on securing wildlife for the Park didn’t begin until a year after the start of a majority of the construction. The Lake was a big component of the wildlife sanctuary and accordingly, its completion was necessary before animals could come in. The first permit we applied for was with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a waterfowl enclosure in August of 1931. In that first application, we asked for 35 Canada geese to put in a goose range in the Lake. Dr. Albert K. Fisher, ornithologist and President of the American Ornithologists’ Union, served as our wildlife consultant. In August of 1932, he wrote that the goose range, “will be one of the finest, if not the finest, in the United States.”   Read more

Navy Service Pistols

Colt Model of 1911 pistol, as used by the United States Navy. The Mariners’ Museum and Park, 1937.0023.000023

There are some hints in the topics of my other blogs, but for those who don’t know, I am an enthusiast of military history and the history of military technology in particular. Now my general interest tends more towards artillery (especially if it’s old, bronze, and pretty – seriously, check out the two Spanish 24-pounder cannons by the Museum entrance, they’re gorgeous) but smallarms are fun too!

In modern militaries, weapons are standardized as a matter of course; when you’re fielding hundreds of thousands of people, logistics gets complicated if everybody brings their own. It’s far easier if everyone is using the same ammunition, spare parts, magazines, etc. Standardization of firearms for that purpose really began with major European powers in the early 18th century, so by the time the US was founded, this was de rigueur for any national military. By the early 19th century, the US Navy had been established, and had adopted a standard handgun from the US Armory at Harper’s Ferry.   Read more

A Tour Through the Mediterranean with Joseph Partridge

USS Warren, Act of Bearing Up in the Archipelago. The Archipelago referred to in the title is most likely the area between Cape Matapan and the western end of Crete. In a letter dated April 3, 1828 Kearny states about the voyage from Smyrna to Mahon: “We have had a long passage of 63 days, experiencing a succession of heavy gales of wind from the N.W. and squalls, rendering it not only tedious, but very dangerous to the safety of the vessel being light and badly provided with rigging.” Painted by Joseph Partridge. (Accession#: 1947.0851.000001)

Click on the map to tour the Mediterranean with the USS Warren!

A recent inquiry from the Assistant Professor of Mediterranean History and Archaeology at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World brought a really cool assemblage of watercolors in our collection to my attention. The images were painted by Joseph Partridge, an artist turned Marine stationed aboard USS Warren between 1827 and 1830.   Read more