Built with WHAT??! Bones, Hair, and Prisoners: Model Ships of War

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This is an image from The Dance of Death by Hans Holbein the Younger, dated 1538. Public Domain

Model ships made of bone. On this Halloween Eve, that’s a strange and sort of mysterious idea. It might seem even a little bit creepy to think about.

Who would think to use discarded bones to create something as beautiful as a model ship?    Read more

Shipwreck Survivors

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SS Norman Prince

It is no surprise that many ships were torpedoed during WWII and that many soldiers passed away as the ships went down. Today, however, I came across a few photographs of groups of men who managed to survive. Thankfully, the notes on the back of the prints are detailed and told their stories:

These dapper seaman were on the English ship SS Norman Prince which was torpedoed on May 28, 1942 off St. Lucia. They were rescued by the French ship SS Angouleme, but kept as prisoners in Martinique for over four months. They were finally released in an exchange of prisoners and came aboard this ship, the SS Goethals. Uboats.net adds that all but one survivor drifted on the lifeboat for 26 hours, 40 miles before they were able to get the attention of the SS Angouleme.   Read more

Raft Dance – Illustrated London News

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raft party

From the Illustrated London News comes this amusing image of people dancing on a raft amidst a group of ships and boats.  According to the text on the side, this occurred during the Squadron Regatta in Cork, Ireland in July of 1851.  Those on the raft were sailors from the HMS Leander who has dressed up to perform various dances on the raft for the amusement of all at the regatta.  As a finale, the performers jumped into the water and then continued to amuse onlookers with their antics.

So far I haven’t been able to find out any more information about the occasion displayed in this piece, but I thought it was probably still interesting enough to share.

The Dead Horse Festival

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Dead Horse Festival (1)

While spending some time going through a stack of Harper’s Weekly articles we have, I found some really interesting subjects.  The one that stuck out the most was titled The Dead Horse Festival.  First mistake was looking at the imagery before reading the article.  I thought they were throwing a real horse from the ship; they aren’t.

There is some text missing from ours, but I was able to find it online.  The first two columns read:   Read more

Object of the Month- Fashion Scrimsaw

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Fashion Scrimshaw tooth.
Fashion Scrimshaw tooth.

For this month’s special artifact, I have selected one of the pieces from our scrimshaw collection. Now, I am personally not a fan of the idea of scrimshaw, but I thought it would be good to share what it is and the history behind it to our readers.  I picked this particular piece because of the two women depicted.

Before discussing our object, I want to share some about the art of scrimshaw. These pieces are usually made by sailors aboard whaling ships and often depict landscapes, while many are drawings of magazine illustrations, like particular one. The oldest examples of scrimshaw are from the 1600’s and are dutch made. However, scrimshaw did not become popular until 19th century New England whalers picked up the art.   Read more