USS Neversail: The Landlocked Ship That Made Its Own Waves

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Recruiting poster showing USS Recruit. Carlton T. Chapman, artist, ca. 1917. The Mariners’ Museum and Park 1998.33.28

During World War I, a Navy vessel ‘sailed’ the concrete of New York City for three years. The only water it ever encountered was from the sky and the city’s municipal water supply. The battleship, nicknamed “USS Neversail” and the “Street Dreadnaught,” was officially christened USS Recruit.

This recruiting poster depicts Recruit proudly steaming through the waves, leading other vessels in its wake. In reality, Recruit was constructed, commissioned, manned, decommissioned, and dismantled without ever touching an ocean. Yet despite being landlocked, the ship played an important role during World War I.   Read more

Donor Celebration

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Norddeutscher Lloyd Line poster

Last week was a whirlwind of activity for us and for several others in the museum as we celebrated the donation of the Herbert Beazley steamship collection by Norma Beazley, who is a wonderful lady.  Last year Cindi and I spent two days in Houston packing the collection and then two days driving it back to the museum in a moving truck.  It was a long journey, but very worthwhile when we started to see what exactly it was we had brought back (a total of about 22,000 pieces!).  We had objects, videos, photographs, postcards, slides, books and a very large number of archival pieces.  Archival pieces generally include flat paper pieces such as menus, deck plans, passenger lists, receipts, tickets, baggage tags, etc.  Between us and the library staff (as well as a number of awesome interns) it took us about two months to completely inventory the collection.

What is so great about this collection (besides how massive it is) is how many wonderful things have now come to our museum because of it.

 

           

 

The posters above are just three examples of a great many posters and prints we’ve received thanks to Norma. These three just happen to be some of my favorite.  The first depicts three short-lived ships of the North German Lloyd Line, Gneisenau, Potsdam and Scharnhorst, with an eye-catching yellow background and cute little birds on a branch (and yes, Nazi flags on the bows of the ships).  North German Lloyd is one of my favorite companies as they made some ships with truly beautiful and awe-inspiring interiors.  The second poster is a great shot of Colombia of the Royal Netherlands Steamship Company who was torpedoed and sunk in 1942.  It also features a beautiful yellow on the background and is in fantastic shape.  The third poster is the Hamburg-American Line and the depiction of the islands catches my attention every time.  Very simple but very colorful.  The ship in the image is either Reliance or Resolute, both of which entered service in 1926.

Some other interesting objects include an early 1900’s White Star Line demitasse cup, as seen in the first picture.  There is also a saucer, but they do not go together because one is blue and the other is green.  The next picture shows a paper fan from the ship Lusitania (owned by the Cunard Line) and famously (and sadly) sunk by a German U-boat in 1915.  The third picture is of a souvenir mustard cup from RMS Berengaria, also a Cunard Line ship (although it originally belonged to the Hamburg-American Line as SS Imperator).  I have a special place in my heart for this ship because my great-grandmother Maria Patrikar came to America on her.  This picture of Maria below is from the early 1920’s, right before she came to America.

 

To get back on topic about the events of last week, Wednesday night we held a cocktail hour and dinner featuring a menu you might have found on one the majestic passenger liners of the past.  And it was yummy!

During the cocktail hour we had two display cases out as well as a number of posters and prints displayed for everyone to enjoy, and they were beautifully set up.  I would like to send a quick thank you to our photographer Jason for sending me the great pictures of the menu and setup at the event (I did not have the foresight to bring a camera).

     

Behind the two gentlemen is a deck chair on which we attached a photo of Herbert Beazley so that he could be a part of this celebration.  After all, he (and his love of steamships) is the whole reason we all came together.  The group that came with Norma was  a fantastic lot and I was sad to see everyone go after the dinner, but hopefully we can all celebrate again one day when pieces from this collection are ready to be displayed.