Tattooing…a dead art?

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Tattoo artist Cap Coleman in front of his East Main Street store. Taken by Museum photographer William Radcliffe, July 1936. (Accession# P873)

Many of you are probably aware that the Museum holds a wonderful collection of materials once used by the world famous Norfolk tattooist August Bernard Coleman, known as Cap Coleman. Our Coleman materials are one of our most popular and regularly requested collections for both private viewings and for loan to other institutions. Right now, the figurine of the “Tattooed Man” is currently on display at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts in an exhibition about fashion and design.

A couple of weeks ago a friend at Peabody Essex connected me with Nonie Gadsden, the Katharine Lane Weems Senior Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Nonie was in the process of coordinating the acquisition of an object for their collection [Since the MFA hasn’t formally announced it yet I won’t spoil their surprise by telling you what it is!] and had some questions about our Coleman collection and how we acquired it. Answering those questions revealed a rather surprising motivation behind the Museum’s decision to acquire the materials.   Read more

Posters, part 8

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ln515

Thought it was time to share some more posters, so here we go.  The first one is from the 1960’s and encourages young people to stay in school.  As for the second poster, it was an effort to save the old USS Oregon.  The ship was scrapped in the 50’s, but pieces of it remain in the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland Oregon, including the mast.  The third is a recruiting poster ca 1917 by artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker.

The first poster in this set is also WWI and encourages people to buy victory notes.  The second is WWII by artist Allen Saalburg and works at encouraging patriotism by reminding people of the lives lost in the Pearl Harbor disaster.  The third is also WWII (1944) and stands as a reminder that Americans were also fighting on the Pacific front, not just in Europe where the fighting was coming to a close.  It was done by artist P. Kolada

Way Back Wednesday

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Dec 23, 1974, Re-enlistment at naval memorial plaque

This image from December of 1973 shows a re-enlistment in front of Navy Memorial Plaque.  Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the two gentlemen, but behind them to the right you can see a little bit of our walking beam engine from the steamboat Albany.

To people who have seen our courtyard, this should look somewhat familiar.  In 1972, the museum used part of the courtyard area to create the Gibbs Gallery, an exhibition celebrating William Francis Gibbs.   Read more

Posters, part 6

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ln235

Our first poster is ca 1917 recruiting poster for WWI, done by artist L.N. Britton.  Keeping with the eagle theme, the second poster is also ca 1917 and was done by artist James Henry Daugherty.  The image is a little dark, but when you see the poster close up the colors are very vibrant and eye-catching.  We have an even larger version of this poster and I love to look it.  The third picture ca 1918 by artist Albert Herter.  I had never seen a YMCA poster this old before, so I thought it was pretty neat.

This second group starts with another WWI era poster, ca 1917.  It clearly is trying to appeal to emotions.  The second poster is from 1917 and encourages people to buy bonds to aid the war effort.  The third is the only WWII poster in this group, being from ca 1944.  This poster was part of a set that warned soldiers/sailors about the dangers of booby traps, encouraging them away from scavenging for souvenirs to take home.  We have quite a lot of these in our collection!

Self Defence on the Deep Blue Sea

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The mail steamer Pembroke. From The Mariners' Museum collection.

Hello again readers, and welcome back to the Library blog. In maritime news today, the USNS Rappahannock opened fire on a small motorized vessel after the vessel repeated ignored warnings to stop approaching her. Since the attack on the USS Cole, ships have been exceedingly wary of small boats approaching them for fear of suffering the same fate. The matter is currently under investigation, and further information can be had here.

This incident comes almost exactly 149 years after a similar violent episode in the world of maritime commerce. In 1863, the unarmed American mail steamer Pembroke was not only approached but fired upon by an armed Japanese gunboat in the Shimonoseki straits. The Japanese gunboat was under the command of the rebellious Choshu clan that controlled the land on the northern bank of the strait, and the internal political tensions of the time lead the Choshu to disregard the laws of neutrality and directly attack foreign ships trying to use the straits, including the Pembroke.  On July 16th 1863, the USS Wyoming arrived at the straits and quickly destroyed the Choshu forts and ships there, making the way temporarily safe for commercial traffic.   Read more