Brushing off a little history

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The brush was removed from the starboard gun carriage, covered in mud and hard concretion.

Although my blogs to date give a very Dahlgren-centric view of what I do, there is far more to USS Monitor than just its guns. And I love having such a huge variety of objects to work on! In addition to big metal objects, we find a wide variety of organic objects, ranging from the wooden sides of the gun carriages to rope packing seals to a wool coat. We also have a number of brushes from on board the ship, including a nearly complete bench brush that I’ve been working on!

This brush was originally found stuck to one of the gun carriages, covered in mud and concretion – the hard, rocky material that forms around corroding iron. Although the brush itself is entirely organic – wood and fiber – it was so close to the iron of the gun carriage that it was caught inside concretion formed by that object. As a result, it didn’t look like much to begin with.   Read more

Posters part 3

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While we have a lot of beautiful and serious posters, I decided to focus this week on some of the posters that give me a good chuckle, whether they be rhymes from the shipyard to encourage workers or posters warning sailors and soldiers about the dangers of venereal disease.  It sometimes feels a little wrong to laugh at these as I know they were usually meant as serious warnings, but I just can’t help myself!  Anyways, enjoy these gems!

The first poster is one we acquired from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in 1962.  There is no information at the bottom of the poster and I have not found another one online, so I don’t know much about it, but I love the imagery of the messy pig.  The second came to us from the shipyard and was used to encourage their employees to work hard to help defeat the Nazis.  The line “And knocked Adolph square on his Axis” cracks me up every time!  The third poster is from 1945 and encourages sailors/soldiers to get an x-ray done.  I guess the idea is that if the big burly guy in the poster is willing to get his done, you should too.  It’s great that he is so happy with himself and sits there and smokes.  If only he knew what we know these days!   Read more

A good story

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USCS Robert J. Walker

At the end of the last post a story was promised, and really it is too interesting not to share. Here at the Monitor Center we are fortunate enough to have our own x-ray machine. Normally we use this device to x-ray concretions to determine what the artifact inside looks like. On a Thursday morning a couple of weeks ago, we were examining something a little different. Will, Fred – the conservator for the museum collection, and I were x-raying a painting.

Now this particular painting depicts the USCS Robert J. Walker, a survey ship that served in the United States Coast Survey from 1848 until it sank in 1860 resulting in the death of 20 crew members. The United States Coast Survey was an ancestor organization of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The Walker disaster was the greatest loss of life ever experienced by NOAA or any of its precursor organizations.  June 21, 2013 was the 153rd anniversary of the sinking; it was also World Hydrography Day. This year NOAA observed this day by honouring the men who lost their lives on the Robert J. Walker. They have also requested the painting as a loan from The Mariners’ Museum so that it can be displayed to commemorate these lost sailors.   Read more