Artifact of the Month- Apollo

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OF19

The museum owns one of the largest figurehead collections in the world, with 92 total either on display or in storage. One of the figureheads purchased by the museum in 1933 and currently hanging in our Great Hall of Steam is named Apollo. At first glance this figurehead seems like nothing out of the ordinary since many ships used Greek gods as figureheads. However, this specific figurehead has a much more interesting past than one would guess.

Apollo probably came from an American ship that wrecked off the coast of Norway. There were stories about this figurehead that seemed doubtful, until 2008 when Mr. Hultgren of a small Swedish museum contacted us looking for information about where Apollo was. As confirmed by Mr. Hultgren, after its ship wrecked Apollo was put in a village in Sweden named Mollӧsund. Apollo stood on a rock beside a flagpole there until we bought it in the early 1930’s. It is said that the children of the village had May Day exercises around the figurehead. In the village Apollo was nicknamed “The Old Man of Ferdinand”, and there are stories that parents would tell bad children to “behave or The Old Man will come and get you!”   Read more

Happy 4th!

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"My dear Taylor, present my friendly greeting to your sons, and give them the enclosed $10, to purchase materials for a glorious noise. Your friend, John Ericsson." Recieved July 4th, 1887. From The Mariners' Museum Collection.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the library blog. The 4th of July is a special day for all Americans: young and old, immigrant or native born, we can all share in the love of liberty that our Independence Day celebrates. John Ericsson, a Swedish immigrant and inventor of the USS Monitor, was no different. Although he was seen as by the public as veing arrogant, cold, hard edged and antisocial, Ericsson had a softer side as well. In a letter to his friend and personal secretary Samuel Taylor, Ericsson includes a gift to help Taylor’s family enjoy the festivities.

Ericsson’s letter means more than just entertainment for Taylor’s children. His kind gift and thoughtful gesture shows just that Ericsson was not the cold, haughty engineer that everyone thought him to be. He was also a man who could open his heart to others, and who felt how special our Independence Day can be. Perhaps we can take inspiration from his letter as we gather with friends and family this 4th of July to celebrate what it means to be an American. After all, what could be more American than helping kids launch fireworks?   Read more