The Port of Call Blog

Paintings in Rare Books

I keep saying to myself that I’ll pick up painting again, but I haven’t picked up a brush in a few years now..
Just the other day, I came across a couple of resources in the rare book collection that made me change my mind.

 

In Watercolor sketches of headlands on the South American coast (ca. 1830), a mystery artist provided several panoramic watercolor paintings. On some pages, we see ships alone on the water but others feature the coastal views of numerous lands. In the image of this Royal Navy vessel below, the caption reads, “HMS Dover anchoring near Rio during a heavy squall”.

HMS Doris anchoring at Rio during a heavy squall
 

In the next image of Harradura Point Coquimbo, we can see how the artist has provided us with some notes so that we may situate ourselves “NE by N”:
Harracuda
In this last image, I’ve zoomed in so you can see the details a little better.
Mafs

In Watercolor drawings of marine views by Frances Waring (1776-1840), we see another great example of watercolor paintings with a maritime theme.
Page 11 The Blucher
In this first image, we see a bit of a chaotic scene with a coal brig surrounded by other vessels. Can you believe this page at the following pages are about 8″ x 12″?

 

I instantly fell in love with this nighttime image of Dover:
Page 18 Dover at night

 

And this last one was fun.. The caption reads that this is “near Radipole – near Weymouth Aug 27th 1826″
Page 34 Near Radipole
I did a little searching to see if I could find a photo of the bridge, and this site came close with an image of a bridge in a Weymouth village: http://www.love-weymouth.co.uk/wp-content/gallery/radipole-village/radipole-village-weymouth-221.jpg

 

There are so many more images in both of these (and other) rare books that are worth a very long study. A favorite that comes to mind is a study of tropical fishes, but that’s another blog…
If you happen to view all there is to see on paintings in rare books, know that there are also a few logbooks that feature color and monochromatic paintings that were done while at sea! If you have a chance, come on in and be amazed by the detail and know that it’s one of a kind.

Good bye summer.. Hello fall and winter

I know the start of the fall season was a couple of weeks ago, but that last week of 80-90 degree weather just didn’t feel like autumn to me!

It’s now my favorite time of year where I can say goodbye to my sweltering car and the hum of the AC unit so I thought I would say farewell to the heat by sharing some great photographs that will make us miss summer…

8395          PI10
                              Children on grain barge in New York           Wisconsin lumberman carrying a canvas covered                                                       Photograph by Edwin Levick                  canoe   P0001.009/01/PI10

                                        P0002/1956.0001.008395

MS0451-004KNIPE

Fishing boat in the New River in Eggleston, Virginia

MS0541/004


For those of you who won’t miss it, here’s a little something to get us in the cold, wintry mood:

MS0404.001    MM051-PR97
                              Along the beach, Miyazaki, Japan                                 Great Lakes freighter                                                                        Photograph by Edwin Levinson                                        P0001.018/PR97

                                        MS0404/001

 

PP2624                  24273SOUTHSTREET
                         Homer Ferguson and wife                                             Snow on South St.

                              P00011.016/01/PP2624                                     Photograph by Edwin Levick   

                                                                                                       P0002/1956.0001.008395

There is so much more stunning photography to be seen. Stop by our warm reading room on a cold fall or winter day and enjoy these spectacular works!

Caring for the books in the library

Here at The Mariners’ Museum Library, we have thousands of rare books in our collection. They are not all in pristine condition like the ones at a bookstore.. These books have character. The downside is that they require a bit more care so that the resource remains available for the public to see. Let’s take a peek at what we do in the Library to care for these rare books.

Tying the book together
In the image above, we have Nystrom’s pocket-book of mechanics and engineering from 1887. The string adds a bit of charm and is nicely wrapped like a little gift, but it does have a purpose. Without the string, the book would sit on the shelf with its pages exposed because the leather cover has split from the spine as we can see in the image below.
Nystrom Full Bowtie
Many of our books are stored on the shelves in this fashion for a number of reasons. The pages inside may have separated from the spine and cover, the book may have an insert that was placed inside the cover instead of bound, or the cover is thin, unable to support the contents resulting in warped pages as it slumps on the shelf. Without the string, the book continues to wear through the years as other books move around it, or as we continue to bring it out for patrons.
The Damage That Bugs Can Do
Struys 1
Some of the books that we have in the collection have also been attacked by insects. In the image above, we can see just how much damage these little guys can do. They’ve eaten little holes and trails through this books by Struys: The voiages and travels of John Struys through Italy, Greece, Muscovy, Tartary, Media, Persia, East-India, Japan, and other countries in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Struys 2
It is hard to tell what kind of environment books have been exposed to before they come to us, so we make sure to freeze our books for two weeks whenever we see skittering critters coming out of the pages.
Foxing
Hist of VA Title page
Ok, my whole goal with this next part is to stop everyone from licking their finger before turning a page. The brown speckles all over this book above is what we call foxing… Or, a fancy word for a paper discoloration, or a fungus of an questionable origin. Some say it is due to the age of the paper but others say it is a result of fungal growth in a humid environment. In any case, we keep the stacks in a temperature and humidity controlled environment to stabilize whatever may be happening between the covers.
In the image below, we see a close-up of what you would be touching and licking when turning the page. Please, for your health and my stomach, don’t put this anywhere near your mouth.
Mold up close
Handling
Now it’s no secret around here that I am pretty short. That being said, it’s always tempting to stand on the tips of my toes to snag the spine of a book with my finger.. That’s what that little finger-sized gap is for, right? WRONG! By pulling a book down off of the shelf, especially a rare, fragile book, you risk tearing the spine or eventually ripping the whole spine off. The example below is what not to do and what happens as a result:
Spring wrong 2   Ripped spine

Pirate Imagery in the Rare Book Collection – Day 5

We are all gearing up for Pirates Pack the Park this weekend at The Mariners’ Museum and so I thought I’d share some of the Pirate treasures we have in the Library for each day leading up to the big event.
In The Pirates Own Book or authentic narratives of the lives, exploits, and executions of the most celebrated sea robbers, I’ll be sharing some of the illustrations and bits of history that still make the pirates from long ago so intriguing.
Here’s one for today:
The Pirate Banister, hanging at the Yard Arm
lewis
There are a couple of interesting stories here. I promise…
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Watching the execution of  the pirate Banister as a boy didn’t keep Captain Lewis away from the pirate life. As he grew into a young man, he took vessels here and there until he suddenly found himself with a crew of 40 men. Upon seeing a fine brigantine of 10 guns owned by Captain Tucker, Lewis sent him a letter offering 10,000 pieces of eight for the vessel, but if he did not comply, he would take the vessel “either by fair or foul means”. Very pirate-like!
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Capt. Lewis giving a lock of his hair to the Devil
Throughout his career, Lewis plundered and “did an abundance of mischief”, but his crew believed him to consort with the devil as they were in a chase to capture the ship of Captain Smith. The fore and main top-mast had been carried away, so Lewis went up to the main-top and tore off a handful of his hair saying, “Good devil, take this till I come”.
Afterwards, his vessel gained speed and was successful in capturing the ship of Captain Smith.
In time, he stated that he, “could not withstand his destiny; for the devil told him in the great cabin he should be murdered that night”. And he was killed after the sinking of his last French ship. In the dead of night after this last conquest, the French boarded his vessel, went into his cabin and killed Lewis.
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So there it is!
A whole week of pirates for you to get you into character and costume for The Mariners’ Museum Pirates Pack the Park event on Saturday, September 21, 2013 from 10am – 5pm.
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We hope to see you there! It would be ARR-ible for you to miss.
Sorry everyone… But hey, I made it the whole week without a pun!
See you tomorrow.

Pirate Imagery in the Rare Book Collection – Day 4

We are all gearing up for Pirates Pack the Park this weekend at The Mariners’ Museum and so I thought I’d share some of the Pirate treasures we have in the Library for each day leading up to the big event.
In The Pirates Own Book or authentic narratives of the lives, exploits, and executions of the most celebrated sea robbers, I’ll be sharing some of the illustrations and bits of history that still make the pirates from long ago so intriguing.
Here’s two for today:
Captain Mackra and the Pirate with a Wooden leg
peg
An honorable pirate? That’s not the first adjective that comes to mind when thinking about them, but Captain Mackra did meet a crew of honorable pirates in 1720. In service to the East India Company, Mackra sought out to kill a group of pirates when he found out that they were rebuilding a vessel for their captain and 40 other mates. As the fight went on, he soon found himself outnumbered, exhausted and wounded as more and more pirate adversaries arrived. After hiding out for a few days, he learned of a $10,000 ransom offered by the pirates so he quickly spread rumors of his death. Upon realizing his increasingly dismal situation, Mackra accepted the assurance that he would be safe if he boarded their pirate ship to negotiate.  He soon realized that he had sailed with many of the pirates in the past (which goes to show that connections matter if you happen to kill 90-100 pirates like Mackra).
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This quote was also an interesting :
“A singular incident was also very favorable to the unfortunate captain. It happened that a pirate, with a prodigious pair of whiskers, a wooden leg , and stuck round with pistols, came blustering and swearing upon the quarterdeck, inquiring, “Where was Captain Mackra”. He naturally supposed that this barbarous-looking fellow would be his executioner; but, as he approached, he took the captain by the hand, swearing “that he was an honest fellow, and that he had formerly sailed with him, and would stand by him; and let him see the man that would touch him”.
The even funnier part?
“England now pressed Mackra to hasten away, lest the ruffian, upon his becoming sober, should not only retract his word, but give liberty to the crew to cut him and his men to pieces”.

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The Algerians in the act of firing off the French consul from a mortar at the French fleet
mortar
This resource states that Algerian history features a constant stream of piracy.
In one example, the Algerians made their way along the coast of Province and committed the most dreadful ravages, killing, burning and destroying all that came in their way. In a flurry of bombs and fires that were destroying the city, Father Vacher, the French President, is shown above being bound by his hands and feet to a mortar as it is about to be fired off like a bomb against a French fleet.
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Once you take in the examples of a good pirate vs. bad pirate, take a close look at the clothing and accessories that they are wearing. At The Mariners’ Museum Pirates Pack the Park event on Saturday, September 21, 2013 from 10am – 5pm, we are attempting to break the world record for the largest gathering of pirates but it’s not enough to talk like one, or feel like one… You have to dress like one.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Wear a pirate hat or bandana
2. Wear a plain white t-shirt
3. Roll up your pant legs
4. Adorn yourself with an accessory (eye patch, jewelry, toy sword, etc.)
5. Be counted and in the park by 2PM-2:10 to be included in the count!
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 The current record is held by Hastings, England at 14,231.

Pirate Imagery in the Rare Book Collection – Day 3

We are all gearing up for Pirates Pack the Park this weekend at The Mariners’ Museum and so I thought I’d share some of the Pirate treasures we have in the Library for each day leading up to the big event.
In The Pirates Own Book or authentic narratives of the lives, exploits, and executions of the most celebrated sea robbers, I’ll be sharing some of the illustrations and bits of history that still make the pirates from long ago so intriguing.
Here’s two for today:
Capt. Kidd hanging in chains
kidd
They say Captain Robert Kidd was twice hung for murder because the first rope broke from his weight. A week after the second (successful) hanging at Execution Dock, the bodies of Captain Kidd and his crew members were hung up in chains and lined up along the river banks where they stayed for many years.
So what were some of the things he did to deserve this?
- He boarded a vessel and hoisted a man up by the arms and beat him with a cutlass in order to make him confess where the money was hidden… Too bad they didn’t have any on board. Instead, Kidd took a bale of pepper and a bale of coffee.
- He killed a gunner (albeit accidentally). The gunner stated that Kidd had ruined them all after he refused to attack a Dutch ship. After calling him a dog, Kidd struck him with a bucket and broke his skull.
- He burnt and pillaged houses in the Malabar Islands and had his men tie a man to a tree and shoot him
And so on…
 
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Unfortunately, Kidd missed a proclamation stating that any pirate who surrenders himself by the end of April 1699 will receive the king’s free pardon. Captain Kidd nine others were arraigned for piracy and murder on the high seas in May of 1701.
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The head of Benevides stuck on a pole
head
This gruesome image of Vincent Benevides was meant to terrify anyone else who dared to imitate him. He was dragged from the prison in a pannier that was tied to a mule, hung in a great square and later, his hands and head were cut off and placed on poles for display in the locations of his crimes: Santa Juona, Tarpellanca and Arauca.
In 1818, after deserting to the Spaniards during the Chilean revolution, Benevides returned from the grave and along with his band of robbers, slaughtered countless Araucan Indian men, woman and children to aid the Spanish troops. I say he returned from the grave because he was sentenced to death for defecting but he feigned death after being shot and stabbed. After his first “execution” he was dragged away and left to be eaten by the vultures, but he managed to hide until night fell and returned to exact his revenge on Chile.
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So Kidd and Benevides led violent and criminal lives, but I can almost guarantee that the pirates coming to The Mariners’ Museum Pirates Pack the Park event on Saturday, September 21, 2013 from 10am – 5pm will be quite tame in comparison.
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If you want to see how real pirates carried themselves, make sure to head over to the pirate encampments. You’ll see how they may have dressed, an example of the tools/weapons with which they made infamous history and, best of all, you get to hear them talk like pirates.

Pirate Imagery in the Rare Book Collection – Day 2

We are all gearing up for Pirates Pack the Park this weekend at The Mariners’ Museum and so I thought I’d share some of the Pirate treasures we have in the Library for each day leading up to the big event.
In The Pirates Own Book or authentic narratives of the lives, exploits, and executions of the most celebrated sea robbers, I’ll be sharing some of the illustrations and bits of history that still make the pirates from long ago so intriguing.
Here’s two for today:
Captain Roberts’ crew carousing at Old Calabar River.
drunk
Read about Captain Roberts and you’ll find out about his many tales of marauding, but in this book, you will learn of one way that pirates came across so much alcohol.
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Captain Bartholomew Roberts was introduced to the pirate life in 1719 when he was taken by the pirate Davis off of the Guinea Coast. From there he began capturing vessel after vessel, taking their goods and seizing, burning or sinking their ships. From Surinam to the Barbadoes and Tobago, Captain Roberts was a skilled pirate. In one case, he knew of a Dutch custom where you are to hoist your jack in order to signify that you wish to trade with the inhabitants of an island. Knowing this signal, many flocked to Captain Roberts with the hopes of a good trade only to find that his intent was to take their goods and destroy the vessel.
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This quote is great because it summarizes the success of his exploits well: “Roberts and his crew were so fortunate as to capture several vessels and to render their liquor so plentiful, that it was esteemed a crime against Providence not to be continually drunk” (page 92).
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Gibbs and Wansley burying the Money
bury
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Instead of being robbed of your goods by Captain Roberts, some pirates buried their valuables.
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Charles Gibbs was an “atrocious and cruel pirate” who once boarded the brig Vineyard as one of the crew. With William Thornby as Captain the crew was set to sail from New Orleans to Philadelphia with a wealth of cargo. It sounds pretty like a pretty ordinary voyage… Up until five days into the voyage when Gibbs heard about the 54,000 dollars in specie that was on board . With this information, he conspired with three other crew members, killed the captain and mate and overhauled the vessel.
The next day, they divided several kegs of the specie ($5,000 each), made bags and sewed the money shut. At a location about 15 miles S. S. E. of Southampton Light, they got into their boats with the money, scuttled and set fire to the vessel. Gibbs learned that the money belonged to Stephen Girard, went on the shore of Brown Island and buried the money very lightly in the sand… They were eventually tried and Gibbs was sentenced to death by public hanging for piracy and murder.
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If you want to celebrate with your crew Captain Roberts-style, come on out, have a refreshment, and see what’s going on at The Mariners’ Museum Pirates Pack the Park event on Saturday, September 21, 2013 from 10am – 5pm.
I don’t think that there will be any buried bags of money, but free admission to the PPP event is just as good nowadays.

Pirate Imagery in the Rare Book Collection – Day 1

We are all gearing up for Pirates Pack the Park this weekend at The Mariners’ Museum and so I thought I’d share some of the Pirate treasures we have in the Library for each day leading up to the big event.
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In The Pirates Own Book or authentic narratives of the lives, exploits, and executions of the most celebrated sea robbers, I’ll be sharing some of the illustrations and bits of history that still make the pirates from long ago so intriguing.
Here are two pirates for today:
Alwilda, the female pirate

Alwilda, daughter of the Gothic King Synardus, chose the life of a pirate when her father arranged her marriage to Alf, the Prince of Denmark. She sailed away with a crew of women all disguised as men and eventually came across another crew mourning the loss of their Captain. The crew was so enamored with her character that they chose her as their new Captain and gradually became a stronger power.
This power attracted the attention of Prince Alf, her would-be husband, who was ordered to interfere with this growing force. In the gulf of Finland, Alf boarded her vessel, killed most of her crew and finally seized her without knowing who she was. After removing her disguise, he finally recognized her as Alwilda and convinced her to take his hand in marriage while on board her vessel. They later shared his wealth and throne in Denmark (Page 14).

(Is that where the Pirates of the Caribbean got that awkward, swash-buckling marriage scene?)
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The pirates striking off the arm of Capt. Babcock.
Babcock
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Captain Babcock, of the English brig, Shannon, was on a voyage from Bombay to Bussorah when he was attacked near the islands of Polior and Kenn. The crew of the Shannon resisted and so it was decided by the pirates that a (body) part from each crew member would be put to the sword. One pirate claimed to see Captain Babcock fire upon others with his musket, so they thought it was only right that he “forfeit the arm by which this act of resistance was committed”. It says in this book that it was sliced off with one stroke of a sabre and the captain had to thrust his bleeding stump into warm clarified butter to stop himself from bleeding to death (page 42).
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Although there won’t be any conveniently located pots of clarified butter for your bloody stump, I’m sure there will be plenty of other delicious condiments to accompany all of the tasty treats you will find in the food trucks during the Pirate event. And don’t worry, there will be first responders if you somehow get a bloody stump at this family friendly event.
Come on out to see what’s going on at The Mariners’ Museum Pirates Pack the Park event on Saturday, September 21, 2013 from 10am – 5pm.
Who knows? You might find your Alwilda or your Alf among +14,000 pirates!

Museum and Library donor Norma Beazley featured on The New York Times website

Hello readers,

If you have a moment, I’d like to direct your attention to a touching article posted on The New York Times website. It features Norma Beazley and the story behind the numerous cruise ship menus that her late husband, Herbert, spent years giving to her.
Savoring a Bygone Splendor: The Maritime Menu

The Beazleys have generously donated hundreds of books and thousands of archival pieces at the start of 2012 and their contributions will eventually benefit other researchers and steamship ephemera enthusiasts around the world. To read more details about their donation, see this post by Jay Moore: 
Library receives major donation of steamship ephemera

And finally, if you just can’t get enough menus after reading the NYT article, take a peek at a couple of previous blog posts by Rachel Berman. She discusses some of the menus from an artistic standpoint, and the best part is that she provides spectacular images of some of the covers.
A New Addition to the Library’s Collection!
Food for Thought Series: What a Menu Can Teach About Art

Fair warning… A dark post

While researching in the stacks last week, I stumbled across something from our rare book collection that instantly grabbed my attention.

It’s a book with a lengthy title, so prepare yourself:

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The voiages and travels of John Struys through Italy, Greece, Muscovy, Tartary, Media, Persia, East-India, Japan, and other countries in Europe, Africa and Asia : containing remarks and observations upon the manners, religion, polities, customs and laws of the inhabitants, and a description of their several cities, towns, forts, and places of strength.

 

This book was written by John Struys in 1684 and features his account of the “dangers by shipwreck, robbery, slavery, hunger, torture, and the like”. It’s a very dark, yet interesting account and his illustrations add even more to this piece. Struys provides gorgeous renderings of the towns he saw, but also some gruesome depictions of scenes of torture and massacre.
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This image to the left is just the cover page… Does anybody else see what I see?

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Below are some of the “family friendly” plates taken from his book. I’ll be sure to warn you of the graphic images.


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City of Judia  Delos or Delphos
        City of Judia                                                           The Isle of Delphos
Card of the Caspian Sea  Tartars on horseback
The New Card of the Caspian Sea                                    Tartars on Horseback
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Ok readers. Clicking on the images below will open a new window showing Struys’ illustrations of massacre and torture. The third one is really the worst, but I thought I’d spare those who are squeamish.

Syam  astracan  Flead

 

If you are ever in the Library and you are curious to see what else Struys illustrated, come by in person and take a look at all of the details that are a bit difficult to see online.