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Charm in Unexpected Places

Happy Friday readers!

I’d like to take a minute to encourage you to view a great item that has just been posted on our Library website. It is a full-text, PDF version of a spec book from 1862! This item is usually restricted from public view due to its fragility, but, since we like you so much, we’ve made it accessible here!

The 74-page book, handwritten by Warren E. Hill, includes the specifications of the ironclads of the Passaic class. As a draftsman and engineer, he documents the specifications in a lengthy narrative, so I won’t go into too much detail there.

For those who are interested in some of the nitty-gritty, the book mentions the specifications for vessels like the Passaic, Montauk, Kaatskill, Patapsco, and Weehawken, as it is noted in the last two lines of the image below:

Apart from the technical nature of this book, at 150 years old this piece holds a lot of charm in things like the script, and for this plan of a Passaic-class hull line and armor belt illustrated on a piece of linen:

The script, as I mentioned, is interesting for its beauty that slowly transforms towards the end of the document. The letters are a bit more scrunched together, the characters are smaller and the ink is applied with less consistency, as you can see in this comparison:

Hey, we’re all human so let’s give Warren E. Hill a break. It is a wonderful resource that will soon have a transcript, courtesy of our wonderful library volunteers. I’ll be sure to keep you posted, but in the mean time, see if you can decipher it yourself!

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