Artifact of the Month- White Star Line

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White Star Line china
White Star Line china

This “Artifact of the Month” is a piece of china from the White Star Line.  The White Star Line was a prominent British shipping company and today is most known for its ship, RMS Titanic.  While our piece of china is not from the actual Titanic, it is very similar to what first class guests would have been served on aboard the ship and therefore is on display in a corner of our Great Hall of Steam Gallery with information and other objects relating to Titanic.

“Stonier Co. Liverpool” is stamped on the back of the plate, but in reality they did not make the china.  The Stonier company brokered and distributed the china.  The star featured in the center of the dish is the symbol of the White Star Line, which is also inscribed in the banner below the flag star.  The crown pattern around the plate originated from Brownfield, which gave this style its name.  As you can see in the photo, the gold gilt and turquoise embellishments really highlight the center emblem well.   Read more

Object of the Month- Fashion Scrimsaw

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Fashion Scrimshaw tooth.
Fashion Scrimshaw tooth.

For this month’s special artifact, I have selected one of the pieces from our scrimshaw collection. Now, I am personally not a fan of the idea of scrimshaw, but I thought it would be good to share what it is and the history behind it to our readers.  I picked this particular piece because of the two women depicted.

Before discussing our object, I want to share some about the art of scrimshaw. These pieces are usually made by sailors aboard whaling ships and often depict landscapes, while many are drawings of magazine illustrations, like particular one. The oldest examples of scrimshaw are from the 1600’s and are dutch made. However, scrimshaw did not become popular until 19th century New England whalers picked up the art.   Read more

Exploring the "Age of Exploration"

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Entrance to the Age of Exploration
Entrance to the Age of Exploration

As my time here at the Mariners’ Museum comes to a close, I’ve realized that I know our collection very well, but I only know a little about our exhibitions.  I want to use my last couple of weeks here to discuss some of our exhibitions and explore them for myself! For my first one I looked at the Age of Exploration.

We all learn about the explorers who sailed the Atlantic in the 15th-17th centuries at a young age.  Here at the Mariners’ Museum, we have a great collection of exploration artifacts and a VERY thorough explanation of this era in history.  While the amount of stuff in the gallery may be a little overwhelming, there is a wealth of information to go with it.   Read more

Go Figure! (-Belle of Oregon)

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The Belle of Oregon Figurehead
The Belle of Oregon Figurehead

Hello there! This week I want to share the Belle of Oregon with you! She is a beautifully crafted figurehead with her dress being my favorite part. This figurehead was a part of the ship Belle of Oregon,  thus given her name. She was built in 1876 by Gross and Sawyer in Bath, ME and the figurehead was carved by Charles Sampson. We acquired her in 1940, but prior to that the figurehead was displayed in the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture in New York City. In 1996-1997 she was featured in the Mariners’ Museum exhibit The Art of the Ship Carver.

The Belle is wearing an off the shoulder neckline bodice with a scalloped wheat design and bows on the sleeves. The hemline of the dress is also scalloped. She is wearing a cape with a sun-burst patter, which cannot be seen in the image above. She is holding something that looks like a pineapple, but really it is an oversize wheat sheaf.  This is because Belle of Oregon (the ship -not the figurehead) transported wheat between the West and Boston, Queenstown and Melbourne. In 1894, she was converted into a coal barge and also carried railroad material.   Read more

Go Figure! (-Galatea)

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Figurehead of Galatea, sea nymph.
Figurehead of Galatea, sea nymph.

This week in “Go Figure!” I have selected a figurehead with a little bit of history and mythology! As far as her background, we have two versions of her history but for the most part we have a good idea about where she came from. In terms of mythology, there is also two versions of the story that she is associated with and I will share both.

Captain Yngve Eiserman told “The Cape Argus,” Cape Town Africa that she came from a clipper ship Galatea. She was originally an American ship but then was bought by Germans. In 1882, she was battered in a storm and was taken to Cape Town for repairs. From here, the damages were too expensive to fix and the ship was condemned. The figurehead we have today was saved by a Mr. Stevens and was then purchased by Charles Bleach. Bleach displayed the sea nymph figurehead at a hotel until it was moved to the South Africa Museum for safe keeping.   Read more