Every Little Thing: A Look at an Artifact’s Pit-stop in Conservation before Going out on Loan

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Needles from sailmaker’s needle case. Photo credit: Paige Schmidt, The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Hello again, Mariners. If you don’t remember me, I’m the museum’s Assistant Objects Conservator. Recently, I’ve been working on several items that are going out on loan to various institutions next year. While only a couple of these projects will be very treatment intensive (probably more on those later…), I thought I’d share an example of the routine care and due diligence paid to every artifact prior to loan. Every little consideration is important to ensure the safety of an object while it is being appreciated elsewhere.

Our Collections Manager, Jeanne, asked me to look at this sailmaker’s needle case and needles (accessioned in 1934), which was requested for loan by the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown for an upcoming exhibit.   Read more

Not just big heads, historic survivors of the Blitz!

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Figurehead from 3rd rate ship HMS Edinburgh built in 1811. (Accession# OF75)

This week Brock needed to photograph a couple of the large figureheads on display in our lobby and it reminded me of their really interesting history.  I’m not talking about the history of the ships they came from, although I am sure that’s fascinating as well, in this instance I’m talking about their acquisition by the Museum and the sad story associated with it.

The two figureheads, from HMS Formidable and HMS Edinburgh, along with a large bow ornament from the HMS Alexandra, were acquired in England in 1939. The story begins when our agent in London, Admiral Bertram M. Chambers, made a visit to the famous Castles Shipbreaking Company Ltd. in January of 1936.   Read more

A local story for Armistice Day

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Prisoner-of-war armband worn by Henry R. Hendren. (Accession#: IB 156)

In honor of Armistice/Veterans day I thought I would tell one local man’s World War I story.  That man is Henry Redmond Hendren. Henry was born in Norfolk, Virginia on October 4, 1900 making him just 13 when the war started in Europe in July 1914.

For those of you who aren’t aware of Newport News history in World War I, here’s a little bit of backstory to help explain what happened to Henry. Just a few months after the start of World War I the British, who still relied heavily on the use of horses and mules to transport matériel and wounded on the battlefield, had exhausted Britain’s supply of animals. They looked to the United States to provide this necessary resource and established facilities to house and transport the animals—the largest in Missouri. Thank to our extensive railroad infrastructure and protected port, Newport News was chosen as an embarkation facility. Between late November 1914 and the end of the war Newport News became the biggest and most important shipper of horses and mules to the British army in Europe.   Read more

Giving the Dutch the What For in 1599

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One of my Facebook friends recently fussed with me about posting an image of Christopher Columbus on October 8th with the statement that it was probably the one time that a man refusing to ask for directions was a good thing. His comment? “Not for the natives.” So I thought I would relate this bit of history I learned while working on the Gallery Crawl as it was one of the times where the native population put the Europeans in their place.

16th century portrait of Ferdinand Magellan (Accession# QO 796)   Read more

The Rebirth of the 1906 Newport to Bermuda Race Trophy

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The 1906 trophy for the first Ocean Race to Bermuda after conservation.

In 1906 Thomas Fleming Day, editor of The Rudder magazine, established a 635-mile race to prove that amateur sailors in vessels under 80 feet could safely sail in the open ocean. While only three boats participated in the first race, the event, now the oldest regularly scheduled ocean race, typically fields 150 to 200 vessels.

The trophy for that very first race, created by Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co., Ltd. in London, was provided by yacht racing aficionado Sir Thomas Lipton (which is why it is sometimes referred to as the Lipton Cup).   Read more