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About Brian Goodison-Blanks
Brian Goodison-Blanks is the Head of the Maritime and Sporting Department at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood. He is based at Honiton in Devon.
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The material published in this web log is for general purposes only. It does not constitute nor is it intended to represent professional advice. You should always seek specific professional advice in relation to particular issues. The information in this web log is provided "as is" with no warranties and confers no rights. The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions.

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Review Entries for Day Friday, August 09, 2019

There is always a history behind the items brought in for auction and in some cases there is a fascinating story of the person to whom they belong.

donald craig's wwii medal group and ephemera relating to his service and capture during operation title

Donald Craig's WWII Medal Group and ephemera relating to his service and capture during Operation Title 

Donald Craig was born in Wadebridge, Cornwall in 1913 and emigrated to Canada with his family around 1920. In 1933 he returned to England and joined the Royal Engineers seeing action in the Atlantic and Palestine. As a qualified diver in 1941 he transferred to the Special Service Brigade (Special Boat Service) and in 1942 was part of Operation Title using manned torpedo 'chariots' to attack the German battleship Tirpitz in Asenfjord,Norway. After the chariots were lost during a storm on the 31st October, the raid against Tirpitz was called off. The fishing boat Arthur which was used to tow the chariots was then scuttled at Breidvik and nine of the team members reached Sweden. One member was captured by the Germans and later shot as a spy. Operation Title was the inspiration behind the film 'Above Us the Waves' and the later Operation Source X-craft midget submarine attacks on the Tirpitz. After the war Donald Craig was commissioned to the RNVR MFU Training taking command of HMS Varbel (MA19/252).
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Friday, August 09, 2019 3:19:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Monday, August 05, 2019

Francis Davies (1885-1952) was a sailor who had a remarkable career participating in many expeditions to the Antarctic regions during what can only be described as ‘The Heroic Age of Polar Exploration. Francis Davies began his apprenticeship in the Royal Navy in 1900 at the Royal Naval Barracks, Devonport and no doubt took with him his silver cigarette case engraved with his initials ‘FD’(MA19/9)

 francis davies silver cigarette case and vesta case taken on the terra nova and discovery ii expeditions

Francis Davies silver cigarette case and vesta case taken on the Terra Nova and Discovery II Expeditions 

Francis Davies travelled to China and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1906, joined Captain Scott aboard RYS Terra Nova during The British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913 and saw service with the Grand Fleet and Operations in the White Sea, Archangel and Baltic 1914-1918.  During 1927-1934 he was part of the Discovery II Expeditions aboard RRS Discovery II and RRS William Scoresby undertaking scientific research of the whaling industry in the Antarctic and the Circumnavigation of the Antarctic during the winter of 1933. The RRS Discovery II and RRS William Scorseby also undertook planktonic and hydrographical surveys off the coast of Argentina, Chile, Peru and South Africa for the Colonial Office on behalf of the Falkland Islands. Francis Davies also served during World War II in many theatres including the evacuation of Norway in 1940 and in the post –war period took passage as ship’s mate on a trawler to Cape Town in 1947. Throughout that time Francis Davies carried his silver cigarette case made in Birmingham in 1900. A small piece of the Francis Davies Polar Archive it is possibly the most travelled Antarctic cigarette case there is.
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Monday, August 05, 2019 3:41:26 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, July 30, 2019

After his experiences sledging during the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913, and the loss of Captain Scott and his Polar Party on their return from the South Pole, Francis Davies spent a considerable amount of time designing his own version of a polar sledge (MA19/2) Many previous expeditions to Antarctica and even the North Pole had used variations of a ‘Nansesn’ pattern sledge (MA19/27). Designed by Fridjof Nansen in 1888 when he undertook his crossing of Greenland, the sledge was designed to be light but strong enough hold all of the equipment needed and be hauled by six men.

a 'nansen' pattern polar sledge similar to those used on the british antarctic expedition 1910-1913

A 'Nansen' pattern polar sledge similar to those used on the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913. 

Francis Davies had experienced first-hand the extreme environment of the Antarctic and also of the sheer effort of hauling a polar sledge in such conditions. In a letter to Dr Atkinson written by Francis Davies aboard HMS Sandhurst in 1920 he outlined his design for a covered polar sledge stating ‘I have been trying to evolve a type of sledge that would protect the human element from the biting winds whilst on the march’.   He goes on to say that he had considered many mechanical ideas but they failed due to excessive weight. In Francis Davies opinion ‘ … the only reliable means on travel in the Antarctic is by man hauled sledge.’

 a letter from francis davies to dr atkinson in regard to his polar sledge design.

A letter from Francis Davies to Dr Atkinson in regard to his Polar sledge design.

 francis davies design for a covered polar sledge dated 1920.

Francis Davies design for a covered polar sledge dated 1920.

Certainly Francis Davies training as a Royal Naval Carpenter and his draughtsmanship are clearly shown in his excellent design for a covered polar sledge. The four man team is covered and the polar sledge is propelled along by the men walking on an endless track within a well inside the sledge. What response Francis Davies received from the Admiralty on his design is not known, but as someone who had experienced the harsh biting winds of Antarctica you can imagine he had thoughts of his departed colleagues in mind as he drew up his design.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2019 3:09:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, July 24, 2019

As part of the Discovery II Expeditions to the South Seas and Antarctic regions the RRS Discovery II and RSS William Scoresby travelled to the Falkland Islands to undertake a survey of penguins. Francis Davies travelled aboard the RSS William Scoresby and collected a number of photographs and mementos along the way. Induced in the Francis Davies Polar Archive is an interesting version of the Falkland Island flag.

the 1865-1925 version of the falkland island flag collected by francis davies during the discovery ii expeditions

The 1865-1925 version of the Falkland Island flag collected by Francis Davies during the Discovery II Expeditions

The system for British Colonial flags was established in 1865 when the practice of the defacement of the blue ensign with the ‘seal’ or ‘badge’ of the colony was introduced. The Falkland Islands seal was approved in 1865 depicting a bullock on the shore and a sailing ship in the distance. This ‘Bullock Triumphant’ version was the official seal from 1865 to 1925 but was probably in use up until the 1940s when it was altered to the sheep above ship version. A little tattered and torn from the cold winds of the South Seas, it is a nice memento within the Francis Davies Polar archive of his numerous journeys to the Antarctic regions

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019 3:11:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, July 23, 2019

As a globe maker Nathaniel Hill (fl,1746-1748) had impeccable credentials, which is why he is perhaps one of the most sought-after makers of the 18th century. Nathaniel Hill was apprenticed to the map maker, surveyor, publisher and globe maker Richard Cushee (1696-c1734) who worked at the sign of the Globe & Sun between Chancery Lane and St Dunstan’s Church, London.

 

nathaniel hill (fl.1746-1748) a 2 inch pocket globe:, signed 'a new terrestrial globe by nath hill 1754'

Nathaniel Hill (fl.1746-1748) a 2 inch pocket globe:, signed 'A New Terrestrial Globe by Nath Hill 1754'

 
Nathaniel Hill originally worked as a surveyor on the Fens in Yorkshire and also around London. In 1731 Richard Cushee took Nathaniel Hill on as an apprentice and from there he established himself as one of the finest globe makers of the 18th century. It is interesting to note that the globe displays California as a Peninsula and the North-West Atlantic Coast is titled ‘Unknown parts’. It would not be until over a century later that the ‘Northwest Passage’ would finally be known and not until 1906 when Roald Amundsen finally travelled the complete passage.
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Tuesday, July 23, 2019 3:17:32 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Friday, July 12, 2019

 After taking part as a crew member of the British Antarctic ‘Terra Nova’ Expedition 1910-1913, Francis Davies remained in contact with several fellow crew members and scientists throughout his lifetime.

One of Francis Davies strongest friendships was that with the Terra Nova’s captain Harry Pennell (1882-1916) in fact Francis Davies even gave his son ‘Pennell’ as his middle name. The strength of this bond is seen within Francis Davies Polar Collection in a letter from Harry Pennell written aboard HMS Queen Mary during World War One. Harry Pennell was Commander of HMS Queen Mary at the time and writes to Francis Davies of his concerns regarding Sir Ernest Shackleton during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917 of which Pennell writes ‘Undoubtedly and Expedition will have to be sent to the Weddell Sea this next season to try and relieve Sir Ernest’.

 a letter from harry pennell to francis davies on his concern for sir ernest shackleton.

 A letter from Harry Pennell to Francis Davies on his concern for Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Harry Pennell goes on to write about other expedition members Williams and Nelson and their wartime situations, in particular the fact that Nelson was now the only original officer of his regiment surviving the war. The letter is a glimpse into the relationship of two men who understood the perils of Polar Exploration and of war. It is even more pertinent when one considers the date on which Harry Pennell writes to Francis Davies, the 11th May 1916. Harry Pennell was to be killed on the 31st May 1916 aboard HMS Queen Mary when she was sunk during the Battle of Jutland
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Friday, July 12, 2019 4:37:33 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Amongst a number of items of Polar Exploration to be included in Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s next Specialist maritime auction, is a rare and well preserved Arctic exploration sledge flag for Admiral George Richards CB, Commander of HMS Assistance in Sir Edward Belcher's expedition of 1852/3/4 in search of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror of Sir John Franklins Lost Expedition of 1845. The silk flag with Admirals Richard's personal heraldry comprising a lamb and flag crest with motto 'Laus Deo' (Praise God) in white silk on a blue reserve, is mounted in a glazed frame with inscription,

arctic exploration sledge flag for admiral george richards cb, commander of hms assistance    

Arctic exploration sledge flag for Admiral George Richards CB, Commander of HMS Assistance   

'This Banner was carried to the Arctic Regions by Admiral Richards CB. when Commander of HMS Assistance, in Sir E Belcher's Expedition 1852.3.4 in search of the Erebus and Terror, under Sir J Franklin. After wintering at the Head of Wellington Channel in 76°55' N. Lat it was taken, in the Spring of 1853 to Melville Island and floated on every conspicuous height discovered, and having accomplished near 1000 miles, it was returned to HMS Assistance. Passing a second Winter it was again carried on a Sledge journey down the Channel westward and through Barrow Straits, and again returned after a sojourn of 73 days on the Sledge. On reaching England in 1854 it was presented to Mr Barrow. When the late Expedition of 1875 was fitted out under Capt now Sir George Nares KCB it was carried up Smiths Sound and hoisted on Cape Joseph Henry in Lat 83° N. On its return to England it was restored to Mr Barrow who bequeaths it to the family of Adml Richards'

 admiral george richards cb, commander of hms assistance in sir edward belcher's expedition of 1852/3/4 in search of hms erebus and hms terror of sir john franklins lost expedition of 1845.

Admiral George Richards CB, Commander of HMS Assistance in Sir Edward Belcher's expedition of 1852/3/4 in search of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror of Sir John Franklins Lost Expedition of 1845. 

Admiral George Henry Richards was captain of HMS Assistance under the command of Sir Edward Belcher on the Admiralty's last and largest Expedition to search for survivors of Sir John Franklin's Expedition of the Northwest Passage in 1845. In the early winter of 1850 the Assistance and the steam tender Pioneer became frozen in the ice off Northumberland Sound in the Wellington Channel forcing much of the searching to be undertaken by sledge. As sledges were man-hauled at this time by the men themselves they were treated in some degree as boats and each sledge named. The idea originated with Captain Horatio Austin who whilst leading a similar search in 1850 intended that sledge flags would "...retain esprit de corps, and a naval atmosphere,..' .The flags were usually the personal badge of the commanding officer who led the team on foot, carrying a gun ahead of the crew for protection. A similar sledge flag for Lieutenant Bedford Pim by Lady Franklin is held in the National Maritime Museum. A sledge flag used by Scott on his first Expedition of 1900-1904 made by his mother hangs in Exeter Cathedral.
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Wednesday, April 05, 2017 8:26:22 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Donald McNarry FRSA (1921-2010) is widely acknowledged among model ship builders as the master craftsman of extreme miniature model building. 

 a waterline model of the 20 -gun sixth-rate frigate hms tartar (1734) modelled by donald mcnarry frsa

 A waterline model of the 20 -gun Sixth-rate frigate HMS Tartar (1734) modelled by Donald McNarry FRSA 

Born in Walthamstow, February 21st, 1921 he took up model building as a boy and began entering competitions at the age of nine, winning several prizes at the annual Model Engineer Exhibition. In an early letter to the judges he expressed his dismay that his models were to be categorised as 'junior' rather than be judged against the 'proper' ship models.    

 an exceptional 16' 1" scale admiralty navy board style model of the 17th century eight gun royal yacht hmy charles (1675) modelled by donald mcnarry frsa:

An exceptional 16' 1" scale Admiralty Navy board style model of the 17th century eight gun Royal Yacht HMY Charles (1675) modelled by Donald McNarry FRSA: 

After serving with the Gordon Highlanders during the Second World War he continued to make models in his spare time, describing many of the models made between 1946 and 1953 in his first published book 'Shipbuilding in Miniature ' in 1955. It was also at this time he changed from 'amateur' model builder to freelance professional model maker, creating over 350 models of historic ships from 700BC to the late 1960s.   Working in either 100ft to one inch or 16ft to one inch, the models though small, contained as much detail as others executed on larger scales. Donald's wife Iris often helped with early models producing the sails and Donald even used strands of his own hair for rigging on these models before thinner wires and filaments became available. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  

 an exceptional 16' 1" scale model of the us brig 'lexington' (1775) modelled by donald mcnarry frsa

An exceptional 16' 1" scale model of the US brig 'Lexington' (1775) modelled by Donald McNarry FRSA 

Examples of his work can be found in the Royal Collection, but he was particularly sought after by American Collectors and modellers. Some of his models can be seen at The Peabody Essex Museum, The Smithsonian and the Mariner's Museum. The quality and detail of his work is perhaps best acknowledged by his overall attitude as described in his own words in the introduction of his first book;

 

'I believe one of the most important things is to try and build miniature ships instead of ship models'

 

 
These three models of the US Lexington, HMY Chares and HMS Tartar are included in Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s next Specialist Maritime Auction of the 14th June 2017. For further information please contact Brian Goodison-Blanks bgb@bhandl.co.uk
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Wednesday, March 08, 2017 9:28:52 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, January 18, 2017

If you missed attending the auction of The Anthony & Yvonne Pardoe Collection of Diving Helmets and Equipment  at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood (SS02)  some catalogues from the sale are still available for £10 each.

the antony & yvonne pardoe collection of diving helmets & equipment

The Antony & Yvonne Pardoe Collection of Diving Helmets & Equipment

 

Fully illustrated with over 150 diving helmets, diving pumps, boots knives and diving accessories it is a useful reference for anyone with a passion for collecting historic diving equipment.

Entries for the next Specialist Maritime Auction of the 14th June 2017 are currently invited.  For further information please contact Brian Goodison-Blanks bgb@bhandl.co.uk

 

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017 4:26:22 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The basic principle of a diving helmet is relatively simple, so much so that over the years many budding explorers have made their own diving helmets and used them to great effect. Most of these homemade helmets, such as the one seen here made from a gas cylinder with a single air supply, have been for use in shallow water. 

 a homemade diving helmet constructed from a gas cylinder.

A homemade diving helmet constructed from a gas cylinder.

These have copied the basic designs of shallow water helmets like the Miller Dunn ‘Divinhood’ style one, in which the air escapes from under the shoulders of the diver (though it looks incredibly like a Minion character!) In order to go deeper, the more common standard diving dress is required such as those supplied by Siebe Gorman & Co and CE Heinke & Co.

 a miller dunn divinhood style helmet.

A Miller Dunn Divinhood style helmet.

But what if you look at this equipment and think ‘I know, I’ll make my own diving gear’?

In cataloguing the Tony and Yvonne Pardoe Collection of Diving Helmets and Equipment, there is one particular homemade diving helmet that has quite a remarkable story to its creation. Though the book does not provide any names or details, the images show a Swedish farmer who had lost his tractor through the ice, diving into the cold water using a helmet and equipment he had made himself.

The red painted helmet has clear weld marks to the domed section and is fitted with an engine drain tap in place of a spitcock. His ingenuity does not stop there as he even made his own diving weights using canvas and lead as well as using an old car headlamp as a diving lamp. 

As well as these pieces, he constructed his own diving knife and by using and old suitcase and speaker, made his own diver telephone with which to communicate to his friends on the surface.

 a set of homemade standard diving equipment made by a swedish farmer.

A set of homemade standard diving equipment made by a Swedish farmer.

Certainly comparing this homemade diving helmet to those made by Siebe Gorman, Heinke and Morse the extent of the farmer’s skills is evident in the quality of his work in producing a practical and functional diving helmet.  He was certainly brave enough to trust his own work and was even successful at locating the tractor beneath the ice and recovering it.

A truly remarkable man and an unusual provenance to this diving helmet should raise considerable interest when it comes up for auction on the 15th June 2016.

 

sweidsh farmer who made his own diving equipment

sweidsh farmer using his hoemmade diving equipment

swedish farmer and diving support team

Various shots of the Swedish farmer using his home made
diving equipment, which he used to recover a tractor.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016 8:55:02 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Monday, February 01, 2016

If any auctioneer ever says to you ‘seen one, you’ve seen them all’ then politely ask them to finish their cup of tea and leave.  If there is one thing that cataloguing the Tony and Yvonne Pardoe Collection of Diving Helmets and Equipment has taught me, it is that there are a vast number of variations of a single item that means, as an auctioneer, you can never stop learning.

 

 an early 12 bolt sqaure corselet diving helmet by ce heinke & co ltd

An early 12 bolt sqaure corselet diving helmet by CE Heinke & Co Ltd.

Diving helmets are instantly recognisable from their basic shape, which has essentially remained unchanged for over 100 years.  Even today you can still buy a figure in a diving helmet and suit for your fish tank at home! The large copper bonnet with small windows, the weighted chest plate and the umbilical cord airline remains the basic principal behind its use, but seeing such a collection of diving helmets together in preparation for an auction  later on in the year, shows how solutions to the development of diving helmets and technology have produced various results.

 

 a us navy mark v helium re-breather diving helmet by morse (front).

A US Navy Mark V Helium Re-Breather Diving Helmet by Morse (front).

From this early 12 bolt diving helmet with square corselet by CE Heinke with breast plate air outlet through to the rather Steampunk looking Mark V helium re-breather by Morse, the variations in the Tony and Yvonne Pardoe collection are quite simply fascinating. Taking time cataloguing the collection has been an interesting and educational experience.

 

a us navy mark v helium re-breather diving helmet by morse (side).

A US Navy Mark V Helium Re-Breather Diving Helmet by Morse (front).

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Monday, February 01, 2016 6:22:56 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, June 09, 2015

A historic piece of Royal Navy history has been consigned to Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s forthcoming Maritime Auction of 1st July 2015 in the form of a Royal Navy Life preserver from HMS Hood (MA15/290)

 

a war department issue life preserver for hms hood

A War Department issue life preserver for HMS Hood 

 
Inscribed in black text to the front with the ship’s name, the reverse has War Department markings, that though faded are a good indication of the origins of this piece.  It was acquired by the vendor’s father while on holiday in Scotland in the 1930s who bought it at auction and it has remained within the family ever since. It is most likely possible that it was taken from the ship during her major refit May 1929-March 1931 and sold as a souvenir by an enterprising sailor. As well as the pride of the Royal Navy the Hood also attracted a great deal of public support and following during her showing the flag exercises in the 1920s, her sinking having a dramatic affect worldwide.
Souvenirs from the Hood were taken by visitors to the ship in the 1920s and 1930s, like the brass Dolphin fitting (MA13/124A) and the rowing blade trophy (SC19/644).  These pieces are very few and far between as many remain within private collections.
For further information please contact Brian Goodison-Blanks goodisonblanksb@bhandl.co.uk
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Tuesday, June 09, 2015 2:07:18 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s forthcoming Maritime Auction on 1st July 2015 has a touch of Royalty with the inclusion of several pieces of tableware from the Royal Service of the Royal Yacht Victoria & Albert III. Decorated with the Royal cypher and entwined within a maritime themed decoration, the service was made by Spode and supplied by the prestigious firm of Thomas Goode of London.

 

 

An ice bucket and coffee can from the Royal Service of HMY Victoria & Albert III

HRY Albert & Victoria III was launched in 1899 and finally ready for service in 1901. Expenditure for her was increased as it was pointed out that both the Russian Tzar and German Kaiser had larger yachts than Great Britain. Her launch was delayed as the consistent updating of her fittings led to redevelopment of her hull and the addition of extra ballast. This extra weight caused her to fall while in dry dock, delaying her launch even further whilst repairs were carried out. Serving four sovereigns, she was finally decommissioned in 1939 and served as a depot ship during WWII.

The quality of the service indicates that at the time that no expense was spared in fitting out and providing for Royalty and dignitaries, a fashion that continued as Ocean Liners became the height of fashionable travel during the first half of the 20th century.

Further entries are currently invited for the sale. For further information, please contact Brian Goodison-Blanks bgb@bhandl.co.uk.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015 4:55:01 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Thursday, April 09, 2015

A recent consignment to Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s forthcoming auction of Maritime and Nautical Antiques on 1st July 2015, this scale model of the RMS Queen Mary made for Hamley's of London, still brings out the child in all collectors. It is fitting that the one of the world’s greatest Ocean Liners of the early 20th century should have had a scale model version being sold in Hamley's, perhaps the world’s greatest toy shop. The detailing of the model is in keeping with the RMS Queen Mary herself, with elegant decking and detail to attention in her funnels and masts. 

 

a scale model of rms queen mary made for hamleys of london

A scale model of RMS Queen Mary made for Hamley's of London 

Pond yachts and model boats were a popular pastime with many children and adults in the late 19th and early 20th century, many parks still have a small boating pond even to this day. Collectors will certainly be enthralled by the original condition of this model made for Hamley's, even despite showing signs of perhaps a few unsuccessful voyages, with a pre-sale estimate of £300-£400.

Further entries are currently invited for the sale. For further information, please contact Brian Goodison-Blanks bgb@bhandl.co.uk.
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Thursday, April 09, 2015 4:41:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Saturday, March 07, 2015

With the recent solar eclipse, it is a reminder of man’s fascination with the stars and planets and his endeavours to comprehend them. Astrology has been an important and practical part of history for centuries, and a consignment to the Scientific Instrument section of the forthcoming Maritime Auction of 1st July 2015, reminds us of this. This late 18th century orrery by W Jones of London has a delicate system of gears that rotate an ivory earth with moon around a central gilt sun with an indicator pointing to the seasons, month and star signs. (Estimate £3,000-£4,000) 

     

 A late 18th century orrery by W Jones of London 

Understanding the planets and stars has helped mariners navigate around the globe with sextant and compass for centuries and the Maritime Auction is in part a celebration of the ‘Golden Age of Sail’. Along with the many navigational and scientific Instruments already consigned to the auction, are a number of other maritime and nautical themed antiques that make the auction a popular event on Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s calendar at their West Country Salerooms.  
Further entries are currently invited for the sale. For further information, please contact Brian Goodison-Blanks  bgb@bhandl.co.uk.
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Saturday, March 07, 2015 3:13:36 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, June 04, 2014
HMS Victory is perhaps the most iconic ship of Nelson’s career, but what of her predecessor?

HMS Foudroyant is a ship perhaps better known to the Victorians than to many people today, but her significance in Nelson's career was equally as important as the Victory.

 

 hms foudroyant wall cabinet constructed form ship's timbers and copper est £5000-7000

HMS Foudroyant wall cabinet constructed form ship's timbers and copper. Est £5,000-£7,000.

 

Laid down in 1789, this was the second ship to be given the name Foudroyant and was the second two-decker to be built carrying 80 guns. Modelled upon the French Foudroyant, Nelson took great interest in her development and had intentions of making her his flagship as soon as she was launched, but took the Vanguard instead as Foudroyant had not yet been completed.

Nelson transferred his flag to the Foudroyant in 1799 while dealing with the return of the Neapolitan Royal family to Naples, she returned under the flag of Captain John Clarke Searle in June 1801. Foudroyant returned home after the Napoleonic wars to become the guardship of Plymouth in 1819 and was converted to a gunnery training ship in 1862, a role she undertook until 1894 when she returned to port duties.

In 1891, she was sold out of service and immediately resold to a German shipbreaking company, the ensuing public protest led to her being repurchased by Wheatly Cobb who refitted her as a training ship. In order to recoup the £20,000 cost of refitting she was taken around English seaside resorts for exhibition, but was wrecked at Blackpool in 1897 during a violent storm. The wreck was sold for £250 to a Mr Hayhurst who began to dismantle the ship, but relinquished the task when a passer by was injured by a dynamite blast, after which she was purchased by the Manchester firm of Goodall Lamb & Heighway.

 
This cabinet is styled in the form of the stern of the great ship and should attract a great deal of interest in the Maritime Sale of 11th June 2014 (MA14/179).
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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 10:10:26 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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The next specialist Maritime Sale on 11th June 2014 at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood's Westcountry auction centre in Exeter, has a number of pieces relating to Lord Nelson and his career.

Perhaps the most interesting is a short note in Nelson's own hand writing (MA14/147)  to a Mr Lovell on September 3rd 1803, discussing the shipment of a pipe of best port wine to Canterbury.

 

a hand written letter by lord horatio nelson 1st viscount nelson

A hand written letter by Lord Horatio Nelson 1st Viscount Nelson.

 

Nelson's handwriting and signature of this period are very distintice, due to him having to adapt to using his left hand after loosing his arm at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.  Nelson's difficulty with writing often  meant his correspondances had apologies for not being longer.  This short note asking the shipment of port to be sent to a D Nelson of Canterbury could refer to Nelson's older brother William Nelson, who was Prebendary of Canterbury 1803-1805.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 9:10:06 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Thursday, June 06, 2013

It had often been thought that Victorian sailors who were miles away from loved ones and feeling homesick, would while away the hours of solitude by producing shellwork valentines as a present for their betrothed upon their return.

 

a 19th century bermudan shellwork valentine

A 19th century Bermudan shellwork valentine (MA12/212)

In truth it is difficult to imagine that a burly man aboard a rolling ship would have the time and patience to sort and stick hundreds of shells in the delicate patterns that we see today at auction. The complex patterns of flowers and compass designs are increasingly popular with collectors. Usually in on octagonal case and in two sections, they can make up to £7,000 for a good example.

No doubt these valentines were gratefully received by WAGS waiting on the beach for the return of their bow. However, research has since shown that the majority of 19th shellwork valentines were in actual fact bought by sailors visiting Barbados, and were made by local women on the island. Despite the truth having been uncovered, the romantic notion of these pieces having been made aboard ship by a love struck sailor survives, as does their demand at auction. The Bermudan shellwork valentine example seen here in Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s forthcoming Maritime sale of 12th June 2013 is expected to achieve £350-£450. 

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Thursday, June 06, 2013 9:49:12 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Honiton | Maritime | Scrimshaw & Sailors Art | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Wednesday, June 05, 2013

When Herman Melville (1819-1891) wrote Moby Dick (1851), he produced not only one of the greatest works of literature, but also an important historical record of the Nantucket whaling industry in the 19th century. Included within one of Ishmael’s narratives is a reference to the art of scrimshaw or ‘scrimshander’ that is as popular today, as it was at the time of Melville’s writing. 

 

a 19th century scrimshaw decorated tooth with britannia decoration

A 19th century scrimshaw decorated tooth with Britannia decoration (MA13/227)
Estimate £200-£300

The design and decoration varies a great deal depending upon the age of the piece and of course the skill of the artist. Simple ship portraits and whaling scenes are the most common to be found for a few hundred pounds at auction, the value increasing with better detail and naming of known ships. Of course being at sea for months at a time inevitably led to more erotic scenes being produced (some even dispelling the myth that the Victorian’s were prudish!) and these can make up to several thousand pounds in a Maritime sale

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s Maritime sale of 12th June 2013, Dowell Street, Honiton has a number of pieces of scrimshaw included in the sale with varying degrees of decoration. The 19th century scrimshaw shown here (MA13/227) is a good example with an interesting interpretation of Britannia to one side and should easily surpass its pre-sale estimate of £200-£300.
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Wednesday, June 05, 2013 8:34:53 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Honiton | Maritime | Scrimshaw & Sailors Art | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Monday, June 03, 2013

The fate of the Titanic would appear to have signalled the end of an era of the great Ocean Liners and of The White Star Line in particular. However, the company survived and moved forward into the 20th century, continuing to provide a high level of service that has now become known as ‘White Star Service’. 

 

  a white star line earthenware bouillon stand

 A White Star Line earthenware bouillon stand (MA13/16)

Though the company has been through several phases since the era of the Olympic class ships by merging with its greatest rival Cunard in 1936 and remains as part of the Carnival Corporation today, collectors are still mesmerised by the majesty and beauty of some of the most famous (and infamous) ships of the White Star Fleet.

The decadence of the late Edwardian period was taken to extremes to provide the most lavish service and comfort aboard ship. Everything from the cabin fixtures and fittings, even down to a simple bouillon stand seen here (MA13/16), were chosen to remind the passengers of the sparing of no expense.

While only a few of the ships of the White Star Line remain today such as the Nomadic in Belfast, collectors are able to acquire small reminders from specialist sales such as Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s Maritime sale of 12th June 2013, Dowell Street , Honiton.

Even such a small piece with the iconic flag logo has the power today to evoke the power of the decadence and tragedy of a period over 100 years ago. 
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Monday, June 03, 2013 3:17:51 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Even having passed the bi-centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, Lord Horatio Nelson is perhaps one of the most significant figures of English history and possibly can be considered one of the greatest Englishmen of all time.

 

orders of command signed by lord horatio nelson

Orders of Command signed by Lord Horatio Nelson (MA13/274)

This opinion is shared by many and easily justified by simply visiting Trafalgar Square or by considering the interest in a copy Nelson's signature in the forthcoming Maritime Auction on 12th June 2013 at Bearnes Hampton and Littlewood's Dowell Street Saleroom, Honiton. 

Collectors and devotees will not be deterred by the pre-sale estimate of £4,000-£5,000 in order to acquire a signature from one of history's most noted figures.  The sale also contains a number of items relating to Nelson's flagships HMS Victory and HMS Foudroyant, as well as a number of period pieces from the 'Golden Age' of sail.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013 3:58:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Amongst the entries for the forthcoming Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood Specialist Maritime Sale on 12th June 2013  at the Dowell Street saleroom (which is currently being prepared by the Maritime and Sporting Department) are several interesting 19th century magic lantern slides of a Polar Expedition.

The only way of recording the events of such a journey would have been through the journals and sketches of the men taking part. These provide a strong sense of the intense cold and environment endured by members of the expedition. However, the colours of the lantern slides provide a rare vision of what to a 19th century explorer, must have been an awe inspiring sight.

victorian polar expedition magic lantern slide

Victorian Polar Expedition Magic lantern slide

Simply entitled ‘Mid Winter Polar Region’, a lone figure dressed in furs and skins looks towards the slumbering ships, trapped in the pack ice under a starlight sky. The scene is given a slightly sinister feel as the sun tints the ice and masts of the ships with a reddish hue. The uneasy feeling increases when you consider the fate of Sir John Franklin’s Lost Expedition of 1845 in which all hands were lost after the ship became trapped in the ice of Victoria Strait, near King William Island.

 detail of polar expedition magic lantern slide

Detail of Polar Expedition Magic lantern slide

Another slide has two small figures on the foreshore, standing and taking in the expansive icy panorama under a colourful sky. Looking closely in the middle distance you can imagine the gasps of the Victorian ladies and Gentleman attending a lecture on the expedition as the mast of a ship can just be seen behind an iceberg.

Polar Expedition Magic lantern slide

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:10:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Brian Goodison-Blanks will start blogging shortly.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012 9:43:06 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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