The Mariners Mirror Archive

The Admiral’s Gondola

By Joseph Muscat

From time immemorial and in many countries, ceremonial barges have been called gondolas. Six gondolas plied the waters of the Grand and Marsamxett harbours of Malta from the early 1800s onwards. The Admiral’s gondola was distinguished by its beamier, whaler construction and teak spiral stem and stern posts, unlike the scimitar ones found on the […] Read More

Filed under: Mediterranean | Nineteenth Century | Twentieth Century
Subjects include: Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Leisure & Small Craft | Ship Models & Figureheads | Shipbuilding & Design

Note: Edwin Fox – Last of the East Indiamen

By A.T. Mortiboy

The preservation of the Edwin Fox, the world’s ninth-oldest ship, has enabled a study of a vessel with a varied career. Read More

Filed under: Other (Nineteenth C) | Pacific | East India Company
Subjects include: Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Merchant Marines

The Model of La Légère in the Central Naval Museum, St Petersburg: Master Shipbuilder Blaise Pangalo in Peter the Great’s Shipyards

By Alexander Dobrenko and Ann Palmer

Among the ship models at the Central Naval Museum in St. Petersburg is one of the French frigate La Légère (1682). Its designer Blaise Pangalo, a French master shipwright for Louis XIV, was ‘released’ by the King for a year or so to work for the Russian Tsar Peter.  Ship models such as this are […] Read More

Filed under: Baltic | Early Modern
Subjects include: Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Ship Models & Figureheads | Shipbuilding & Design

Whipstaff and Helmsman: an Account of the Steering Gear of the Vasa

By Olof Pipping

The Vasa, lost in August 1628 in Stockholm harbour and raised in 1961, has provided some unique possibilities to study various technical systems of seventeenth century ships.  This paper looks at the parts of the whipstaff gear that were found aboard the Vasa, how they relate to the steering system and the function of individual […] Read More

Filed under: Baltic | Early Modern
Subjects include: Archaeology | Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Ship Handling & Seamanship | Shipbuilding & Design

Where Nelson Died: an Historical Riddle Resolved by Archaeology

By Peter Goodwin

Many readers will have visited HMS Victory in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and seen the place where Nelson died, suitably rigged as a place of veneration. But is that really the spot where Nelson breathed his last? Peter Goodwin has brought an archaeologist’s discipline to this question. Through the study of contemporary sketches and paintings and […] Read More

Filed under: Nelson | Atlantic | Napoleonic War
Subjects include: Archaeology | Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Navies | Shipbuilding & Design

By Alec Barlow

This details the normally disregarded subject of the fastenings by which ships were held together from treenails, dumps, clench bolts, spikes, coaks and staples. Read More

Filed under: Other (Eighteenth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Shipbuilding & Design

The Sailing Rig of the SS Great Britain

By Peter Allington

While the engineering aspects of the Great Britain are well documented, little has been written about her sail plan and rigging. The article examines in detail the “engineered” rigging – iron wire, chain and masts – and the “6-masted topsail schooner” rig. The rig was very efficient, although some of the engineered items were ahead […] Read More

Filed under: Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Shipbuilding & Design

Note: The Fore-topsail of HMS Victory.

By Peter Goodwin

This artefact, the only historic relic left from the ship of the battle is examined, and its display explained. Read More

Filed under: Napoleonic War | Nelson | Other (location)
Subjects include: Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration

The Lurcher Cutter in the Seven Years’ War, 1761-1763

By Carol D. Greene

His Majesty’s Cutter Lurcher entered service in February 1761 through purchase of a captured French vessel. She served in the Dover Strait and the North Sea on convoy and patrol duties until March 1762. She was then dispatched to the West Indies. Lurcher compressed into slightly less than two years’ service all the patrol, convoy, […] Read More

Filed under: Atlantic | Seven Years’ War | North Sea | Mutiny & Discipline | Other (location)
Subjects include: Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Logistics | Navies | Pirates, Corsairs & Privateers | Shipbuilding & Design | Weapons | Whaling & Fishing

Coopers and Casks in the Whaling Trade 1800-1850

By Mark Howard

Most whale oil casks were fairly large which meant the staves were bigger, more numerous and the cask correspondingly more difficult to assemble. ‘A cooper at large work is an old man… at forty… his physical energies then are nearly all exhausted’, said one experienced cooper in 1850. The years they spent stooping over their […] Read More

Filed under: Atlantic | High Middle Ages | Other (Early Modern) | Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (Eighteenth C) | Shipwrecks | Arctic | Other (location)
Subjects include: Archaeology | Harbours & Dockyards | Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Whaling & Fishing

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