Illustrated manuscript log of the H.M.S. Edgar

SHIP'S LOG   |   George S. RALPH

Item#: 83728 We're sorry, this item has been sold

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(NAUTICAL) (HMS EDGAR). Illustrated manuscript log. No place: April-December 1864. Folio (8 by 13 inches), original full vellum, marbled endpapers and edges; 130 leaves. Housed in a custom clamshell box.

Vintage manuscript ship’s log book from the wooden steamship HMS Edgar toward the end of her career, chronicling her travels from April to December 1864, including 19 mounted illustrations (including nine in watercolor), as well as many other hand-drawn maps, plans and sketches. A unique artifact from British naval history.

Launched in October 1858, the wooden, two-decker, 91-gun screw steamship HMS Edgar would serve the Royal Navy until 1865. This manuscript log book details the vessel’s voyages and operations from April to December 1864. At the time she served as flagship of Rear-Admiral Sidney Colpoys Dacres (Commander-in-chief, Channel squadron). Her master was Captain Geoffrey Thomas Phipps Hornby; he commanded from May 1863 to September 1865. The neatly ruled log pages record arrivals and departures from numerous ports of call, weather conditions, distances traveled and encounters with other vessels. They also offer glimpses of everyday life aboard a mid-Victorian sailing ship: “Sailmakers repairing mainsail… Carpenters variously employed”; “Mustered by divisions. Performed Divine Service”; “Punished Wm. Shipper with 36 lashes as per warrant;” “Fired Royal Salute.” The log is distinguished by 19 mounted ink sketches (nine also with watercolor), highlights being large views of the HMS Black Prince on leaf [70r] and the HMS Late Ship Bombay on [76r]. Other subjects of mounted sketches include various ships (the “Great Harry,” leaf [82r]; a Portuguese boat, leaf [92v]; ships in Lisbon, leaf [93r]); a sectional view of a floating target ([80r]); and numerous shoreline vistas. Several leaves bear plottings of the Edgar’s track and red-and-black diagrams of its position relative to magentic north and other vessels ([14r], [18r], [38r,] [39r,] [40r,] [42r,] [48r]). Several leaves toward the beginning bear small, vivid illuminations (nautical flags; the vessel’s name), and an illuminated title page boasts a bright sketch of the Edgar and nautical flags. Color plans of the ship’s interior appear on leaves [31r] and [63r]. Leaves [122v-123r] feature pencil sketches of birds and a still life of plate and jar. Some of the art bears the initials “G.R.,” perhaps indicating that the artist was one Captain G.S. Ralph, mentioned beneath the view of the Black Prince.

Interior generally clean; first leaf with mild marginal dampstaining and soiling, thin horizontal abrasion. A small illumination excised from the recto of the second leaf. Closed tears and loss to leaf 111 (which is blank). Modest soiling to vellum, mild wear to spine ends and corners. A valuable primary source of British naval history, enhanced by many charming illustrations.

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