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The letters of Archibald Buchanan, Midshipman (1803-1804) – 3

Here is the third and sadly final post by research student Daniel Lange, who has been looking at the correspondence of Napoleonic midshipman, Archibald Buchanan…. If you missed the first (or second) post, catch up here. Click on the images to enlarge them. Perhaps the most intriguing features in the…

A piece of P&O at the ‘Cheesegrater’

During the London Open House weekend in September I was one of many hundreds of visitors to The Leadenhall Building, the tallest building in the City of London.  While waiting in the long queue that meandered towards the gigantic new structure, I was curious about a fragment of old architecture…

A wander around ‘Ships, Clocks and Stars: the Quest for Longitude’.

I recently had a look around the  NMM’s new exhibition, “Ships, Clocks and Stars: The Quest for Longitude”. On entering, one of the very first items on display is William Hack’s beautiful 1685 manuscript-atlas. Being in the manuscripts department I may be just slightly biased, but Hack’s “A Waggoner of…

Summer Borbecu’s

I recently held a barbecue and determined to ascertain the correct spelling of barbecue. I turned to the online version of Oxford English Dictionary, a personal favourite from our recently acquired resources, for guidance. It transpires that the word owes its etymological origins to a Haitian word barbacòa meaning ‘a…

Sailing Shakespeare

The E-Library handles surprisingly varied enquiries, from the fairly frequent family history requests to the exact height of Isambard Kingdom Brunel at the time of the launch of the Great Eastern.  However, those who turn to the National Maritime Museum for assistance with their research are still capable of raising…

Button Boys

One of the wonderful things about working here is being bombarded with questions that wrack the brain and start an ongoing research relationship with the chosen topic. Such are the Button Boys – the daredevils of the mast displays carried out by naval training establishments. This enquiry came to me…

Doctor Bombard goes to sea

Recently I’ve been researching the story of Alain Bombard, the French doctor and biologist who survived for sixty days in a dinghy on the Atlantic Ocean without food or water. In 1951, shocked by the deaths of local fishermen brought to his hospital after their trawler was wrecked, Bombard became…

The history of the fork

   Not so FAQ ,,   October 29, 2007  3 Comments

Recently I was contacted by a gentleman researching for a play, set at the end of the 15th Century on a boat and in a port. He was particularly interested in what would have been drunk on board a ship, what utensils and crockery they may have had and the…

Ship’s biscuit theme

I was reading through some web metrics for the blog the other day, and was amused to see that Tanya’s post on the ship’s biscuit recipe had been discovered several times by people searching for “biscuit recipes”. “Hard biscuit recipes” even. Anyway this led me onto a whole ship’s biscuit…

Dazzle painting (How cubism took to the waves)

This post is the first in what we hope will be a series, concerning some of the ‘not so frequently asked questions’ that we often get in the library or E-library. This particular topic was inspired by a telephone conversation involving myself and a professor who was writing a paper…