Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Caird Library, National Maritime Museum: 16 July 2008

Today we were greeted by Hannah Dunmow, the Archive and Manuscript Manager of the Caird Library. The Library moved into its current building in 1937 and is one of the largest research libraries on maritime history. The collection has over 100,000 books dating as far back as 1850 and onwards; 20,000 pamphlets; and 8,000 rare books dating from 1474.

After a brief overview of the Library, we were led through the Library to a separate room where we were introduced to Mike and Rene. Both deal with the rare books collection and pulled several items for us to view. They discussed the historical significance of the items at hand and also spoke a little on conservation procedures.

I think the item I found most interesting was the USS Chesapeake: A set of signals presented to the Navy of the United States by John Barry, Virginia, 1800. The signal book is weighted with musket balls along the spine. The reason behind this is to sink the book if the ship is ever compromised. Unfortunately for the USS Chesapeake the HMS Shannon took the ship within 15 minutes and gained the signal book before it could be disposed of. A new book of signals was issued within the year (Mike).

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