THE BRITISH LIBRARY

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7 posts categorized "Americas"

31 January 2017

Stamps and Gender Studies: Female royalty on Hawaiian definitive Postage Stamps, 1864-1893

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Postage stamps are an important resource for gender studies.  Hawaiian stamps issued between 1864 and 1893 are an excellent example.  Hawaii was originally an independent nation with its own monarchy, parliament, anthem and flag.  Several of the nation’s postage stamps depict the last senior female members of the Hawaiian Royal Family; all strong, compassionate, talented women with a deep love for their kingdom and people.

Princess Victoria KamamauluBritish Library, Philatelic collections: UPU Collection: Hawaii 1893 Provisional Government Overprinted Issues Noc

Although Princess Victoria Kamamalu’s (1838-1866) brother the King prevented her marriage for political reasons, Victoria was far from a pawn in male power politics of the time.  Remaining a spinster she resisted her brother’s attempts to marry her off to more amenable suitors, even causing the King significant embarrassment when implicated in a scandal with a married Englishman. An accomplished pianist and singer she performed in the Kawaiaiha’o Church Choir despite criticisms that her royal rank rendered such activities inappropriate. In 1863 she also established the Kaahumanu Society to assist small pox sufferers, the sick and elderly.

 

Princess LikelikeBritish Library, Philatelic collections: UPU Collection: Hawaii 1893 Provisional Government Overprinted Issues Noc

Princess Likelike (1851-1887) married Archibald Scott Cleghorn, a Scottish resident. Tiring of his controlling behaviour she abandoned him to become the Governor of Big Island between 1879 and 1880, refusing his repeated requests to return home. Involved in extensive charity work, Likelike also had a musical bent writing iconic Hawaiian songs including Ainahau.

 

Queen KapiolaniBritish Library, Philatelic collections: UPU Collection: Hawaii 1893 Provisional Government Overprinted Issues Noc

Queen Kapilolani (1834-1899) established the Kapiolani maternity home and participated in the 1887 state visit to Britain to attend Queen Victoria’s 50th Jubilee Celebrations. Throughout the visit Kapiolani insisted on speaking Hawaiian despite being proficient in English.

 

Queen Emma Kaleleonalani British Library, Philatelic collections: UPU Collection: Hawaii 1893 Provisional Government Overprinted Issues Noc

Queen Emma Kaleleonalani (1836-1885) was a renowned equestrian who expanded the Royal Palace Library. She established the Queen’s Hospital in 1859 and St Andrew’s Priory School for girls in 1867. A devout Anglican she was a central figure in establishing the Church of Hawaii and St Andrew’s Cathedral. 

 

Queen LiliuokalaniBritish Library, Philatelic collections: UPU Collection: Hawaii 1893 Provisional Government Overprinted Issues Noc

Queen Liluokalani (1838-1917) assisted in founding Queen’s Hospital and the Kaahumanu Society for the relief of the elderly and sick in 1864. In 1909 she also established the Liliuokalani Trust for the welfare of orphaned Hawaiian Children. She wrote Hawaii’s most iconic song Aloha ‘oe and one of Hawaii’s national anthems, acted as regent during her brother’s world tour in 1881, and also participated in the 1887 State visit to Britain. In 1891 she was elected head of state on her brother’s death, ruling until 1893 when she was imprisoned and forced to abdicate following an American backed coup bringing the Hawaiian Monarchy to a tragic end. Prior to her death in 1917 Liliuokalani continually sought support to regain her throne, and also published her memoirs Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen in 1898.


Richard Scott Morel
Curator, Philatelic Collections

Further reading:
British Library, Philatelic collections: UPU Collection: Hawaii 1893 Provisional Government Overprinted Issues
Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen (Boston, 1898)
Paul Bailey, Those Kings and Queens of Old Hawaii, (LA, 1975)
Ralph S. Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom (3 volumes, Honolulu, 1947-1967)

27 January 2017

The East India Company and Nootka Sound

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Viewers of the BBC TV series Taboo have heard about Nootka Sound and the machinations of the East India Company to acquire land there owned by James Keziah Delaney. Taboo is fictional, but Nootka is a real place and the East India Company had indeed been interested in it in the late 18th century.

Nootka is situated on the west coast of Vancouver Island in the province of British Columbia, Canada.  The Sound is one of many inlets along the Pacific coast of the island.

 Vancouver Island

 From Handbook to Vancouver Island and British Columbia (London, 1862) Noc

Captain James Cook’s third voyage (1776-1780) had shown that there was potential for a maritime fur trade between North West America and China.  As China lay within the area of the East India Company’s trading monopoly, it was likely that British merchants would try to circumvent this restriction by entering foreign employment. To avoid losing out, the Company had to enter the fur trade itself or license British traders to operate at Canton in China.  Experimental voyages were sent out from England, India, and Macao. One of these was the result of a proposal sent to the East India Company in 1785 by Richard Cadman Etches, a London merchant. Etches headed a syndicate consisting of merchants and gentlemen, and one woman - Mary Camilla Brook, tea dealer of London.

 

Nootka

From James Bryce, A Cyclopædia of Geography (London, 1862) BL flickr Noc


In May 1785 Etches met with the Directors who sat on the Company's Committee of Correspondence. He proposed sending the ships King George and Queen Charlotte to the North West Coast of America where small trading posts would be established to purchase furs and other goods to sell in Japan and China. The Committee agreed that it was safe for the Company’s interests to grant a licence to the two ships to trade within the limits of its charter. However strict conditions were laid down, with large financial penalties if broken:

• The ships were to go to America via Cape Horn or the Straits of Magellan and then on to Japan or other places northward to sell furs and other goods.
• The ships were not to go southward or westward of Canton or westward of New Holland (Australia).
• No European goods were to be supplied to Canton.
• Money received for furs and other goods was to be paid into the Company treasury at Canton in return for bills of exchange.
• Unsold furs were to be offered to the Company's supercargoes at Canton, possibly for sale in India.
• If Etches’ ships were sound, they were to be used to carry a cargo of tea and other Chinese goods to London.  They needed to be free of any smell which might damage the tea. If unsuitable, the ships could go back to North West America and load goods for Europe.
•  If the traders upset the native peoples within the Company's monopoly limits, they were to make reparation so that Company interests were not damaged.

There are some journals for Etches’ ships in the East India Company archives as well as many papers about the various Nootka Sound expeditions, including ‘Additions to Capt. Cook's Vocabulary of the Nootka Sound Language’.  Plenty to satisfy the curiosity of anyone wanting to delve into the themes of Taboo!

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Barry M Gough, Distant Dominion (University of British Columbia, 1980).
IOR/H/800 Papers concerning a Voyage to Nootka Sound.
IORL/MAR/B/404-O Journal of the voyage of the Prince of Wales to North West America and China 1786-1788.
IOR/L/MAR/B/477A Journal of the voyage of the Queen Charlotte from China to England 1788.
IOR/L/MAR/B/402G Journal of the voyage of the King George from China to England 1788.
IOR/D/120 Committee of Correspondence 6 May 1785.

IOR/D - the papers of the Committee of Correspondence 1700-1858 - now accessible as a digital resource:
East India Company, Module 1: Trade, Governance and Empire, 1600-1947 is available online from Adam Matthew and there is access in our Reading Rooms in London and Yorkshire.

 

06 September 2016

Female Felons in the 18th Century

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Calendars of prisoners are ephemeral broadsides that tell us something about individual convicts within the criminal justice system, and we’ve just acquired two fascinating examples from the 18th century.  Essentially these calendars are lists of prisoners who were awaiting regional trials, with a description of the charges against them.  Some were also printed after the trial, recording the sentences given.  The earliest calendars are manuscript records in a mix of Latin and English.  They were printed from the 1730s onwards in English to satisfy local public interest, prevent clandestine imprisonments and forewarn judges of the workload awaiting them at each trial. They continued to be printed until the 1970s.

The first calendar lists prisoners held at Wakefield House of Correction, which was essentially a workhouse.  At the time of printing, these prisoners were awaiting trial at the quarterly sessions (court for petty crimes) in January 1779.  Amongst the men charged with various thefts, assaults, desertions and, memorably, the sale of unstamped almanacs in the case of one Thomas Mosley, the few female convicts stand out.

 
IMG_5899
Hannah Pagett had a one month sentence for “false reeling”.  She produced yarn with a deficient number of threads.  Mary Parker was committed in July 1778.   She served a one year sentence as a “lewd woman, having had three bastard children”.  Ann Ainley was accused of being “an idle and disorderly woman”.  These roughly defined offences were common charges against women in the 18th century.  At least the names of these women have survived; there are two on the list who are, sadly, identified only as “an unknown woman”.  One “cannot give any account of herself” and the other is accused of being “a vagrant, and an idiot”.  It is possible that up to two thirds of prisoners in houses of correction like the one at Wakefield were female.  Beating hemp was the usual form of hard labour.  Whippings and beatings were also commonplace, particularly for those convicted of vagrancy, lewd conduct and night walking (prostitution). 

The second calendar records prisoners in the Castle of York who were trialled at the assizes (court for more serious crimes) in March 1736.  One entry in particular caught my eye.  It says “Walker Margaret, Sutton Katharin, otherwise Mason Katharin, to be transported for seven years”.  The Transportation Act, passed in 1717, established a seven year convict bond service and penal transportation to North America as punishment for minor crimes.  Approximately 50,000 convicts (men, women and children) were transported to North America, an influx that was only plugged by the American Revolution beginning in 1765.  From then on, convicts were transported to Australia.

IMG_5896

The Atlantic crossing was perilous; the convicts endured cramped conditions on merchant ships, often in chains.  As on slave ships disease was rife.  If they survived the crossing, and many didn’t, they were forced into hard labour on the tobacco fields.  After serving their sentence some returned to England but many established a new life for themselves in the vast anonymity of North America.  Did Margaret Walker and Katharin Sutton stay in, or even reach, America?  As with the fate of all these women, we’ll probably never know.

These new items will join the three other 18th century calendars of prisoners in the British Library.  We acquire ephemera like these to represent regional printing, the historical experience of the lower and criminal classes, and the diversity of English culture as a whole. 

Maddy Smith
Curator, Printed Heritage Collections

Further reading:
18th century crime and punishment

 

12 August 2016

Robert Clive – ‘Rio Janeiro was my choice’

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As the eyes of the world focus on the Olympic Games in Brazil, I thought I’d share a story about Robert Clive’s stay in Rio de Janeiro in 1764. It was not a happy experience! 

Here is Clive telling us what happened - can you hear a tone of haughty disdain echoing down the years? 

Letter from Robert Clive to the Viceroy of Rio de Janeiro, dated St Christovo 5 November 1764 -

‘Distress of weather, and a tedious passage to my Government in the East Indies, obliged me to put into some port, for refreshment.  Rio Janeiro was my choice... Considering the very great and recent services rendered by the British nation to that of Portugal, it was reasonable to suppose that a man of my station and dignity, would be entitled to every mark of distinction from the Viceroy of this place.  As an Englishman, however, I at least expected security for myself and for my family in a Portugueze settlement.  How far these expectations…have been answered, cannot, I think, be determined by a few superficial marks of shew and ceremony; because civilities of the most obvious nature have been, as it should seem, purposely omitted.  Over this, however, I am content to draw a veil, having a much stronger ground for complaint. 

Among my domestic servants, there were four musicians, whom I hired in England, at a great expence, for the amusement of the Government of Calcutta.  These I brought on shore, merely to entertain this town; and being informed that the inhabitants were admirers of music, I permitted my band to go to any private families who might be desirous of hearing them perform… They were found to excell all those of their profession in the settlement and priests and others were, hereupon, instructed to seduce them.  I had indeed been frequently informed, that such an attempt would be made, nay I received several intimations of Your Excellency’s intention to facilitate and encourage the execution of the design, that they might be inveigled to stay here, and be employed at the opera after my departure.  But as it was impossible for a liberal mind to entertain so mean a suspicion against a man in your exalted station, I still continued to let my servants go at large.’

 

   Rio 11128243

The church of Our Lady of Glory from Views and costumes of Rio de Janeiro painted by Lieutenant Henry Chamberlain, 1822.

©De Agostini/The British Library Board  Images Online

 

Once Clive was convinced that his musicians were being lured away, he tried to have them seized.  The men took refuge in a church and were then allowed to escape.

‘Could it be conceived that your Excellency’s authority, which cannot be eluded by the meanest slave in the remotest part of your government, would be baffled by three fiddlers, dressed in laced cloaths, carrying with them a large quantity of baggage, and escorted into the country by a priest?...These men, Sir, are not only my servants; they are also British subjects; and you cannot be ignorant, that the seduction of them, will neither be looked upon with indifference by the King of England, nor countenanced, much less approved of by the King of Portugal.'

 

Clive Rio

India Office Private Papers MSS Eur G 37/3/1 f.64v     Noc

 

Clive ends with this postscript, lofty to the last: ‘To prevent any misinterpretation of this letter, I have enclosed an accurate translation of it into French, a language with which your Excellency is not unacquainted’.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records Cc-by

Further reading:
The letter comes from the papers of Robert Clive in India Office Private Papers MSS Eur G 37/3/1 ff.61-64v.

Robert Clive arrives in India

06 June 2016

Making stale and nauseous water sweet!

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An advertisement was sent to the Secretary of the East India Company in 1763 about the intended publication of a series of engravings of the Battle of Havana.  The views were to be taken from sketches drawn in 1762 by ‘the Inventor of the Machine for reducing stale and nauseous Water, sweet’. 

  Durnford IOR E 1 45 f 470

 Advertisement sent to the East India Company in 1763, IOR/E/1/45 f.470 Noc


The artist and inventor was Elias Durnford (1739-1794), a civil engineer with the British Army, who is better known for his role surveying and developing a town plan for Pensacola in Florida.

Durnford was born in 1739 in Ringwood, Hampshire, the eldest son of Elias Durnford senior.  He trained as a civil engineer under John Peter Desmaretz of the drawing office in the Tower of London.  Appointed ensign in the Royal Engineers in March 1759, he served with the Royal Navy at the battle of Havana in 1762.  Durnford was appointed aide-de-camp to Lord Albemarle and was asked to draw a series of sketches of the battle, which were later published as announced in the advert. After Cuba, Durnford was sent to Florida as chief engineer and surveyor, where he was responsible for drawing up the town plans for Pensacola. In 1769 he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor, an appointment he held until 1778.

During his time in America, Durnford also designed a plan for a canal to run from the Mississippi to the town of Mobile. If it had been implemented the scheme would have been the first canal in America.  As well as potentially bringing new trade and settlement, the canal could perhaps have changed the course of the War. Military and political difficulties at the time however meant the proposal was never properly considered.

Mobile maps_k_top_122_94_1

Maps K.Top.122.94.1 Plan of Mobile, 1763 Images Online  Noc

 

Durnford was still living in Florida at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War and was given command of Fort Charlotte at Mobile, a town near his estates. Durnford was heavily outnumbered during the war but refused to surrender the fort, believing relief would come from Pensacola. He eventually surrendered in March 1780 after having safely negotiated safe passage home for the English residents, and protection from persecution for the locals who had assisted him. His estates and plantation were however burned to the ground.

 

Pensacola maps_k_top_122_97

Maps K.Top.122.97 Coastline of Pensacola as seen from the sea, 1763 Images Online  Noc


On returning to England Durnford worked on the ‘Makers Height’ defences at Plymouth Docks, before being appointed Chief Engineer in the Caribbean, where he eventually died of yellow fever on 21 June 1794.

Several of the engravings produced from Durnford’s original sketches are in the King George III Topographical Collection at the British Library. The Library also holds a copy of the published engravings from the 1760s.

I have been unable to discover anything so far about Durnford’s machine for purifying stale water. Was it a success?  Can any of our readers help?

Karen Stapley
Curator, India Office Records Cc-by

Further reading:
IOR/E/1/45, f 470 - advertisement for a publication of engravings of the battle of Havana.
William Elliot,  A view of the Harbour & City of Havana.  Six views for Lord Albemarle, inscribed by Elias Durnford (London, 1764).
Maps K. Top. 123.28.a through to Maps K. Top. 128.28.f - The King's Topographical Collection holds the six engravings, produced from Elias Durnford’s original sketches, which were published between February 1764 and August 1765.
Add MS 16367 G - A coloured military plan of the attacks carried on by the English in 1762 against the city of Havanah and Moro Fort, surveyed by Lieut. [Elias] Durnford, 1762.
The National Archives hold the plans and drawings for the town of Pensacola; along with drawings and correspondence relating to the proposed canal from Mississippi to Mobile.

 

 

26 May 2016

Wanted: 100 Hogshead of Sugar

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Today is the 50th anniversary of Guyana’s independence, a country on the northern coast of South America. Formally known as British Guiana, it had a rich and diverse history. Journalist Lainy Malkani takes a look back at some archive newspapers with a remarkable link to one of the most expensive stamps in the world.

 

Royal Gazette 4 Mar 1856

‘Wanted: 100 Hogshead of Sugar.’  Royal Gazette 4 March 1856 Noc


Judging by the variety of notices and adverts posted in the Royal Gazette in 1856, Georgetown, must have been a bustling and at times chaotic city. The proprietors of the printing shop, Messrs. William Dallas, Esq, who was one of a growing number of successful mixed-race businessmen, and Joseph Baum from Pennsylvania, were in the thick of it.

 The search for ‘100 Hogshead of Sugar’, is just one of thousands of ‘Wanted’ ads placed in the newspaper, and leafing through just one day in the life of the city feels like time travel at its best. On Tuesday 4 March 1856, Rose and Duff wanted to purchase ‘100 Puncheons of Rum’ while a shipment from London of 600 tonnes of ‘shingle ballast, gravel and sand’ was available for any discerning developer to buy if they had cash at the ready. On other days, an advert announcing the arrival of ships from Calcutta, laden with bags of rice and mustard oil for Indian indentured labourers indicates the country’s increasingly diverse population after emancipation in 1834.

 

Royal Gazette 3 Jan 1856

‘IRVING BROTHERS OFFER FOR SALE’  Royal Gazette  3 Jan 1856 Noc

 

The Royal Gazette, later known as the Official Gazette was regarded as the voice of the colonial administration and Government announcements were frequently posted. Disturbances in the city led to William Walker, the Government Secretary to decree that a reward of $50 dollars for information that led to a conviction of the troublemakers, would be withdrawn and replaced with a $250 reward - perhaps it was a sign of the fragility of peace in the city.

The printing office was located at No23 High Street and Church-Street in the upmarket district of Cumingsburg and it printed more than just newspapers. In 1843, it published a ‘Local Guide of British Guiana,’ a compilation of all the current laws as well as an historical sketch of the city. 

  Georgetown 1

From Local Guide to British Guiana (Georgetown: Baum & Dallas, 1843) Noc


But perhaps their greatest claim to fame was not as printers of newspapers or books, but of stamps, and one in particular, which is now the most expensive and rarest in the world.

The story begins with a delay in the shipment of postage stamps dispatched from London to British Guiana. By 1856, supplies were running low and so the local postmaster ordered Baum and Dallas to print a batch of one-cent stamps as postage for newspapers and a four-cent stamp for letters. The last remaining One-Cent Magenta recently sold at Sotheby’s for $9.5 million and the Four-Cent Magenta and Four-Cent Blue form part of an unrivalled collection of rare stamps donated by the wealthy Victorian businessman Thomas Tapling, held here at the British Library.

 

  British guiana677
British Guiana 4-Cent Magenta Noc

 

All in all, 1856 was a pretty good year for Baum and Dallas. The newspaper was now being printed three days a week instead of two, a sure sign that business was doing well. They had also, unwittingly secured a place in history as printers of the most valuable stamp in the world.

Lainy Malkani
Writer, broadcaster and founder of the Social History Hub

 

 

23 April 2016

Selling the silver screen: poster stamps and lost films

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Movie studios always promote their newest releases by advertising and merchandising which generates multi-billion dollar revenues. Yet the origins of movie merchandising remain unclear. In nineteenth century Europe, the postage stamp medium was adapted for non-postal purposes by businesses to create a new advertising medium, known as the poster stamp since they are essentially mini advertising posters.  This advertising practice spread to America and at its height prior to the First World War, collecting poster stamps actually eclipsed philately as a hobby with hundreds of thousands of them being issued to commemorate events and sell products.

In 1913 designers Oscar Wentz and Winold Reiss emigrated from Germany to New York hoping to make their mark on the American advertising industry. Wentz wasted no time establishing Wentz & Co., which by 1914 had signed contracts with most of the major movie studios to provide poster stamps depicting actors, actresses and serial movies. Designed by Wentz and Reiss, these were to be sold with accompanying albums by the movie studio to cinema owners, who would sell them to movie goers or give them away as promotional material to entice audiences back each week. 

The Campbell-Johnson collection in the Philatelic Collections possesses sixty-one poster stamps mainly produced by Wentz and Co., depicting prominent actors and actresses from the silent screen including Mary Pickford (1893-1979), the first great American movie star and co-founder of United Artists Studio with Charles Chaplin, D.W Griffith and her husband Douglas Fairbank in 1919; and G. M. Anderson (1882-1971) who is widely regarded as the first cowboy movie star. Here is a link to a silent movie of G.M. Anderson in the role of Broncho Billy in Broncho Billy's Fatal Joke, released in 1914.

Image 1  Image 2
Left: Poster Stamp depicting Mary Fuller taken from the British Library, Philatelic Collections, the Campbell-Johnson Collection, volume 28. Right: Poster Stamp depicting G. M. Anderson as his cowboy persona “Broncho Billy” taken from the British Library, Philatelic Collections, the Campbell-Johnson Collection, volume 28.

The collection also contains twenty-seven Wentz & Co., poster stamps depicting stills from episodes of The Goddess, six depicting stills from the adventure serial The Broken Coin, and thirty-six depicting stills from the detective serial The Black Box, all released in 1915 by the Vitagraph Company and Universal Studios.

 Image 3  Image 4

Left: Poster Stamp depicting a still from episode 14 of The Goddess taken from the British Library, Philatelic Collections, the Campbell-Johnson Collection, volume 28. Right: Poster Stamp depicting a still from episode 15 of The Broken Coin taken from the British Library, Philatelic Collections, the Campbell-Johnson Collection, volume 28.

As well as being examples of early movie merchandising these poster stamps are important as the Black Box and Broken Coin are believed to be lost films. Consequently, they offer a rare visual insight into their cinematography. Used in conjunction with published books upon which the films were based, and related movie song sheets, the poster stamps allow for a partial reconstruction of these lost works.

  Image 5 Image 6

Left: Poster Stamp depicting a still from episode 3 of The Black Box taken from the British Library, Philatelic Collections, the Campbell-Johnson Collection, volume 28. Right: Front book plate of E. Phillips Oppenheim: The Black Box (New York, 1915): British Library Reference NN 2868.

The Campbell-Johnson Collection of Cinderella and Poster Stamps can be viewed by appointment in the philatelic collections, by emailing philatelic@bl.uk

Richard Scott Morel, Curator, Philatelic Collections

Sources

The British Library Philatelic Collections, The Campbell-Johnson Collection, Volume 28
H. Thomas Steele, Lick ‘em, Stick ‘em: The Lost Art of Poster Stamps (Abeville Press, 1989)
Ken Wlaschin, The Silent Cinema in Song, 1896-1929 (McFarland Publishers, 2009)
Robert Whorton, 'The Master Key Serial: Wentz Master Stamp Set Instalment I' in  Cinderella Philatelist, Vol. 54, No. 4 (October 2014)