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The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 5 (February 1904)

Moore, Isabel
A forgotten art,   pp. 485-489 PDF (1.5 MB)


Page 485


A FORGOTTEN ART
A FORGOTTEN ART. BY ISABEL
MOORE
HE romance of the sea finds varied
        expression, but perhaps none is so
        weighted with the lingering memo-
        ries of old tales and gallant deeds,
so imbued with the fragrance of the "salt
sea, where the sea gull flies," as the figure-
heads of those wooden ships that in former
times bore the British sailor and soldier
across the wide waters of the world.
  The passing of wooden ships saw the
passing of the art of figure-head making.
These fine old pieces of ornamentation were
not, as is generally supposed, carved from
solid blocks of timber; but were built up, bit
by bit, cunningly devised and fitted, by men
       Figurehead of IT. M. S. Edinburgh
whose devoted lives were inspired with love
for the creations of their craft, and who, in
company with their work, are now almost
forgotten.
  In a half-deserted way the officials of the
English Admiralty have recognized the
great historic value attached to such figure-
heads as survive-especially figure-heads of
famous men-of-war-and there are in the
Royal dock-yard of Davenport, England,
a number of them, more or less promiscuous-
ly piled up in sheds, that form a sort of
nautical museum, but the finest and most
valuable are in the possession of private
owners, such as Castle & Sons of Baltic
Wharf. Within a stone's throw of the Tate
Gallery, gazing with far-seeing eyes across
one of London's great thoroughfares, stand
several colossal and silent sentinels, who, in
former times, have faced gale and hurricane
unfiinchinalv, and nluinaed througrh -
Gazing with far seeing eyes                .
                                                                       485


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