SOME RECENT ADDITIONS TO THE THOMAS RAGAN COLLECTION OF OCEAN LINER MATERIALS AT THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY

•September 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Today’s blog post comes to you courtesy of Library Assistant Michel Potop. Mr. Potop has a background and interest in maritime and naval history and has been working to process and catalog a recently arrived shipment of ocean liner books donated to our collection by Thomas Ragan. Here is his report:

Thanks to another significant contribution of reference and rare materials made by our generous patron, Thomas C. Ragan to The Wolfsonian-FIU, the library now enjoys an even greater collection of holdings related to cruise lines and maritime culture in Europe and the Americas.

This post will look at two of the Ragan donations: one, an American children’s book; the other, a Dutch sticker book.

The first book looks at the way the naval history and traditions of the Merchant Marine traditions were presented to children and young adult readers. Between the late 19th and early twentieth centuries, the United States Merchant Marine’s importance was frequently overshadowed by interest in the U.S.’s naval military might. Ironically, military conflict fanned a revival of the civilian navy during the First World War. During the conflict, most European merchant vessels were engaged in the war effort, and trade between the United States and Europe was negatively impacted. Because North American industries relied heavily on their trans-Atlantic trade partners for the transportation of goods, , the American economy suffered. To rectify the situation, the United States worked to encourage an enthusiasm for the development of U.S.-flag shipping and a stronger civilian Merchant Marine.

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My Book of Ships, is a children’s book published by the Saalfield Publishing Company in Akron, Ohio immediately after the First World War in 1919. Its cover depicts two young American children waving to ships. Interestingly, the ship’s sailors are guided safely through the dark clouds (of the war years?) by a lighthouse beacon topped by a cross.

In an age when more middle class American families had the means to travel, the book illustrated themes of leisure and onboard entertainment the new passenger liners.

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Other illustrations were designed to stimulate an interest in the predominantly upper-class pursuit of yacht racing.

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Children’s imagination and their curiosity was not neglected either. The mysteries surrounding such gigantic ships were skillfully described and illustrated so that even young children could understand and familiarize themselves with vessels and their protocols.

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Vivid colors were used to depict the elegant steamships and other vessels in drawings designed to captivate the attention of children.

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One such illustration depicts a bright red tugboat.

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An old-fashioned but beautiful schooner is also pictured with all her sails raised.

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Thomas Ragan’s recent gift included a sticker album as well. Titled Ocean Giants, this album was written and illustrated by G. J. Frans Naerebout, and was published sometime around 1952 by A. Hooijimer & Zonen in Barendrecht. Interestingly, even though this book was published in Netherlands and in the Dutch language, the ship selected for the cover illustration was American, and that the other ships represented inside included ships of many flags and nations.

The United States had been built with the intention of claiming the transatlantic speed record.

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In the chapter titled “Giants of the Seven Seas,” the British passenger ship Lusitania (sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915) is masterfully depicted steaming at high speed.

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Designed for collecting enthusiasts of all ages, many pages of the book left room for reader interaction, encouraging them to collect and fill the book with color stickers printed for that purpose. The stickers include images of well-known ocean liners…

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…and steamers from the famous White Star Line.

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Sticker book illustrations include a map of the routes of the steamship line companies.

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A particular favorite image of mine is this one of the pride and joy of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, (or, French Line), the Art Deco ocean liner, the Normandie.

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At a time when nationalism was rampant and the drums of war were beating, writers and illustrators managed to inspire patriotic feelings of pride for their country’s naval savoir-faire and love for the sea, without emphasizing the militaristic approach so endemic of the time.

BONNIE BITS O’ BONNIE SCOTLAND: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE HIGHLANDERS FROM THE WOLFSONIAN COLLECTION

•September 20, 2014 • 1 Comment

On account of the pending (and now decided) vote on whether to remain with or secede from the United Kingdom, Scotland has been in the news (and on my mind) quite a wee bit this past week. As it has also been a rather busy week here in The Wolfsonian-FIU library, I have not had much time to move from thinking–to blogging–about Scotland. The Wolfsonian possesses some rich collections of material both on late nineteenth and twentieth century secession movements in general, and on the Scottish nation itself. Consequently, I thought that I would take just a few minutes out of my busy schedule today to highlight some Scottish ephemera from the Wolfsonian library collection when international and empire expositions also brought Scotland into the limelight.

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GIFT OF THE SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The city of Glasgow hosted several important international, national, and imperial exhibitions in the twentieth century, and the Wolfsonian-FIU library holds a number of souvenir view books documenting those fairs.

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In 1901, Scotland organized the Glasgow International Exhibition, proudly proclaiming their important place within the Empire and United Kingdom.

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The attendance of the royals and the grandeur of the exhibition buildings and pavilions attest to Scottish pride and prestige, industrial might and wealth.

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A nighttime view of the fair included in one of the view books was intended to show off Glasgow’s technological advances as well, as the exhibition buildings radiate and glow with new electric lighting.

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Glasgow organized another slightly more modest exposition in 1911, styled the Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art and Industry. Although national rather than international in scope, the fair was intended to instill a sense of local Scottish pride and also featured a royal procession in the fair grounds on opening day and photo-opportunities for the royal party in the Palace of Art.

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Lest the good Scots forget their national honor, a letter dated October 11th, 1297 from William Wallace (of Braveheart fame) was  on display.

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In 1938, the city of Glasgow hosted the British Empire Exhibition, again demonstrating the importance of Scotland to the United Kingdom’s empire just one year prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The Wolfsonian museum and research center holds a variety of materials celebrating the fair ranging from medallions and keepsakes, newspaper clippings, cigarette card sticker books, original photographs, to postcard view books. Below are few examples from the collection.

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Although the bulk of our holdings are limited to the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries, thanks to a generous donation from the San Diego Historical Society in 2008, we have a very decent collection of post-Second World War travel and tourism advertising brochures, many of which focus on Scotland.

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GIFTS OF THE SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY

 

BEFORE THE WORLD WENT TO WAR: GLIMPSES FROM THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY COLLECTION

•August 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This past week we entertained a number of visitors in our library interested in materials produced in the period before and just after the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. Last Thursday, two VIP visitors arrived to converse with Associate Librarian Nicolae Harsanyi and see a presentation of materials relating to the art, politics, and culture of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in its twilight years. Dr. Harsanyi is an ethnic Hungarian from Romania, is fluent in numerous languages, and an expert on the history and culture of Eastern Europe. Here is Dr. Harsanyi’s report of that visit:

Last week the library was visited by Mr. Devrin D. Weiss, a collector from Washington DC, and his friend, Raul Rodriguez, from Coral Gables.  Given the interest shown by our distinguished guests for artifacts and materials originating from the Austro-Hungarian Empire before its demise at the end of the First World War, a display of representative holdings from that period was set up for our visitors’ viewing.

The emblematic figure for the second half of the nineteenth century in Central Europe was Emperor Franz Joseph I.  His long reign (1848-1916) has reached landmark status attained only by few monarchs, and Vienna celebrated the venerable emperor’s fiftieth and sixtieth anniversaries with much pomp and circumstance.  The library has a few reminders of these moments:

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The old Habsburg national anthem also glorified the Emperor (like most anthems of monarchical states), as it can be seen in the English translation printed on a silk advertisement for Zira Cigarettes.  This advertisement is one of a series of silk patches that present the flags of various countries of the world.  Zara Cigarettes issued this silk during the early 1910s.  Each pack of Zara cigarettes had a coupon enclosed.  Once 25 coupons were collected, they could be redeemed for a collection of novelty silks.

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“The Eastern Land” ruled over by the Vienna-based monarchs included a mosaic of nations with various cultural identities and political goals.  The 24-volume “Kronprinzenwerk” was the last huge attempt to equally portray all nations of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Suggested in 1883 by Crown Prince Rudolf of Habsburg, the encyclopedia describes “The Austro-Hungarian monarchy in speech and writing,” the crown lands, nations, landscapes, and regions of the monarchy. It was published in German and Hungarian. The library at the Wolfsonian holds the seven volumes dealing with Hungary.

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Our guests also had the opportunity to browse through several issues of the periodical Ver sacrum [Sacred Spring], which promoted artists associated with the Vienna secession movement, Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) and Koloman Moser (1868-1918) being prominent among them.

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In 1903, Koloman Moser, together with Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956), founded of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), a production community of visual artists, bringing together architects, artists and designers.  Our library has a substantial number of postcards illustrated by the artists associated with this creative community.  Among the signatures one may recognize the names of Egon Schiele (1890-1918) and Mela Koehler (1885-1960):

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Another series of postcards produced by the Wiener Werkstätte show various views of the Austrian capital city:

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On its twenty-fifth anniversary (1928) of its existence, the Wiener Werkstätte published a beautiful book including its members’ representative achievements in the fields of decorative arts (lighting, pottery, metal work, glass, textiles, jewelry).  Its orange and black molded sculptural relief papier-maché boards were designed by Vally Wieselthier (1895-1945) and Gudrun Baudisch (1907-1982). This album is considered a landmark in twentieth century book design

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 The following evening, the Wolfsonian library hosted an after hours Private Salon celebrating the hundred year anniversary of the founding of the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1914. The President and Creative Branding Consultant of AIGA attended the event along with a couple of dozen design professionals and graphic art enthusiasts. In the library foyer, the guests had the chance to see Wonders Never Cease, an exhibition of rare Panama Canal materials curated by Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn. 

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Drawing largely on materials from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection, the exhibit celebrates the centennial anniversary of the completion of that monumental undertaking the same year.

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Moving into the library’s main reading room, our guests were treated to a display of materials all published in 1914. 

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Baron Hans Henning Voight (1887-1969), a self-taught artist more popularly known under his pseudonym, first reached a popular audience when the British publishing house John Lane published a book of Forty-three Drawings by “Alastair”. Influenced by the work of English artist Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) and the so-called “Decadent movement” in art and literature of the late nineteenth century, Alastair’s illustrations focus obsessively on the “perverse and sinister.” The illustration below was inspired by the famous opera, Carmen. 

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 Even as Alastair’s drawings carried the fin de siècle ethos into the twentieth-century, other artists in England in 1914 were interested in making a more emphatic break with the past. Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) and Edward Wadsworth (1889-1949), for example, broke away from the Omega Workshops to found the short-lived Rebel Art Centre and Vorticist movement. Their manifesto Blast published in 1914 included works inspired by Cubism and Futurism.

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Many Vorticists and other English avant-garde artists broke with the Italian Futurists and that movement’s outspoken spokesman, F. T. Marinetti, in June 1914. That same month, Lewis, Wadsworth and other “anti-Futurists” jeered and booed Marinetti while he was reading from his manifesto and reciting from his newly published Zang Tumb Tuuum–a book of free verse poetry capturing the sounds of the battle of Adrianople, accompanied by drumming by the “last remaining English Futurist” C. R. W. Nevinson (1889-1946).

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Even at home in Italy, the arrogance of the Futurists incited not only imitators but detractors and satirists. Parodying the title of the Futurist periodical Lacerba, the movement’s critics published their own rivista, Acerba, lampooning the pompous pronouncements and artistic pretensions of Marinetti, et al.  

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 While some Italians were lampooning Lacerba and the Futurists, others ignored their influence altogether. The Italian periodical L’Eroica carried on the earlier symbolist and Art Nouveau traditions in art and poetry in 1914.

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Also on display for our visitors was a ticket stub for an international exhibition of Secessionist art in Rome in 1914.

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 Meanwhile in France, Georges Goursat (1863-1934), who had already won renown as one of the most famous caricaturist of the Belle Époque, continued to publish his scathing social and political cartoons under the pseudonym, Sem. His Le Vrai & le faux chic [True and false chic] published in 1914 lampooned the latest female fashions, comparing the styles of clothing to the likenesses of praying mantises and other insects.

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Once the war broke out, Sem, Paul Iribe (1883-1935), and other patriotic French artists lent their talents to the war effort, publishing caricatures of German Emperor Wilhelm II and the Crown Prince in the popular periodical, Le Mot.

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German cartoonists also jumped on the nationalist bandwagon as soon as war was declared, contributing illustrations to the Kriegs-album der Lustige Blätter that ridiculed English, Russian, and French enemy leaders and lauded the heroism of their own troops and leaders.

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ON EPIDEMICS AND ESCAPE ROUTES: THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE PANAMA CANAL AT THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

•August 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Listening to National Public Radio this morning, I heard two news item that immediately caught my attention. The first was that today marks the hundred year anniversary of the celebrated completion of the Panama Canal by the Americans, even as the current construction project aimed at expanding that canal has been delayed by financial problems and now talk of a strike. I also heard on NPR that a Chinese billionaire is presently floating a plan to construct a new canal across the Central American isthmus in the territory of Panama’s northern neighbor, Nicaragua. This new proposal advocates crossing Lake Nicaragua to complete a 173-mile canal, and holds out the possibility of helping transform the economy of that impoverished nation, but also of drastically altering the region’s ecology. Materials in the Wolfsonian library remind us that the United States had also conducted a number of surveys in the isthmus to determine the best route for an interoceanic canal, and that early on, Nicaragua was the favored route. In 1886, the Cuban-born Chief Civil Engineer with the U.S. Navy, Aniceto García Menocal (1836–1908) published the report of the U. S. survey party through Nicaragua. 

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MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. COLLECTION, THE WOLFSONIAN

Ultimately Nicaragua lost out to Panama when the Americans decided to push forward with plans to complete the canal begun and then abandoned by the French. And the rest, as they say, is history. Today’s blog post comes to you from Sharf Associate Librarian, Rochelle Pienn, who recently put together an exhibition on the Herculean effort that went into the building of the Panama Canal. Here is her report:  

Today the Panama Canal celebrates its official centennial. When thousands of local workers recently decided to strike, plans for a massive and expensive Canal expansion came to a screeching halt. Nevertheless, scheduled fanfare in honor of the waterway will proceed. After all, the Panama Canal’s history of fits, starts, stops, and finally, success, is the basis for its current glory.

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Book, plate 7, from The Panama Canal: The World’s Greatest Engineering Feat. Panama: I.L. Maduro Jr., c. 1930.

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Before luxurious passenger ships, commodity-laden cargo carriers, and U.S. military vessels ever passed through the Panama Canal, this man-made waterway between the Eastern and Western hemispheres was a rocky, humid, infected isthmus.

XC2011.08.2.280_095Photograph album, plate 95, from Souvenir de Panama. [Panama], c. 1882.

 GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

This lovely original 19th century photographic print shows the quaint town of Venta Cruz, where pack donkeys and their riders were compelled to pass through in order to deliver goods across the Isthmus. During this period, France, fresh from its triumph over the completion of the Suez Canal, began its doomed mission to build the Panama Canal.

These days travel advisories warn individuals from approaching West Africa, where the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus currently spreads. Imagine entering a land in spite of the presence of a deadly disease for the sheer purpose of obtaining work—or for the larger goal of building the impossible. The Isthmus of Panama was more than just a staked-out piece of real estate ready for hacking: it was a death zone, replete with yellow fever and malaria, at the very least almost guaranteeing severe illness.

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Photograph album, plate 1, Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interoceanique: 4eme Bureau Technique Photographie Album-Archives. [Panama], c. 1886.

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

This hospital, or Le Sanitarium, hosted ailing patients on nearby Toboga Island. After years of failed construction strategies, constant disease, catastrophic death tolls, and utter bankruptcy, the French finally pulled out of the Panama Canal project. The United States took control, facing the exact same issues, but taking daring new approaches.

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Book, page 144, “Col. William C. Gorgas, Medical Dept., U.S. Army, Head of the Department of Sanitation, Ancon,” from The Panama Canal: A History and Description of the Enterprise, by John Saxton Mills. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1913.

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Clearly the tragic cycle of disease and demise needed to be broken. President Teddy Roosevelt first rejected Dr. William Gorgas’s revolutionary methods to eradicate yellow fever due to its million-dollar price tag. Dr. Gorgas’s theory involved mass fumigation to kill mosquitos and their eggs, plus sealing off tons of standing water, where the fever fermented. Roosevelt did relent and fund the project, which utterly eliminated yellow fever on the Isthmus by 1906.

XC2011.08.2.285_170Book, page 170, from The Panama Gateway, by Joseph Bucklin Bishop. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

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On the heels of Gorgas’s miracle, Roosevelt pushed for new popular support of the project. He appointed reporter Joseph Bucklin Bishop as the Executive Secretary of the Isthmian Canal Commission. It was Bishop’s charge to disseminate positive information on the Panama Canal in order to garner favor from the American public.

Books like this one appealed to curious readers with its flamboyant prose and idyllic watercolor scenes. The author, Willis J. Abbot, once served as editor for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal.

 XC2011.08.2.296coverBook, Panama and the Canal in Picture and Prose: A Complete Story of Panama, as well as the History, Purpose and Promise of its World-famous Canal, the Most Gigantic Engineering Undertaking since the Dawn of Time, by Willis John Abbot. London: Syndicate Publishing Company, 1913.

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

In 1914, the Panama Canal, with its fully functional system of gates, lakes, and locks, opened to the maritime traffic of the world. The U.S.’s accomplishment was somewhat sidelined by the advent of the First World War. By the early 1920s, the Canal became a popular destination for military officer R&R, cruise ships, and naval vessel peace-time practice maneuvers.

XC2011.08.2.304_81Photograph album, plate 81, from Panama and the Canal Zone: As I Saw It, February 9th to May 4th, 1921. [Panama], c. 1921

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Exotic travel through the eighth wonder of the world enticed tourism. Here the SS President Van Buren, from the Dollar Steamship Line, rests in Gatun Locks. Shipping magnate Robert Dollar purchased vessels from the U.S. government and refurbished them for his leisure cruise line.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

In 1999, the United States turned over control of the Panama Canal to the Panama Canal Authority (PCA). The PCA soon announced a plan to widen and improve the Canal to meet the modern needs of larger ships and denser maritime traffic. In the meantime, Nicaragua publicized its new partnership with a Chinese billionaire for the purpose of building its own competing canal. One hundred years later, the saga of the Panama Canal presses on … and wonders never cease.

PARASAILING, PARAKITING, AND PARACHUTING FOR THRILLS AND SURVIVAL: THE WWI EXPERIENCE FROM THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY COLLECTION

•August 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

While enjoying the sun, sand, and surf in Delray Beach this past weekend, I was mesmerized by the sight (and flight) of a few self-propelled parasailors buzzing overhead. Both parasailing (using an ascending-gliding parachute while being towed behind a motorboat) and parakiting (surfing while harnessed into a parachute-like kite) have become popular forms of beach entertainment—at least for the physically fit who aren’t faint of heart! But while neither of these “para”-activities are uncommon sights on the beach, this was the first time I witnessed individuals flying overhead using a parasail, propelled by a motorized air boat fan strapped to their backs!

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The first individual to take to the skies was obviously the more experienced of the three daredevils, as he executed hairpin turns and other bold aerial maneuvers. But considering that all three had caged motorized fan blades strapped to their backs—(much like those one associates with air boat rides through the Everglades)—I couldn’t help but admire their bravery and/or foolhardiness. The landings looked at least as dangerous as the take-offs.

Naturally, the impromptu air exhibition on the beach conjured up thoughts and images from the Wolfsonian museum library collection related to the daring aviators taking to the skies in biplanes during the First World War. Military aviation became important to the war effort in two regards: first, providing aerial reconnaissance of troop movements and defenses; and second, providing appealing images of biplane “dogfights” designed to meet the public’s desire for a more chivalric, romanticized, and sanitized war narrative than the realities of a stalemated and bloody trench warfare.

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Ironically, neither aerial “dogfights” nor aerial bombardment proved at all decisive on the Western Front. Although all of the belligerents in the war touted the exploits of their own cadre of “aces,” it was the far less glamorous work of surveillance that made the lighter-than-air zeppelins and kite balloons, and the winged bi-planes strategically significant.

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Because tethered military observation balloon crews often had to “jump ship” in the face of enemy fire or at the approach of enemy aircraft, German balloons were soon equipped with parachutes.

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PURCHASED WITH FUNDS DONATED BY MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

When needed, these chutes could be quickly attached to simple and lightweight harnesses worn around the waist; the British Royal Flying Corp and French observation balloon crews soon followed suit.

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Jumping from a stationary balloon with a parachute was relatively simple; the attempt to adapt this life-saving technology to fixed wing aircraft, however, proved highly problematic during the First World War. The Germans, again, were the first to innovate, installing a bag with a chute in a compartment behind the pilot’s seat in the cockpit.

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The added bulk and weight was one consideration. More discouragingly, experience proved that most pilots found it extraordinarily difficult to deploy a parachute without getting the shroud lines entangled in the wires of an aircraft as it plunged to the ground in a death spiral.

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One German flying ace who by the end of his career had shot down thirty-nine airplanes and nearly fifty balloons, Oberleutnant Erich Löwenhardt (1897-1918), died when his chute failed to open after his plane was damaged in a mid-air collision with another pilot. Hermann Göring (1893-1946), who became the commander of the Red Baron’s famed “Flying Circus” following the death of Baron von Richhofen’s successor in 1918, was once saved by a parachute. But anecdotal evidence aside, statistically speaking more than a third of the first seventy German pilots bailing out with a parachute perished in the attempt. Allied airplane crews were not even issued parachutes at all, as the military command thought it better to encourage pilots to do everything possible to save and salvage their aircraft rather than bail out and abandon (air)ship.

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PURCHASED WITH FUNDS DONATED BY MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

DAZZLED! CAMOUFLAGE DESIGNED TO CONFUSE RATHER THAN HIDE: SOME WWI EXAMPLES FROM THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY COLLECTION

•August 6, 2014 • 1 Comment

I was surprised this morning to see in the parking area of my condo a new vehicle appearing something like a cross between a Jeep and a Hummer painted with a camouflage pattern that looked like a pixelated computer screen.

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I was especially drawn to the vehicle’s unusual paint job because I have been preparing to teach a course on the First World War at Florida International University in a couple of weeks and have been searching through the Wolfsonian-FIU museum collection for images of “Dazzle Painting,” a style of camouflage applied to warships and ocean liners converted into troop carriers during the Great War.

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The camouflage painting of these ships appeared to be drawing on Vorticism, a Cubist and Futurist inspired avant-garde artistic movement which sprang to life in Great Britain just prior to the outbreak of hostilities. In 1914, a group of discontented artists working at the Omega Workshops splintered off to form a competing workshop, styled the Rebel Art Centre. Under the leadership of Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), the group had published a Vorticist manifesto titled, Blast. The irreverent manifesto opened with the line: “Long live the great art vortex sprung up in the centre of this town!” and followed with a salvo of free-verse diatribe, cursing the staid establishment and blessing artistic revolutionaries:

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While the self-proclaimed “Vorticists” organized a single exhibition in the United Kingdom in 1915 and published a second issue of Blast, the group disbanded soon after, as the patriotic demands of the all-consuming Great War, mobilization, and death claimed their ranks.

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The library holds only a couple of rare books that highlight the “Dazzle Painting” technique, the first being a monograph illustrating fourteen woodcuts by Edward Wadsworth (1889-1949).

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Wadsworth was a Post-Impressionist painter and friend of Wyndham Lewis. After a brief flirtation with Futurism, Wadsworth committed himself to the Vorticists, signing on to the Manifesto published in the inaugural issue of Blast. A little more than a month later, however, Britain had declared war on Germany and the world was forever changed. Wadsworth contributed to the Vorticist Exhibition held at the Doré Gallery, and to the second “war issue” of Blast, but he enlisted in the Navy soon afterwards. Several other Vorticists died in the war, while others (like Lewis) survived but lost their faith in the “machine age.”

It was the devastating success of the German “Untersee” or U-boats that could hide underwater and torpedo British shipping that inspired the British to introduce a “dazzle” art loosely tied to the revolutionary artwork of the Vorticists.

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Although the maritime artist Norman Wilkinson (1878-1971) has been credited with inventing “Dazzle Painting” while serving in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, he did have help. Invalided out of the war in 1917, Edward Wadsworth also supervised the camouflaging of more than 2,000 ships, adapting Vorticist-derived imagery to render them more difficult targets to enemy submarines. Ironically, it was in Burlington House, at the very traditional Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly, London that the “Dazzle Section” was created. Rather than attempting to make ships invisible through the application of a “drab” gray paint schema, the group’s goal was to develop bold new zigzag patterns of camouflage that could be painted onto warships and troopships to confuse and hinder submariners from locking onto a target through periscopes.

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A special number of the English periodical, The Studio, published in 1918 used a camouflage pattern for its cover and included war themed artwork by distinguished British artists.

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Two of the illustrations inside reproduced paintings by John Everett (1876 – 1949) and Capt. Cecil King which depicted merchant ships employing the “Dazzle Painting” form of camouflage.

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Another item in the Wolfsonian library’s collection, a rare book illustrated by E. G. Fuller and published at the war’s end to highlight the exploits of the Union-Castle Line, provides images of ships employing the “dazzle” camouflage.

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The Union Castle ships’ profiles were painted in a mishmash of stripes and bands so that whether traveling alone or in convoy, it would be difficult to distinguish the bow or stern of a ship. The British Admiralty assumed that this would make it difficult for U-boat captains to calculate size and speed, and the correct position and heading of a potential target. All of which leads me back to car in the lot that inspired this post in the first place. Given that we are not talking about a race car, if the paint job on the vehicle in question is not designed to make it invisible, are we to assume that it is designed to to make it difficult for a policeman with a radar gun to detect its speed, or merely to attract attention?!

 
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