The Scuttlebutt about a Scuttled Ship: Visit by Colombian-born Author to the Wolfsonian Library

This afternoon, our resident steamship aficionado and volunteer cataloguer, Dr. Laurence Miller invited Alvaro Mendoza Arango to visit our rare book and special collections library. Mr. Mendoza is one of the authors of De la Gloria al Olvido, a book published in 2014 that details the history and fate of the German steamship, Prinz August Wilhelm.


Born in Barranquilla, Colombia in 1940, Mr. Mendoza first became interested in this Hamburg-Amerika Linie ship when, as a child, he visited Puerto Colombia and saw its mast still emerging from the shallows where her captain scuttled her. Caught in the Caribbean when the First World War broke out, the ship remained anchored in Colombian waters for the duration—as that country remained neutral during the European conflict. After the United States entered the war, the USS Shipping Board sent representatives to Puerto Colombia to purchase and take possession of all German and Austrian ships detained in the area. The German captain decided it was better to burn and scuttle the ship than to see her converted into an enemy transport or auxiliary cruiser. Mr. Mendoza generously inscribed and left us a copy of the book, beautifully illustrated with postcard, photographs, and other illustrations provided by his co-author, Enrique Yidi Daccarett, who has salvaged much from the wreck to be displayed in a museum.


While we unfortunately did not have any original materials about the Prinz August Wilhelm in our own holdings, Dr. Miller and I were able to find some other materials of interest to show our guest. While many of those items have not yet been digitized, we did find an oversized tome with photographic illustrations of the decorative interiors of the steamship, Monarch of Bermuda with images ready to upload.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

The H. H. Martyn & Co., Ltd. was responsible for the whole of the interior decorations of the rooms (with the exception of the loose furniture) pictured below.







The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

In addition to the original photograph album, The Wolfsonian Library also holds a few rare color advertising brochures for the same ship, which I thought I would share with our online visitors.



The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Miller, we have a large number of deck plans and other promotional materials related to the Hamburg-Amerika Linie, the company that built the Prinz August Wilhelm in the pre-WWI era. Here is a small sampling of some of our holdings, including some deck plans and brochures for Ariadne. Built in 1951 as Patricia for Swedish Lloyd Gothenburg, it was sold in 1957 to Hamburg-America’s cruise line, until sold again to Chandris in 1972.



The Wolfsonian–FIU, Laurence Miller Collection

Finally, in honor of the birthplace of our guest, I rustled up a photograph album that included an image of a river steamer leaving Barranquilla, Colombia from the 1890s.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

~ by "The Chief" on September 24, 2016.

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