Jenny Lind

The Mystery of the Nightingale’s Figurehead

Just over twelve years ago in the Swedish countryside just outside Gothenburg a local Antiques dealer and his friend made a remarkable discovery, a local Jenny Lind - The Mystery of the Nightingales Figureheadfarmer had what he called a scarecrow for sale, and would they be interested in buying it, the dealer was Karl-Eric Svardskog his friend Gunter, the scarecrow would turn out to be a beautiful Ships Figurehead in the form of a young woman, a deal was made with the farmer, leaving Karl-Eric and Gunter to make the arrangements to move her out of the farmers barn, back to Karl-Eric home in Gothenburg, once this relatively short journey had been made, a more complex and arduous journey of research and discovery would occupy Karl-Eric for the next decade or more, a journey he is still on.

Almost a Lost Art

In the late summer of 1999, at a workshop in the South Devon village of HOLSWORTHY near Exeter, the culmination of just over five and a half months of arduous and hard work was coming to a satisfactory conclusion, Richard Barnett a local Devon woodcarver with an International reputation and gift for carving the unusual, was putting the finishing touches to a vast replica figurehead for the British Naval Frigate HMS TRINCOMALEE under restoration at the Jackson Dock, Hartlepool in the North East, few carvers in the World are fortunate enough to be given such a fascinating and in many ways unique opportunity to demonstrate an almost lost skill and art, as to replicate a figurehead of this size and importance.

Old Ships Figureheads & Stern

REVIEWED by Richard Hunter Figurehead Historian.
Prior to its original publication in 1925 by Halton & T. Smith of London, very little material had been published in the United Kingdom, on the subject of Decorative Maritime woodcarving, both in the Naval and Merchant traditions, specifically the area around the ships figurehead and the stern carvings, that was apart from the very occasional magazine article, appearing in such publications as the Century and Gentleman magazines, Illustrated London News, or The Strand magazine plus a number of other relatively obscure publications from the late 1890’s onwards, even then the treatment of the subject could be seen as was somewhat casual in it’s approach, and at the same time loose in it’s overall detail, errors and miss identifications published in one article would be repeated almost verboten in others, little of the material held in the archives of the British Admiralty or the Public records office was used or taken into account, without a doubt as a Naval historian Leonard Carr-Laughton understood and appreciated the subject and took great care with his meticulous and painstaking research in both public and private archives, in the United Kingdom , North and South Europe.

Ship’s Figureheads

By Hans Jurgen Hansen and Clas Broder Hansen
REVIEWED by Richard Hunter Figurehead Historian. 

Figureheads By Hans Jurgen Hansen and Clas Broder HansenThis very interesting book is almost a photographic essay on the Worlds surviving Ships Figureheads with a feast of over 100 illustrations both black and white and full page colour images of Naval and Merchant carvings taken from the collections of Museums around the World, with a selection of carvings that have been fortunate enough to survive the visitations of a hard working life at sea, situated as they are high above the pounding sea, in all weathers, many have been tragically removed from the scenes of great maritime disasters, others less dramatically disregarded when the vessel had unfortunately outlived it’s working life.

The Search for the Lady Agnes

New Book published by the St Agnes Museum Trust

Image of Book CoverREVIEWED by Richard Hunter Figurehead Historian.
In this new book Roger Radcliffe tells the fascinating story of the Cornish built schooner “Lady Agnes” built in 1877 for trade in both the Mediterranean and North America, with just over 70 years service, this new book is a fascinating glimpse into the world of late nineteenth and early twentieth century British maritime trade.