Thursday, May 28, 2015

Most extensive WWI patriotic posters collection slated for auction

A history resource article by  © 2015

As someone who appreciates history-related images, I enjoyed viewing examples of one of the most extensive collections of World War I poster art that will be coming up for auction next month. 

Examples of the diverse WWI poster collection assembled by Colonel Edward H. McCrahon.  Image courtesy of Guernsey's.

One of McCrahon's WWI bond
posters.  Image courtesy of
Guernsey's Auction House.
On June 23-24, 2015 New York City-based auction house Guernsey’s will be conducting an unreserved auction of patriotic posters relating to World War I. Roughly half of the approximately 2,000 posters are from the United States, with the balance reflecting the many different nations involved in the Great War. The auction will be held on
The collection was assembled by Brooklyn-born Edward H. McCrahon who was so passionate in his defense of the Allied nations that he joined the French Army two years prior to the United States entering the war. Once the U.S. became involved, McCrahon returned home, enlisted in the U.S. Army, and rose to the rank of Colonel. However, it was during his stint in France when he first became riveted by the compelling graphics of war poster art.  
At the conclusion of the war, McCrahon devoted his energies towards assembling what is ultimately recognized as the most extensive collection of war posters known to exist. By the mid-1930s – after 16 years of collecting – the McCrahon Collection was widely exhibited and acknowledged in countless print articles, and even in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, as the very finest collection of its type.  
The Colonel McCrahon Collection reflects true international flavor of the war, as numerous countries and their respective languages were used to inform and motivate the civilian public during this time of great crisis. (Of note are the many foreign language posters printed here in the United States that functioned as outreach to the large clusters of immigrants in cities such as New York.) Although all are patriotic at their roots, this Collection features posters that cover fundraising, food rationing, enlistment, women’s war efforts, and animal aid. Many of the posters collected by Col. McCrahon are the only known copies  to exist today.  

An example of a WWI French language poster printed in
the United States.  Image courtesy of Guernsey's Auction
Guernsey's auction company has specialized in history-related artifacts and memorabilia for 40 years. The John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, Princess Diana, Elvis Presley, Jerry Garcia, John Coltrane, Dick Clark, Mickey Mantle and The Beatles events were all conducted by Guernsey's.  

Guernsey’s has worked with the Library of Congress in the preservation of the complete Rosa Parks Archive. It has also handled the sale of the Holocaust-related poster collection of Dr. Hans Sachs. Other upcoming sales in 2015 include the Urban Archaeology Collection, Historic Artifacts from the Kennedy White House, Atocha Undersea Treasures, and a recently-discovered work by Pablo Picasso  

I found a really interesting website with information about WWI & II artists who produced posters like these as well as images of combat as many of them also served in the military:

World War Pictures: Posters, Photos, Poets and Artists       

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

USS Constitution slated for three-year restoration

A history resource article by  © 2015

The celebration of George Washington's birthday aboard the USS Constitution in Malta harbor.  Oil on canvas by
James G. Evans.  Courtesy U.S. Naval Academy.
Over 20 years ago I had the opportunity to tour the USS Constitution while I was in Boston for a computer networking conference.  It was in the dead of winter and the wind was biting cold but the crew of the Constitution looked smart in their historical uniforms.  I was surprised to learn that these men and women were actually active duty Navy personnel and not just volunteers placed aboard to answer questions from tourists.  I even remember the Chief rapping out the rules we were to follow while on board the ship and smiled thinking of my father who had served over twenty years in the Navy before his retirement.  Perhaps it is because of my admiration for his service that always draws me to ship tours and was the reason for my visit that day.

A 28-minute history of the USS Constitution:

Over the years I have toured the USS Bowfin, a WW II submarine docked in Oahu, Hawaii and, of course, the USS Arizona Memorial there as well as the famous WWII aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (replacement of the ship of the same name sunk at the battle of Midway) at Patriot's Point Naval and Maritime Museum near Charleston, South Carolina. When the USS Missouri stopped in Oregon for repairs just before it was retired and moved to a permanent dock in Hawaii, my husband and I had the privilege to board it. I have also toured and photographed the tall ships Hawaiian Chieftain and The Lady Washington that travel up and down the west coast from their home port in Grays Harbor, Washington.

A crew member of the tall ship
Lady Washington adjusts a winch
Photo by Mary Harrsch © 2011
In 2004 when I attended yet another technology conference in Baltimore, Maryland I took the opportunity to tour the USS Constellation.  Although the original Constellation was a frigate like the Constitution and commissioned in the same year as the Constitution (1797), it was dismantled in 1853.  It was replaced with a second Constellation designed as a sloop in 1855 and it is that ship that is on display in Baltimore harbor today.

The sloop-of-war USS Constellation docked in Baltimore Harbor.
Photographed by Mary Harrsch © 2004

Now, those of you visiting the Boston area from May 15 to May 29, will have the unique opportunity to see the USS Constitution transported to dry dock for a 3-year restoration.

Here's a schedule of events:

Timeline of Events Associated with Dry Docking

Friday, May 15, 2015 (All times are subject to change)
8:30 a.m. Cassin Young (WW II destroyer) underway by tugboat to basin area
9:30 a.m. USS Constitution underway by tugboat from Pier 1 West to Pier 1 East
10:30 a.m. USS Constitution moored at Pier 1 East
11:00 a.m. Cassin Young back to Pier 1 West

Sunday, May 17, 2015 (All times are subject to change)
7:30 a.m. Dry dock ready for flooding
8:00 a.m. Flood dry dock
11:30 a.m. Remove caisson (door) and tie up behind USS Constitution
1:30-2:00 p.m. Run lines from ship to shore to prepare for the movement of the ship
2:30 p.m. Install temporary lighting and ensure the ship is trim and ready

Monday, May 18, 2015 (All times are subject to change)
7:00 p.m. Divers from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard ensure all is ready for the transit
8:00 p.m. Remove brow (platform to enter or leave the ship); remove shore electrical power
8:20 p.m. Tugboat comes along side USS Constitution
9:20 p.m. Tugboat positions USS Constitution in front of the dry dock
10:20 p.m. USS Constitution guided into the dry dock by three capstans (winches) and line handlers on either side of the dry dock
11:20 p.m. USS Constitution in position in the dry dock
Midnight Caisson (door) reinstalled and dewatering begins

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 (All times are subject to change)
Midnight to 0:45 a.m. Divers standing by front and back to ensure the ship settles on the keel blocks properly
0:45 a.m. Divers verify ship’s position
1:00 a.m. Ship rests on the keel blocks at the bottom of the dry dock
1:10 a.m. Divers confirm keel contact, begin installing sliding side blocks to brace the ship
1:40 a.m. Install addition wood braces to the sides of the ship
2:00 a.m. Divers confirm side blocks are fitted properly to the ship
2:10 a.m. Install gangway
2:15 a.m. Install shore electrical power

I would encourage any of you visiting the Boston area during this time to attend!

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