Halifax, Nova Scotia: 1913-1914.
Hardcover. Small quartos. Measuring 7” x 9½”. Six issues. Profusely illustrated with original photographs, watercolors, and pen and ink drawings. Carbon typescript. Chips, tears, and edgewear with some dampstaining not affecting the images or text, thus good.
Rare survivors, beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout by four different hands and signed with initials ("EWA," "NOS," "STC," plus one indecipherable). There are views of Halifax, Horta Fayal, Plymouth, maritime art, as well as caricatures and mock advertisements. These, in addition to the photographs tipped in throughout, make for a captivating record of the era.
This shipboard journal was published by the crew of the cable ship *Mackay-Bennett* while on service in the Atlantic in 1913 and 1914. The ship operated from 1884 until 1922, and at this time was famous for its involvement with the recovery of deceased passengers of the RMS *Titanic*. In April, 1912, she was the first ship to be contracted by White Star Lines to assist and retrieved 306 of the 328 bodies that were found. The incident was so fresh in the public’s imagination that in the second issue, the editor remarks, “the advent of the Summer Tourist Season revealed this unpleasant fact. That our unwilling association with the unfortunate Titanic has marked us for one of the sights to be ‘done’ whilst in Halifax. On each steamer from the States comes extraordinary sightseers…Unsexed – Unlovely – ‘Rubberneck’! we entreat you to stay away from us in the future.”
As with most shipboard newsletters, it is full of anecdotes of life onboard including an exhibition of plain and fancy canoeing by Messers Altree and Lever; an account of a football match played on Horta Fayal; thanks are offered to the staff and committee of the Waegwoltic Club; and a bewildered recounting of two women coming onboard and soliciting magazine subscriptions from every officer. Each issue included Household Hints, a column contributed by "Aunt Graham." In an early issue there appears a proposal of a sliding scale of punishments and fines applicable to people visiting the ship and asking foolish questions, fine recommended at $5 and peaked at $200. In the most dramatic event, as reported in the Christmas issue from 1913, the *Mackay-Bennett* suffered an incident of its own, colliding with the *Wirral* at Halifax. The editorial reads, “Nothing less than a collision if you please! And we are lucky indeed to have escaped with so slight an injury. Another degree or so in the angle ‘of incidence’ and we should have been hopelessly cut down, but – (and, by the way, no accident can be so serious, none so trivial, that it escapes a ‘but’) at the last moment our friend the Wirral, by dint of anchor, helm, propeller, wind, tide, and the Grace of God, swung off and did no more than graze our starboard quarter… .”
Likely a unique collection of this onboard magazine, produced by a group of talented sailors to entertain the crew during their long journeys.