Broadsheet ballad titled 'The Post Captain'.
SignificanceBroadsheets were designed as printed ephemera to be published and distributed rapidly. This also meant they were quickly disposed of with many of them not surviving the test of time. The museum's broadsheet collection is therefore a rare and valuable example of how maritime history was communicated to a wide audience, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries. They vibrantly illustrate many of the themes and myths surrounding life at sea. Some of them also detail stories about transportation, migration.
HistoryTHE POST CAPTAIN.
WHEN Steerwell heard the first impart,
Our brave commander's story,
With ardent zeal his youthful heart
Swell'd high for naval glory;
Resolv'd to gain a valiant name,
For bold adventures eager,
When first a little cabin boy on board the Fame,
He would hold on the jigger,
While ten jolly tars, with musical Joe,
Hove the anchor a-peak, singing yo, heave, ho,
Yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, heave yo,
When ten jolly tars, &c.
To hand top-gallant sails next the learn'd
With quickness, care, and spirit,
Whose generous master then discern'd
And priz'd his dawning merit;
He taught him soon to reef and steer,
When storms convuls'd the ocean;
Where shoals mde skillful veterans fear
Which mark'd him for promotion;
As none to the pilot e'er answer'd like he,
When he gave the command, hard a-port, helm a-lee,
Luff boys, luff, keep her near,
Clear the buoy, make the pier
None to the pilot, &c.
For valour, skill, and worth renown'd,
The foe he oft defeated,
Andnow, with fame & fortune crown'd,
Post-captain he is rated;
Who, should our injur'd country bleed,
Still bravely would defend her;
Unaw'd, yet mild to high and low,
To poor or wealthy, friend or foe;
Wounded tars share his wealth,
Priz'd be such hearts, or aloft they will go,
Which always are ready compassion to show,
To brave conquer'd foe.
Broadsheet rhymes and verses were the cheapest prints available during the 18th and 19th century. They were sold by street sellers known as Flying Stationers, who charged a minimal fee of a penny or half-penny. They featured popular songs that were often sung in homes, inns and taverns and covered a range of themes relating to contemporary events or stories. Printed alongside the songs were woodcut illustrations. Most of the broadsheet publishers did not date or mark their works, making it difficult to pinpoint when they were produced.
The publication of ballads was part of the commemoration and production of material about shipwrecks. Ships were part of the everyday life in the 19th century and stories about their voyages, wrecks, record breaking voyages and commissions often featured in newspapers and commemorative souvenirs.