Broadsheet ballad titled 'The Wandering Tar'.
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 WANDERING TAR.
THE wandering tar he leaves his home,
Each softer joy and ease;
To distant climes he loves to roam,
Nor dreads the boisterous seas;
His heart with hope of victory gay,
Scorns from his foe to run;
In battle terror melts away,
As snow before the sun.
Though all the nations of the world,
Britania's flag would lower;
Her banners ftul (?) shall wave unfurl'd,
And dare their haughty power:
But see Bellona sheathes her sword,
Hush'd is the angry main;
The cannons roar no more is heard.
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.