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Stuffed albatross head mounted in a miniature ship's lifebuoy of the ship EURYALUS

Date: 1898 - 1913
Dimensions:
Overall: 390 x 340 mm, 1.95 kg
Medium: Painted wood, rope, stuffed albatross head
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from The Milliner
Object Name: Albatross
Object No: 00029929

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    Description
    A souvenir from the EURYALUS featuring a stuffed albatross head mounted in a miniature ship's lifebuoy. A merchant seaman probably made this souvenir of the steamer EURYALUS around 1900, using an albatross head as novelty .
    SignificanceThe object is almost certainly sailor made, or possibly made by a passenger in the ship. It bears out the evidence of many published and unpublished accounts of voyages, that albatrosses, like other sea creatures, have often been caught for sport, and their various parts made in to souvenirs, despite the legend that ill-luck is associated with killing an albatross .
    HistoryThe EURYALUS was launched in 1898 and was originally engaged Archibald Currie & Co Pty of Melbourne, whose company's house flag features on the souvenir. She became a troop carrier during the Boer War and was later fitted out with refrigerated cargo facilities before being purchased in 1913 the British India Steam Navigation Company.
    In these days of sea travel there were no mass produced souvenirs available for travellers and often on long sea voyages ship’s crew were able to produce mementos themselves. This particular souvenir from the EURYALUS is unusual in its use of an albatross. Despite the long maritime belief that killing an albatross would bring bad luck to the crew and the ship, borne out in Coleridge's poem 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', they were sometimes later killed and their parts used as souvenirs. Their feet were commonly made into purses, pipes were carved from their bones, and their beaks were used as umbrella or walking stick handles.
    This is not to say that the superstitions surrounding albatross and other seabirds have not also had wide currency there is ample evidence that they have. However, the EURYALUS souvenir is a good object to have in examining the question.

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