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Broadsheet featuring the ballads 'The Open Sea Is My Home' and 'The Anchor's Weighed'

Date: 1790 - c 1870
Overall: 231 x 172 mm, 0.021 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017394
Place Manufactured:London

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    Broadsheet featuring the ballads 'The Open Sea Is My Home' and 'The Anchor's Weighed'.
    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 and migration.

    THE sea, the open sea's my home,
    No othe home have I,
    But there I'm ever free to roam,
    And there I wish to die;
    I've seen the land - and the landsmen too,
    For thrice I've made the shore,
    But best I love the billows blue,
    And I love to hear them roar.

    And is it not through nature's track,
    Those feelings we pursue?
    In infant years if we look back,
    'Twill tender thoughts renew;
    E'en so has nature worked with me,
    (For I'm the ocean's child,)
    I dearly love my mother -- sea,
    Though boundless, deep, and wild.

    When maddening waves have kissed the clouds,
    And hid the shining moon,
    Where sea birds hovering round our shrouds,
    Their awful notes attune!
    There have I been!--but what fear I?
    My birth-place is the deep,
    And on that bosom let me die,
    Undisturbed let me sleep.


    THE tear fell gently from her eye,
    When last we parted on the shore,
    Mu bosom heaved with many a sigh,
    To think I ne'er might see her more.
    Dear youth, she cried, and can'st thou haste away,
    My heart will break! -- a little moment stay;
    Alas! I cannot, I cannot part from thee!
    The anchor's weighed -- farewell, remember me.

    Weep not my love, I trembling said,
    Doubt not a constant heart like mine,
    I ne'er can meet another maid,
    Whose charms can fix this heart like thine.
    Go then, she cried, and let thy constant mind,
    Oft think of her you left in tears behind;
    Dear maid, this last embrace my pledge shall be,
    The anchor's weighed -- farewell, remember me.

    Broadsheets or broadsides, as they were also known, were originally used to communicate official or royal decrees. They were printed on one side of paper and became a popular medium of communication between the 16th and 19th centuries in Europe, particularly Britain. They were able to be printed quickly and cheaply and were widely distributed in public spaces including churches, taverns and town squares.

    The cheap nature of the broadside and its wide accessibility meant that its intended audience were often literate individuals but from varying social standings. The illiterate may have also had access to this literature as many of the ballads were designed to be read aloud.

    The ballads also covered a wide range of subject matter such as witchcraft, epic war battles, murder and maritime themes and events. They were suitably dramatic and often entertaining, but occasionally they were designed as elaborate cautionary tales for those contemplating a life of crime.

    The broadside ballads in the museum's collection were issued by a range of London printers and publishers for sale on the streets by hawkers. They convey, often comically, stories about love, death, shipwrecks, convicts and pirates. Each ballad communicates a sense that these stories were designed to be read aloud for all to enjoy, whether it was at the local tavern or a private residence.

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