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Broadsheet ballad titled 'Description of a Sea-Fight'.

Date: 1790 - 1870
Overall: 225 x 187 mm, 0.022 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017425
Place Manufactured:Devonport

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    Broadsheet ballad titled 'Description of a Sea-Fight'.
    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.

    WE were cruising off the Lizard: on Saturday the 29th October, at seven
    minutes past six, A.M. a sail hove in sight, bearing south-south-west, with
    her larboard tacks on board; clear decks, up sails, away we stood, the wind
    right east as it could blow; we soon saw she was a Mounser of superior force,
    and damn'd heavy metal. -- We received her fire without a wince, and returned
    the compliment; 'till about five-and-twenty minutes past eight, we opened
    our lower deck ports, and as we crossed, plumped it right into her. -- We quickly
    wore round the stern, and gave her a second part of the same tune: ditto repeated
    (as our doctor writes on our doses). My eyes! how she rolled! she looked
    like a floating mountain! --' 'Tother broadside, my boys, ' says our captain,
    'and damn me, you'll make the mountain a mole hill!' We followed it up,
    till her lantern-ribs were full of holes as a pigeon-box.--By nine she had shivered
    our canvas so, I thought she'd have go off, for which she crowded all sail.
    ---We turned to, however, and wore; and in half an hour got along-side a
    second time: we saw all her mouths were open, and we drenched her sweeetly!
    ---She swallowed our English pills by dozens, but they griped her damnably!
    At forty minutes after nine, we brought all our guns to bear at once; bang--
    she had it! Oh! dam'me, 'twas a settler! in less than two minutes after, she
    cried 'Peccavi!' in five more she took fire abaft; and just a we were going to
    board her, and clap every lubber upon his beam end -- whush!--down she went
    by the head! -- My eyes! what a screech was there! out boats; not a man was
    idle! we picked up two hundred and fifty odd, sound and wounded, and if I
    did not feel more joy of heart at saving their lives, than all the victories I ever
    had a share in, dam'me.

    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.

    Related People
    Maker: E Heys

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