Friday, April 16, 2010

One Week: Mark the Date, Mates!

That’s right, my dears! In one week the Young Bluestockings Book Club will be discussing Bloody Jack, by L.A. Meyer, here on Nineteen Teen. Marissa and I do hope you’ll join us.

To get you in the mood, I’m doing a little “show and tell” today, this time around naval uniforms.

First a little warning: I am NOT well versed in things military during the nineteenth century. I’ve actually avoided them when at all possible. Napoleonic war uniforms and accoutrements have been thoroughly studied by historians, re-enactors, costumers, and gamers. They know where of they speak. I just whisper softly in comparison.

So, to start us off, here’s a great Ackermann print from 1849 showing the various levels of officers. Bear in mind that Bloody Jack actually takes place about 50 years before this, but overall uniforms did not change a huge amount during that time (at least to my unpracticed eye). Also bear in mind that these are the dress uniforms — in the middle of a storm or a battle, these gentlemen wouldn’t look nearly so spiffy.

The Admiral stands on the right — notice the star on his chest and the amount of braid at his cuffs and waist. Saluting him is the captain, still impressive but rather less gilded up. The fellow with his back to us is a commodore, above a captain but lesser than an admiral. The little fellow in the rear is a midshipman. Notice the sheaf of papers under his arm to indicate he is still studying.

And here’s the commodore again. This time he’s holding papers to indicate he has the orders; he’s the one in charge. A lesser officer stands next to him on the gun deck (odd place to be examining your orders, but certainly picturesque!), with your ordinary seaman behind, ready to snap to duty. Notice that the lesser officer only has one epaulet on his shoulders.

Here’s another set of lesser officers and an able seaman. The artist did an outstanding job of showing his swagger. He’s had years at sea, seen the world and over. He’s the best of the lot, and he knows it!

If you’d like another take on the naval uniforms of the early nineteenth century, this time by a noted costumer, check out this post on the authenticity of the costumes in the movie Master and Commander: Far Side of the World at Clothesmonaut.

So, were these the way you imagined them as you were reading Bloody Jack? Jane Austen, with two brothers in the navy, was said to be taken with naval men. Is it true there’s something about a man, or woman, or Klingon, in uniform?


Liviania said...

They're close, but not quite to how I imagined the Bloody Jack uniform. But maybe I will rewatch Master and Commander . . .

Mirella Sichirollo Patzer said...

I accidentally stumbled across your blog via a link from someone else's blog. Loved your posts. I'm adding your link to my Favourite Links at :
Well done!
And I'm now a follower.

Regina Scott said...

Hey, Liviania, any excuse to watch nineteenth century movies!

Welcome Mirella! Glad you found us, and thanks for following!

QNPoohBear said...

Thanks so much for the visuals! There are good descriptions of what Jacky is wearing (or not wearing) in the Bloody Jack Adventures. I really liked watching Horatio Hornblower because it gave me a sense of what Jacky's life was like. The author of the books is a mariner and well-versed in naval history. Check out this site

Ink Mage said...

Lovely pictures!
Generally I find a man in a naval uniform quite attractive. :-) While I admired the extreme attention to detail and historical accuracy in Master and Commander, the BBC's Hornblower miniseries was much more to my taste.

Can't wait to discuss Bloody Jack!

Marissa Doyle said...

I didn't know Klingons were allowed to take the King's shilling! Was there a Klingon regiment? :)

Regina Scott said...

I have yet to see the Hornblower series :( They didn't play on TV in our town. But I recently signed on to a video sharing service, which has both the Hornblower and the Sharpe series, so I can't wait to watch them!

Marissa--I'm not sure of the name of the Klingon regiment, but they may have had a staging area in London. Ever hear of Canary Worf?

Sorry--couldn't resist!

QNPoohBear said...

I agree with Ink Mage that Horatio Hornblower was much better than Master and Commander though it's campy at times. I found the DVDs through the library. There are three series. My love of British naval men comes from Captain Wentworth, the swoonworthy hero of Jane Austen's Persuasion.

Marissa Doyle said...

La la la la la la la la...what did you say, Regina? :)

(goes off quietly groaning and shaking her head)