What this blog is about

I write about the Dutch East India Company (VOC), its ships and the spaces thereon and about.

Right now I am completing a PhD at Cornell in History of Architecture. My recent public appearances include the College Art Association conference, 2010, in Chicago, various events at the Society for the Humanities and the American Association for Netherlandic Studies conference, 2008. My paper for this last one was just published in

Margriet Bruijn Lacy (Ed.) Dutch Studies in a Globalized World (Nodus, 2009)

so that’s the best place to find my work to date. I will shortly be appearing at NASOH, to talk about wrecks and mutinies as cautionary tales.

Apart from writing about 18th century shipboard space, I also follow history, archaeology and current events related to ships, architecture and the Indian Ocean.

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2 Comments to “What this blog is about”

  1. Hi, my father recently passed away from brain cancer. One of the things he had was a model ship. There is a plate on the bottom that says “Phenix” and the next 3 lines are in French. The first line says Vaisseau de 2e Rang (XVIIe siecle) (in English “Ship of the 2nd rank (17th century)”). Do you know anything about this ship or who I could talk to about it to get it appraised or figure out where it is from? Thanks in advance.

    Jenny

    • Hi Jenny

      I’m very sorry to hear about your father. I don’t know much about French ships, but from what you’ve given me it should be fairly easy to identify; shipindex.org has two references to ships called Phenix in 1671 and 1673. There should be a reference in Lincoln P. Paine: Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Unfortunately I don’t have access to that, where I am right now.

      I’ve had a quick look in the French navy documents but I don’t see any 17th century 2e Rang ships called Phenix or Phoenix there (the earliest was built in 1725). Still, it could be a navy ship. Louis Gabaret, a French marine officer, served on a ship called Phenix in 1653 at the blockade of Bordeaux.

      How many guns does it have? It would need 64 or 80 to qualify as a navy ship of the 2nd rank (when ranks were introduced in 1671). There was a Phenix in the 3rd rank, built at Toulon in 1693 (carried 50 guns in peacetime, 62 guns in wartime). If it has only 36 guns then it might be a ship of the French East India Company (Compagnie des Indes), built at Bayonne, France in 1667, sent to Surat, Bengal in 1670, first under M. Boquet, later under M. de la Haye. This Phoenix carried passengers and supplies, and had to be rescued off the Cape of Good Hope. Passengers included Mgr (Monsignor?) Pallu, bishop of Héliopolis, and missionnaries bound for Siam and Cochin China. Seized by the Dutch at Trincomalee, India, 31 May, 1672. Full story here, in French.

      There was a lieutenant Phenix serving on a French frigate in 1669… but it would be weird not to name the vessel on the model.

      Regarding appraising the model… I don’t know where to send you, or what might possibly be near you. It would be worth contacting the staff at the Mystic Seaport Museum in CT or the Peabody Essex museum, or even the New Bedford Whaling Museum – they would know where to find experts, I think. Otherwise, Texas A&M has a good maritime archaeology department and U of Connecticut has maritime studies – they must know the model trade.

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