Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington

October 20, 2008

Bound for the bottom of the sea

Filed under: Books,Manuscripts — Elizabeth Johnson @ 11:51 am

Signals to be used by the squadron,.. (binding)

One of the books in this summer’s exhibition in the Lilly Library Main Gallery, Blue at the Mizzen: Patrick O’Brian and the 19th Century Naval World, was a slim, but heavy volume entitled: Signals to be used by the squadron under command of [blank space]. This book, printed in Brooklyn by Thomas Kirk for use by Commander John Rodgers’ flotilla during the War of 1812, has a very unusual binding – it’s encased in lead. The heavy lead binding insured rapid disposal in the event of an emergency. By throwing the book overboard, the Captain could make sure that the signal book didn’t fall into enemy hands. The first page of the book contains hand-drawn colored signal flags, and the key or indicator to each of the signals is added in manuscript. Commander Rodgers was clear in his orders concerning the signal book. β€œIt is directed, that the commanding officers of the flotilla will never suffer their signal books to be exposed either to the possibility of being lost, or to the inspection of any persons who duty does not require that they should be made acquainted with the signals. On the receipt of this signal book, the officer to whom it is delivered is desired to furnish me with all signals appertaining in any degree to these. Signed, John Rodgers.”

— Elizabeth Johnson, Head of Technical Services

View another image from Signals to be used by the squadron under command of [blank space]

Powered by WordPress