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Title Naval woolwork.
Additional Titles Naval woolie
Classification Archives & manuscripts
Physical Description 1 embroidered panel incorporating a tintype : wool and silk on linen backing ; 38 x 34 cm, in frame 41 x 38 cm
Full Orbis Record

Naval woolworks (or "woolies"), embroidered mementos of a sailor's service, were common from the mid-19th century, and were generally made to be hung in a family parlor. The tintype, introduced in 1853, was a cheap, simple, and quick method, popular both in Britain and the United States, of capturing an image on a metal plate. As the plate of black painted iron was not terribly fragile and was easy to cut to mount in an album or frame in a piece of needlework, it was common by the end of the 19th century for "woolies" to incorporate a tintype of their creator. Cf. A.J. Lewery's Popular art, past & present (1991).

A naval woolwork picture, from 1891, by an unidentified British sailor. The entire surface of the canvas is covered with stitches, with wool and silk threads of at least 10 different colors. The present woolwork may have been intended for the sailor's mother, with the lower half depicting the ship (flying a British flag) on which he served, and the upper half depicting flags of 28 countries he likely visited. In the center of the upper half is a mounted tintype of the young sailor. The full-length portrait depicts the subject, out of uniform, in a formal interior. The date 1891 is embroidered immediately above the tintype. The entire woolwork is mounted in a wooden frame, behind glass. The reverse is also enclosed behind glass, facilitating examination of the embroidery technique.

Colors of some of the silks are noticeably faded.

Call Number Folio A 2010 50
Collection Rare Books and Manuscripts
Subject Terms Great Britain. -- Royal Navy -- Sea life -- 19th century.
Fabric pictures -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Wall hangings -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Sailors as artists -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Seafaring life -- 19th century.
Naval career -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Voyages and travels -- 19th century.
Form Genre Terms Tintypes (prints)
Embroidery (visual works)
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