Boatswain's call

Silver presentation boatswain's call with a medallion commemorating the Blockade of Toulon.

The call has a barrel-shaped buoy, with a foul anchor on each side and a downward-curving gun. The keel has wrigglework decoration, is inscribed 'Arthur Taylor, and terminates in a scroll. The silver medallion has a crest of a ship's stern engraved on one side and 'BLOCKADE OF TOULON'. The reverse is inscribed: 'Presented by the Subscribers to the Fund for Gallant Conduct to Arthur Taylor Boatswain H M S Superb 21st March 1804'. The medallion has three small loops to attach the silver neck chain made with long links, and a shorter matching chain attached to the ring of the call.

The boatswain's call has a long history both as a symbol of office and as a practical instrument for conveying orders at sea. Its distinctive shape has remained practically unchanged from medieval times to the present day. The call's shrill whistle can be varied in pitch to convey a variety of information, and can be heard above the sound of wind and sea. Such instruments were private possessions rather than official equipment and silver calls like this one made suitable gifts and presentation pieces.

Object Details

ID: PLT0398
Collection: Decorative art
Type: Boatswain's call
Display location: Display - Sea Things Gallery
Creator: Croswell, Henry; Croswell, Richard
Events: War of the Austrian Succession: Battle off Toulon, 1744
Vessels: Superb 1798 (HMS)
Date made: 1803-04; 1803-1804
People: Gallant Conduct Fund, Subscribers to the; Taylor, Arthur
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Call: 122 mm; medallion: 50 mm; chain: 228 mm; chain: 711 mm
Parts: Boatswain's call

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