A Catchpenny Conundrum

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Andrew Bamford
Petty Officer
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Joined:Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:51 am
A Catchpenny Conundrum

Post by Andrew Bamford » Fri Nov 29, 2019 4:29 pm

My wife is an art historian, and has come across a catchpenny print with engravings of six 18th century British warships, from a series published during the 1780s and 1790s. They are fairly crude images, certainly not meant to be accurate ship-portraits, but they are named as Prudent, Marlborough, Salisbury, Portland, Ardent, and Egmont. All are two-deckers; Salisbury is rather smaller than the others, with fewer guns; the other five look pretty similar to each other.

What she'd like to know is, is there any factor that links these six ships? We wondered if they were all Thames built, as the print is by a London firm and also includes the Lord Mayor of London's barge, but that doesn't seem to be the case looking at ship histories on the main site. I thought that it might make a riddle for the experts here to mull over and see if they can come up with a connection.

Landsgirl
Ships Boy
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Re: A Catchpenny Conundrum

Post by Landsgirl » Sun Jun 07, 2020 7:08 pm

Forgive me if you already know any of this. I am by no means an expert, and I was unable to find any particular link between these ships, e.g., that they all served together in the same fleet at some point. That may well be the case, but I don't have that much information about their histories. The dates of these ships would put the date of your print somewhere between 1782 and 1794 because Ardent was the youngest of them and the earliest to be out of commission.

HMS Prudent 1768 - 1814 was a 64-gun third rate built at Woolwich

HMS Portland 1770 - 1817 was originally a 50-gun fourth rate but in her lifetime she also served as a 10-gun store ship and a prison ship, both after 1800.

HMS Marlborough 1767 - 1800 She was a third rate, built by Adam Hayes at Deptford.

HMS Salisbury 1769 - 1796 A 50-gun fourth rate, surrendered to the Spanish in 1796.

HMS Ardent 1782 - 1794 was a 64-gun third rate. Burnt off Corsica in 1794.

HMS Egmont 1768 - 1799 A 74-gun third rate, she was built by Sir Thomas Slade at Deptford.

Andrew Bamford
Petty Officer
Posts:10
Joined:Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:51 am

Re: A Catchpenny Conundrum

Post by Andrew Bamford » Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:17 am

Thanks, that would seem to be the six in question (I suppose it's just possible that Ardent could be meant to represent the previous ship of that name, lost 1779, if the engraving was very early in the 1780s and/or from an old original). I'm just stumped as to why you'd pick those six - they are none of them especially famous, and they aren't a particularly representative sample of the fleet. Possibly a personal connection that made sense to the artist, in which case we're unlikely to work it out.

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