If asked to create a mental image of the age of age of sail I would doubtlessly create a vision of hard driven sailors in a struggle against a hostile sea. I can easily envisage men hammering ice off the vessel to keep from capsizing or swaying in the lines a moment away from death in a cold black sea. Mix in a few drunken excursions in ports around the globe and you have the beginning of a fairly entertaining tale. Written in 1924, Frederick William Wallace's excellent history Wooden Ships and Iron Men is just such a tale. I have always liked how the title nicely sums up the romantic vision of sailors against the sea.
Today's archival image shows a more refined side of the age of sail. While there were indeed life or death struggles, there were also moments of quiet contemplation. Some of my favorite nautical images show the domestic life in the cabin or the sailors simply having some fun. Here a couple of crew members take a moment to read a book while leaning against what appears to be a hay bale. On extended voyages what could be a better companion than a good book? I believe that this photograph was taken circa 1920.
All for now,