During the 19th century and into the 20th, sailors adopted various crafts such as cutting and engraving metal (as well as the more familiar knot tying, whale bone scrimshaw and sailors’ shell valentines among others) to pass the time on board ship or as a hobby after retirement. The items they crafted were often made as gifts for their wives or sweethearts back home, and also were sold or bartered by the sailors aboard ship or at port.
The H.M.S. Valerian was launched in 1916, under the Emergency War Programme for the Royal Navy during World War I. After the war, it frequently sailed in the Caribbean. The ship was destroyed in 1926 when it foundered during a particularly powerful hurricane off the coast of Bermuda, taking the lives of 88 crew members out of 107 then on board.
Inscription on back: “H.M.S. Valerian. N.A. & B.W.I. 1920-23.”
Condition: Generally very good with usual wear and patina.
“Arabis Class Sloop.” Wikipedia. 10 June 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabis_class_sloop (10 June 2011).
Forbes, Keith Archibald. Bermuda Online. 8 June 2011. http://www.bermuda-online.org/history1900-1951.htm (10 June 2011).