Wood relic fragment from the British naval ship H.M.S. Collingwood, which was dispatched to the Pacific as the flag ship of Rear Admiral Sir George Francis Seymour (1787-1870) in 1844, returning in 1848. The relic has been encased in a wood box of elm or oak with hinged glass lid, lined with royal blue fabric and secured with a brass latch. Beneath the latch is an engraved silver-plated label titled, “WOOD OF H.M.S. COLLINGWOOD/ FLAG SHIP OF Sir George Seymour 1844. 48.” The Collingwood was broken up in 1866. Seymour eventually rose to Admiral of the Fleet, the highest rank in the British Royal Navy, which may explain why such care was taken to preserve and display this relic.
The H.M.S. Collingwood was an 80-gun two-decker ship launched by the Royal Navy in 1841. Rear Admiral Seymour chose it as his flagship when he was appointed commander-in-chief in the Pacific in May 1844. The Collingwood rounded Cape Horn in 1845, as part of the first British fleet to do so since the 18th century, and made its way up the coast of South America to Hawaii and Mexico. Seymour returned with the vessel in 1848. The Collingwood was selected for conversion to screw propulsion and the engines were installed in 1860-61, but the ship was never completed for sea and was eventually sold for breaking in 1866. Meanwhile, Seymour had continued to rise through the ranks and was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet that same year. Other British officers who served on the ship and who continued to distinguish themselves in naval service after 1848, include Arctic explorer Admiral Sherard Osborn (1822-1875) and Commodore James Graham Goodenough (1830-1875).
Condition: Relic is fragmentary, splintered, weathered, with wood worm holes, and slightly dry rotted; still stable overall. It has an old small iron nail in it. Display box is very good, with a nice patina, and having the usual overall wear and shrinkage.
“Lot 398 / Sale 9856.” Christie’s. 26 May 2004. http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/LotDetailsPrintable.aspx?intObjectID=4286805 (10 August 2015).
“Seymour, Sir George Francis.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004-2015. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/25170 (10 August 2015).