Saturday, July 14, 2012

1740s Porn

Whoever said working in the archives can't be as exciting as work in the field?

I had a great day in the Bermuda Archives, returning to various collections I'd read in the 1990s but not since. In the morning I stumbled across a journal in the St. George's Historical Society collection written by Thomas M.B. Godet in 1841, chronicling a Bermudian's tour of the United States. Turns out young Tommy went to NYC and then on to Albany and the Erie Canal. He visited Rochester, Batavia, Lockport, and Niagara Falls by canal boat, early railroad and stage coach, which made me think of home. After lunch (a very tasty Oxtail Stew and Jerk Pork), I requisitioned the Goodrich Papers (1780s), a Virginia Loyalist who wound up in Bermuda during the American Revolution after being run out of Portsmouth by an angry Patriot mob. While trolling through the box to get to the Goodrich file, I found a privateer commission from 1740 for William Richardson's warship Anne, which had the intact seals of three co-partners. Now normally I don't pay any attention to seals but by chance today I did. The first two were quite typical - portrait profiles or initials - but John Butterfield's was quite risque: a couple going at it on a bed! People viewing his signet ring would be none the wiser in his chosen image - quite befitting a roguish privateersman?

PA 2145 St. George's Historical Society Collection (Bermuda Archives)
Who knew the Bermuda Archives should be rated PG-13, if not R? I'll never be able to meet a Bermuda Butterfield today without a harbouring a subtle smirk, knowing what their forefather chose as his personal mark!

Big day tomorrow - two talks on earliest Bermuda in the World Heritage Center - so off to bed now!

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