Thursday 31 May 2012

The Reconstruction of the Hanoverian Royal Palace of Herrenhausen

Schloss Herrerenhausen / The Palace of Herrenhausen, Hannover,
from a coloured Photochrom print circa 1890-1900
[Source : Library of Congress]

Late autumn 2012 will mark an interesting event with an intriguing historical link to the British Royal Family, the completion of the rebuilding (externally at least) of the old Hanoverian Royal Summer Palace of Herrenhausen in Hannover [English spelling Hanover], Germany. But why a link to the British Royal family? Well first a simple history lesson....

King George I of England & Elector of
Brunswick-Lüneburg, Germany.
[Source : Wikipedia]

From 1714 until 1837 The Kingdon of Hannover was joined in a "personal union" with the Kingdom of Great Britain. The first Hanoverian Monarch of Great Britain, King George I, conveniently happened not only to be a Protestant descendant of King James I of Great Britain but also ruler of the then Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hannover). Despite the forced occupation of Hannover as part of "The Kingdom of Westphalia" during the Napoleonic period from 1803 to 1813, English Monarchs continued to rule the Kingdom of Hannover until 1837. From 1816 to 1837 HRH Prince Adolphus, The Duke of Cambridge, acted as Viceroy, representing the English Monarch in Hannover. The succession laws in Hannover forbid a female to inherit the title thus when Queen Victoria ascended the United Kingdom throne the closest male heir, King Ernest Augustus I, inherited the Hanoverian Throne.

The original Herrenhausen Schloss and ornamental gardens,
circa 18th century.
[Source : NDR]

A tinted lithograph of Herrenhausen Schloss, post 1821
[Source : Wikipedia

After the "personal union" with Britain ended in 1837, Hannover kept the British Royal Arms and Standards, only introducing a new Crown but based on the English model. Unfortunately the Kingdom of Hannover only existed until 1866 when the combined military forces of the German Confederation, of which it was a member, failed to defeat the opposing military forces of the Kingdom of Prussia who sought to dominate and rule a united Germany. Had the Confederation succeeded European history may have been very different. Thus, sadly, the Kingdom of Hannover ceased to exist, being annexed and initially ruled by Prussia as the Province of Hannover.

Herrenhausen Schloss (at left) viewed from the air, pre 1943
In the right foreground is the Galerie with the Orangerie at rear.
[Source : NDR

But back to the Palace [or Schloss] of Herrenhausen. The Schloss had originally been built in 1698 but later reconstructed to a classical design by Georg Ludwig Friedrich Laves between 1819 and 1821. Located just three kilometres from the centre of Hannover, Herrenhausen essentially served as a private and tranquil summer residence for the ruling Guelph family, the Leineschloss (the King's principal palace) being right in the centre of Hanover itself.

A map of the Herrenhausen district of Hannover, the location of the
Schloss facing the Grosser Garter is marked in red. The long tree
lined Herrenhauser Allee leading to the Palace can clearly be seen
running diagonally to right bottom, 1900.
[From my own collection]

The long Herrenhauser Allee [avenue], attractively lined with lime trees, served as a formal entrance to the palace and grounds which comprised 120 acres. The "Grosser Garten" (Great Garden) owes much of its aesthetics to Sophia, Electress of Hannover, who commissioned the French gardener Martin Charbonnier to design a formal garden for her. Charbonnier designed a large ornamental baroque style garden laid out in the French style. Within the gardens were later placed statues, both of Hanoverian rulers and copies of statues from antiquity, fountains (one rising to 222 feet), a large "Orangery" (hot house), an open ''Garden Theatre", a "berggarten" (a garden of mountain plants and shrubs), and also the Hanoverian family mausoleum.

Der Saal (Main Hall) in the old Schloss Herrenhausen, taken pre 1943
[Source : Hannoversche Allgemeine]

After the deposing and exile of the Hanoverian Rulers, the Palace of Herrenhausen and Gardens were opened to the public. In an annex to the Palace were the Historical Portraits Galley, the [Hanoverian] Family Museum, the Wagenburg (Carriage Museum), and a Geschirr-Kammer (China Display Room).

The Great Fountain in the Grosser Garten fronting
the old Herrenhausen Schloss, Taken pre 1943
[Source : NDR]

As with many German cities and towns, Hannover suffered badly from allied bombing during World War Two with 90% of the town centre being destroyed. Not only roads, railway junctions and factories were targeted but also residential areas. The British Royal Family had however specifically requested that the Royal Air Force spare Herrenhausen from any damage. But on the 26th July 1943 ninety two American B17 bombers dropped 25,000 incendiary bombs on Hannover, the historic old Palace unfortunately being destroyed in the conflagration. Once alight the Palace, being yellow painted plaster (to imitate stone) on a wooden frame, burnt easily. Only the outside stone staircase, the grotto, and the great cascade in the gardens remained. The adjoining Annex and Orangery were either only partially damaged or survived the bombing and remain intact today.

The burnt out Herrenhausen Schloss in Ruins -
the sad aftermath of the 1943 incendiary bombing.
[Source : Hannoversche Allgemeine]  

The formal Staircase to Herrenhausen Schloss -
the sad aftermath of the 1943 incendiary bombing.
Note the same staircase appearing in the aerial view above.
[Source : Hannoversche Allgemeine

Despite restoration of the extensive gardens by 1966, the grand centrepiece was now sadly missing, creating a "painful gap". At a time when historical reconstructions of buildings and indeed whole precincts are gathering momentum in Germany, the Palace of Herrenhausen is again to take its rightful place fronting the "Grosser Garten" thus restoring the original garden plan. In a mutually beneficial partnership between The Volkwagen Foundation (a non-profit scientific foundation) and the City of Hannover, rebuilding of the Palace is now taking place with completion expected by late 2012. But while the Palace will be rebuilt to its former splendour and true to the designs of the Architect Georg Laves, the original historical interiors will sadly not be reconstructed.

The "new" Schloss Herrenhausen under construction, Feb 2012
[Source : Hannoversche Allgemeine

The Volkswagen Foundation has agreed to completely fund the rebuilding of the Palace, contributing 20 million Euros for the reconstruction project in return for a 99 year lease. Additionally the Foundation will meet the greater part of the running costs by using the convention centre for its own congresses and events. The interior will also include a museum. The Oberbürgermeister [Lord Mayor] of Hannover has however warned against "exaggerated notions", the Palace itself was rather small and that "one should simply not expect too much".

The "new" Schloss Herrenhausen under construction, Feb 2012.
This image clearly shows how the Palace formed, as intended by
the designers, an impressive backdrop to the formal gardens.
[Source : Hannoversche  Allgemeine]  

Partnerships with commercial enterprises to fund the reconstruction of historic buildings is now quite common in Germany, a case in point being the reconstructed Brunswick Royal Palace which houses a shopping centre. There must now be a defined and practical "raison d'être" for reconstructed buildings thus sacrifices need to be made to secure funding and support. Without such partnerships and finding new cultural, official or commercial uses for such buildings rebuilding would usually not have taken place through lack of funding and in some cases even an antagonistic public response (as in the case of the "Prussian" Berlin Royal Palace). The rebuilt Potsdam City Palace (Stadt Schloss) currently under construction will house the Brandenburg State Parliament while the reconstructed Leineschloss (Town Palace) in the Hannover City centre houses the State Parliament of Lower Saxony.

A 2009 painted 'reconstruction' of Der Prunksaal (The Great Hall) of
Herrenhausen Schloss. The original paintings on canvas were removed
before the bombing and survived destruction of the Palace. Compare
this with the original black and white image above.
[Source : Olaf Wöbbeking, Hanover]

While some significant historical rooms could over time - but at very great expense - be included in totally reconstructed buildings this is usually at odds with the efficient use and requirements of private investors and civic entities for funding such ground-up rebuilding projects. Additionally, there appears to be a very strong mindset in Germany against totally reconstructing original interiors in "new" buildings which would now simply serve no logical or useful purpose nor would they in any case be historically authentic. Architects prefer to employ a blend of old and new to reinforce that inspiration is drawn from the past rather than simply recreating it. Therefore we must be content with these newly reconstructed but multi-use heritage buildings which at least externally restores some of the remarkable architecture for which most German Cities were once famous.

A computer animation of the reconstructed
Herrenhausen Schloss with some great views
of the formal gardens.

Meanwhile Hannover is planning to formally celebrate their strong historical links with the British Crown in 2014, being the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian King George I ascending the British Throne. The British Prime Minister has already promised that a member of the British Royal Family will visit Hannover at this time. It is also hoped that Prince Charles will become Patron of the organisation established to oversee the various exhibitions and events planned to mark this unique anniversary.

The existing Galerie alongside the Palace.
[Source : Orangerie Für Haus und Garten]

The existing Orangerie alongside and behind the Palace.
[Source :]

Note : I have primarily used the German form of "Hannover" rather than the traditional English form of "Hanover". I am aware of the different form of spelling but have chosen to use the current [and still identifiable] German form as my blog is not written for English speaking tourists.

Bibliography :

- "Baedeckers Northern Germany", 1900 (from my own collection)
- Wikipedia
- General Internet resources

Thursday 24 May 2012

Empire Day 24th May

An HMV gramophone recording of the Empire Day Message to Children
of the British Empire from HM King George V and Queen Mary, recorded
at Buckingham Palace London in 1923
[From my own collection]

The 24th May once marked "Empire Day" throughout New Zealand and the British Empire. The first such commemoration took place in Great Britain on the 24th May 1902, being Her Late Majesty Queen Victoria's birthday.

H.M. Queen Victoria  by Alexander Bassano, 1882
At this time the British Empire was truly at its zenith.
[Source : Wikipedia]

Originally considered with children in mind…“[To] remind children that they formed part of the British Empire, and that they might think with others in lands across the sea, what it meant to be sons and daughters of such a glorious Empire.” [and that] “The strength of the Empire depended upon them, and they must never forget it.”

Flags of the Empire with the British Flag in centre
[Source : State Library of Victoria]

Empire Day quickly grew, being celebrated by countless millions of children and adults alike, both in Great Britain and around her vast Empire, truly an opportunity to demonstrate pride in being part of the great British Empire. Empire Day quickly spawned the "Empire Movement" under the auspices of Lord Meath, with the emphasis still being very much on children.  

Adults and children celebrating Empire Day at Stratford New Zealand
24 May 1903, taken by James McAllister.
[Source : Alexander Turnbull Library]

New Zealand first celebrated "Empire Day" on the 24th May 1903 with "The double purpose of keeping fresh and green the memory of a most illustrious reign [of Her Majesty Queen Victoria] and rejoicing in the consolidation of our great Empire".

[Source : "Our Flags and Their Significance" by KC Byrde, 1920]

In 1907 children attending Auckland public schools celebrated Empire Day by saluting the flag and by listening to patriotic addresses. Elsewhere in the city veterans and volunteers paraded and held a military tournament. A 'patriotic concert' took place in Wellington. The southern town of Invercargill went as far as to observe Empire Day as a general holiday.

HM King George V & Queen Mary speaking to
the children  of the British Empire, recorded at
 Buckingham Palace in 1923.
[From my own collection]

In 1910 "The New Zealand School Journal" inspired its young readers with these words :

"Children of the Empire, clasp hands across the main,
And Glory in your brotherhood, again and yet again;
Uphold your noble heritage - oh, never let it fall - 
And love the land that bore you, but the Empire best of all"

The Empire Day Message to Children of the British 
Empire from HM King George V and Queen Mary, 
recorded at Buckingham Palace in 1923.
(this is the same recording as held in my collection)   

In 1919 Schools in the Dominion moved Empire Day commemorations to the 3rd of June, being the official birthday of King George V. By the 1930's "The New Zealand School Journal" had ceased to print an issue commemorating "Empire Day". Nor had the idea of a general public holiday taken hold, being inconveniently close to the King's Birthday holiday.

[Source : Abagond]

In 1931 the United Kingdom Parliament passed the "Statute of Westminster" which established legislative equality for the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire. While loyalty to Great Britain itself remained high, the unravelling of the British Empire after World War Two, emerging nationalism, and the desire to alter New Zealand's constitution without reference to the British Parliament prompted adoption of the Statute in 1947, becoming the last of the Dominions to do so. 

Empire Day Celebrations Wellington New Zealand, taken 24 May 1940.
Mr Leonard Tripp, the President of the Royal Empire League, reading a
 message from former Governor General Lord Bledisloe, taken in front of
 the statue to Queen Victoria. Note the wreath to be laid by the memorial.
[Source : Alexander Turnbull Library, Evening Post Photo] 

We would no longer be known as the "Dominion of New Zealand" but as the "Realm of New Zealand", being able to fully direct our own foreign affairs and military. New Zealand citizens no longer travelled on British Passports. It also legally separated the British Crown from a New Zealand Crown, thus King George VI became" King of New Zealand" just as Queen Elizabeth II is today "Queen of New Zealand". 

In 1958 New Zealand appropriately renamed "Empire Day" as "Commonwealth Day", shifting it to the 11th of March. The Governor-General of New Zealand Lord Cobham noted that "The British Empire had now given way to the noble concept of a Commonwealth of free peoples".

Note : Historic gramophone recordings should now only ever be played by means of a modern electronic 78rpm capable turntable and stylus rather than by using steel needles which will incrementally and permanently damage the records.

Bibliography :

- Wikipedia

Thursday 17 May 2012

The Triumphal Visit of King George IV to Scotland, 1822

Holyrood Palace Edinburgh as pictured in a period lithograph.
 From a drawing by Thos. H. Shepherd and engraved by T. Barber, 1829.
[From my own collection]

1822 marked a momentous year for Scotland, the first visit of a reigning British Monarch to the ancient Kingdom since 1650. Many reasons probably lay behind this intervening gap of 177 years. Transport was still slow, uncomfortable and inconvenient and successive sovereigns naturally felt settled in the south, being closer to their seat of power. But the effects of the Jacobite Stuart uprising of 1745-46 in Scotland, which had been brutally put down by English forces, would naturally have left feelings of insecurity in the minds of more than one succeeding Hanoverian Monarch and exactly how they would be received "north of the border".

King George IV, an engraving by G. Cruickshank, 1820
[Source : The Victorian Web

Upon the urging of the British Parliament, but quietly to keep the newly crowned King George IV's mind away from the 'political manipulation' he was then involving himself in, it was suggested that a visit to Scotland would be opportune. It was also believed that a visit from the reigning Sovereign of Great Britain would calm lingering unrest. Thankfully George took to the idea with enthusiasm.

A Medallion commemorating the Visit of
King George IV to Scotland, August 1822.
[Source : Scottish Tartans Authority]

The advice of the Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet Sir Walter Scott (knighted in 1820) was sought to plan and manage this theatrical extravaganza. It was Scott who had recovered the long lost "Honours of Scotland", being the Scottish Royal Regalia in 1818, which had been lost and forgotten since the "Act of Union" with England in 1707. Scott had just three weeks to plan a spectacular Royal pageant to impress not only King George IV but also  to attempt to heal the lingering rifts in Scotland.

A sketch of King George IV in Tartan dress
by Sir David Wilkie, 1822
[Source : Tartan's Authority]

King George was also busy, equipping himself with "an appropriate array of fine costumes". The Edinburgh Outfitters "George Hunter" supplied the King with "a magnificent equipage" as diverse as "a goatskin Highland purse with massive gold spring top" to his bonnet, "consisting of the Royal Scots crown in miniature set with diamonds, pearls, rubies and emeralds." The King also received "Sixty-one yards of royal satin plaid [tartan]; thirty-one yards of Royal velvet; [and] seventeen and a half yards of royal plaid cashmere." The total cost of of this outfit alone came to £1,354 and 18 shillings (£110,000 pounds today).

HMS Royal George at Leith 1822, by Thomas Butterworth
[Source : Wikipedia)

With his outfits safely packed in a variety of trunks, George departed Greenwich on the Thames aboard "HMS Royal George" on the 10th August 1822. Dropping anchor at Leith Docks in torrential rain at 2 o'clock in the afternoon four days later, the King's welcome, despite the rain, was "noisy and ebullient". Sir Walter Scott came aboard to welcome the King, apologising for the appalling weather. The King in turn greeted Scott as "The man in Scotland... he most wished to see."

The entry of King George IV into Edinburgh on the 15th August 1822,
 as viewed from Calton Hill. A painting by John Wilson Ewbank
[Source : Museum of Edinburgh]

Next morning, the King, in naval uniform and in sunshine, made his triumphal entry into Edinburgh, being driven in state to the Palace of Holyrood. His welcome delighted the King, with cheering crowds and magnificently decorated streets. George remarked more than once, "They are a nation of gentlemen". Upon the King's arrival at Holyrood Palace he was presented with the keys to the Palace by the Duke of Hamilton, the Hereditary Keeper of the Palace. In the Throne Room he was then formally presented with the Honours of Scotland, being the ancient Regalia of Scotland which Sir Walter Scott had located in 1818.

The Duke of Hamilton presenting the keys of the Palace of Holyrood to
King George IV in 1822, by Sir David Wilkie, 1828.
[Source : National Galleries of Scotland

As the long neglected Holyrood Palace was not in a sufficient state of repair for full time Royal use, King George IV stayed at Dalkeith Palace south of Edinburgh, enjoying the hospitality of the the sixteen year old Duke of Buccleugh.

Dalkeith Palace, seat of the Dukes of Buccleugh.
[Source :]

From Dalkeith, George was taken out in his carriage to "Drawing Rooms", "Levees" (both forms of receptions), a command performance of Sir Walter Scott's "Rob Roy" in The Assembly Rooms, to the Caledonian Ball (where he insisted that only Scottish reels were played), to a Presbyterian Service at St Giles' Cathedral, to a civic banquet in Parliament House, to a military review of 3,000 cavalrymen at Portobello, and to a levee attended by 2,000 members of the Scottish aristocracy at the ancient Palace of Hollyrood on the 19th August. For a gout ridden and portly man of sixty, he displayed remarkable zest and stamina. But standing at only 5 feet 2 inches and with a girth of around 56 inches the King was observed to be almost as wide as he was tall.

The Quadrangle of Holyrood Palace, as pictured in a period lithograph.
From a drawing by Thos. H. Shepherd and engraved by T. Barber, 1829
[Source : Wikipedia]

On one occasion, dressed in his Field-Marshal's uniform, George proceeded in state by closed carriage from Holyrood up The Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle as cannons were fired in his honour. Despite rain, fog and wind, the King stood for 15 minutes beneath the Royal Standard on the Castle's half moon battery smiling and waving his hat to acknowlede the "huzzas" of the crowds below. He is quoted as saying :

"Good God! What a fine sight. I had no conception there was such a fine scene in the world; and to find it in my own dominions; and the people are as beautiful and as extraordinary as the scene. And Rain? I feel no rain. Never mind, I must cheer the people."

King George IV waving his hat from the Edinburgh Castle Battery, 1822
[Source : Wikipedia]

Dressed in Highland costume, the portly King did not look his best. Flesh coloured pantaloons under his kilt did not improve the effect. When someone complained that the kilt had been made too short for modesty, Lady Hamilton-Dalrymple wittily responded "Since he is to be among us for so short a time, the more we see of him the better."

Sir David Wilkie's "flattering" portrait
of King George IV in a tartan kilt at
Hollyrood (minus the pink tights).
[Source : The Royal Collection]

But credit must be given to the King for his willingness to throw himself wholeheartedly into the various activities planned for him. Although often executed in a rather theatrical manner they earned him the overwhelmingly support of his Scottish subjects. King George only wore a kilt once to greet guests at Holyrood but his newly found love of plaid and his urging that others wear it lead to a strong resurgence in tartan.

The wearing of Clan tartans had been officially banned from 1746 to 1782 because it generally demonstrated Highland clan and Jacobite (Stuart) support. Septs, which had not been aligned with any Highland Clan, now clamoured to align themselves to a clan - and tartan - of their choice. Additionally the somewhat comical situation also arose where lowland and border families willingly took on tartan as if it had been part of their own heritage, having never previously been allied to any Highland clan or sept whatsoever.

"The First Laird in Aw Scotia - or a View at Edinburgh in August 1822"
 - a satirical cartoon of King George IV during his visit to Scotland.
To the right of the King is the comically depicted Sir William Curtis.
[Source : National Galleries of Scotland

The appearance at a levee of the King's "jovial, loud and uninhibited" personal friend, 70 year old ex-Lord Mayor of London Sir William Curtis as depicted above, "a portentious [pompous] apparition" wearing Highland uniform complete with a kilt of Jacobite Stuart tartan (later somewhat incomplete) was however widely ridiculed by those present, being considered quite inappropriate; "And who is he, that sleek and smart... pot-bellied pyramid of Tartan?". It was his appearance and not that of the King that "cast an air of ridicule and caricature over the whole of Sir Walter Scott's Celtified pageantry."

The Lord Provost's Banquet in the Main Hall of Parliament House,
Edinburgh 1822, an unfinished painting by JWM Turner.
The Scottish Parliament met here until The Union in 1707.
[Source :  Tate]

Addressing a banquet hosted by the Lord Provost in the Main Hall of Parliament House, King George IV expressed his great pleasure and heart felt thanks to the people of Scotland :

"I am quite unable to express my sense of gratitude which I owe to the people of this country; but I beg to assure them that I shall ever remember as one of the proudest moments of my life the day I came among them, and the gratifying reception which they gave me.... I can assure you with truth, with earnestness and sincerity that I shall never forget your dutiful attention to me on my visit to Scotland....".

Mary Queen of Scots Bedroom at Holyrood Palace, as viewed in 1885
prior to "restoration" of the furnishings in the early 20th century.
[Source : ScotlandsPlaces

Although redecorated for his visit, King George IV made two private inspections of Holyrood Palace and later recommended that a Government grant for further essential repairs be granted. He was also adamant that the historic apartments of Mary Queen of Scots should be preserved and maintained for posterity. Old faded and disintegrating fabrics lent an air of age and neglect to her rooms until later "restoration" of the (apparently not all authentic) furnishings took place.

Sir Walter Scott,
as painted by Sir Henry Raeburn, 1822
[Source : Wikipaintings]

Before departing Edinburgh at the end of August, the King ensured that a suitably grateful letter was written to his capable friend Sir Walter Scott. The King's visit could simply not have been better planned or executed, nor his welcome to Scotland so sincere.

The arrival of King George IV at Hopetoun House on the 29th August.
Elaborate arrangements had been made to welcome the King, guests
and military waiting in the rain. This was to be his last public
appearance before departing Scotland.
[Source : Wikipedia] 

Just before his departure on the 29th August 1822, the King made a brief visit to Hopetoun House (12 miles distant of Edinburgh), being the seat of the Earls of Hopetoun, where a lavish luncheon with numerous courses had been laid on for him and a large number of guests. But perhaps mindful of an impending and rather uncomfortable sea voyage back to England, the King surprising, but perhaps rather prudently in the circumstances, restricted himself to just some turtle soup. The Hopetoun House archives record the details of the luncheon - and the very great cost - but such was the unique honour of hosting His Majesty.

King George IV then bid his farewells, re-joined his ship, the 'HMS Royal George' at South Queensferry, and departed, this being his one and only visit to Scotland. The King left well satisfied, the strength of the Union of Scotland and England was more secure than ever and his own popularity and support "north of the border" was assured. It had simply been a triumph.

Bibliography :

- "George IV" by Christopher Hibbert, Penguin Books, 1988
- Wikipedia
- Image(s) are only from my own collection where specifically noted and may be freely copied provided a link is given back to this page.

Note : Since writing this Blog, I have noted a detailed publication from 1822 available on-line entitled "Narrative of the Visit of George IV to Scotland in August 1822". 

Tuesday 8 May 2012

"Ich Wollte Einmal um die Welt Fliegen" - Memories of LZ-127 "Graf Zeppelin"

Visitors viewing the Gondola and interior of LZ-127 "Graf Zeppelin"

May 2012 marks not only the 75th anniversary of the tragic and well publicised demise of the German airship "Hindenburg" in 1937 but also, on the 8th May, the end of the last commercial flight of its smaller sister ship  LZ-127 "Graf Zeppelin". The achievements of the latter airship are now very much overshadowed by the disaster that befell its sister ship.

A souvenir cover for the first flight of LZ-127 "Graf Zeppelin", 1928
[From my own collection]

Christened on the 8th July 1928 by a Daughter of the original Designer, Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin, the postal cover above commemorates "ZL-127 Graf Zeppelin's" first trans Atlantic flight. Departing Friedrichshafen in Southern Germany on the 11th October 1928, LZ-127 arrived at Lakehurst, New Jersey on the 15th October 1928, after a flight time of 111 hours and 44 minutes. The great airship carried a compliment of 40 crew members under the command of Captain Hugo Eckener and just 20 passengers. With a length of 776 feet she was the largest dirigible yet built and made a most impressive sight. Her five Maybach V12 engines, each developing a maximum of 550 h.p. on take off and 450 h.p. at cruising speed, gave her an average speed of 80 miles per hour.

LZ-127 "Graf Zeppelin" above the airship hanger at Friedrichshafen

Her claim to fame really came in August 1929 when LZ-127 commenced a successful circumnavigation of the globe, often crossing land masses with no proper maps and occasionally without radio contact. She flew from Lakehurst New Jersey USA across the Atlantic Ocean to Friedrichshafen Germany, thence onto Tokio (now Tokyo) Japan, across the Pacific Ocean to Los Angeles USA thence back to Lakehurst, with a flight time of 21 days and 5 hours.

A Maybach engine of the type powering the "Graf Zeppelin".

Following a number of European trips she entered regular transatlantic service to Rio de Janiero Brazil in 1930. But in 1931 she took time out to take a multi-national team of scientists to the Arctic, financed largely by 50,000 letters sent by philatelists.   

The Control Room of LZ-127 "Graf Zeppelin"

A further claim to fame came in 1933, when after completing a flight to Brazil, she detoured via Chicago to make - despite a swastika emblazoned on one side of the tail - a very popular appearance at the Chigago World's Fair. Even at this early stage the appearance of the Nazi swastika, as now required by the German Air Ministry, stirred negative emotions. The Captain did however take some trouble to steer the airship clockwise around Chicago so that the swastika was less evident to the crowds watching below. 

A Hamburg-America Line poster advertising
the Germany to South America Route. 

Continuing her flights to South America, she provided a comfortable and speedy mode of travel as opposed to the slow and less than comfortable liners servicing this route. Additionally, Brazil and Argentina had a large German population and there were strong business and trade links.  

Captain Hans Von Schiller,
LZ-127 "Graf Zeppelin" 

It was over the Canary Islands while returning to Germany from Brazil that Captain Hans Von Schiller received the spine chilling news of the "Hinderburg" disaster at Lakehurst. He perhaps rather wisely chose to withhold this news from the passengers until they had safely landed in Germany on the 8th May 1937.

Josef Braun, Obermaschinist [Engineer]
 on LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin
taken in 1990 

Josef Braun, had served as a Mechanic / Engineer aboard LZ-127 as early as its round the world flight in 1929 and was aboard the final flight from Brazil. In 1979, along with two other crewmen from the "Graf Zeppelin" then still alive, he returned to Lakehurst New Jersey to attend a 50th anniversary tribute hosted by the US Naval Air Technical Training Centre. In 1990 a now elderly Josef Braun spoke with brimming pride of his years of service on the Zeppelin airships. His original wish had been "Ich wollte einmal um die Welt fliegen" ["I wanted to fly once around the World"]. His wish indeed became reality at an early age. Josef died in 1998 aged 94 years, and appropriately, a bronze casting of a Zeppelin airship is affixed to his gravestone. The last crew member Josef Sonntag, who was also a mechanic, died in Friedrichshafen on the 1st November 2005 aged 94.

LZ-127 "Graf Zeppelin" landing at Friedrichshafen, Germany.

LZ-127 "Graf Zeppelin" never carried another paying passenger, the great airship making only one more flight. This took place on the 18th June 1937, flying from Friedrichshafen to Frankfurt, where she remained on display but with her hydrogen tanks emptied. She was broken up in March 1940 on the orders of Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe, presumably her aluminium would have been more useful for the war effort. 

Bibliography :

- Image(s) are only from my own collection where specifically noted.
- Wikipedia

Friday 4 May 2012

The Engravings of 'Les Delices De La Suisse', 1714 (Part One)

Les Delices de la Suisse, 1714

In my ever varied collection are two original volumes (III & IV) of a four volume French language work published in 1714 and entitled "Les Delices De La Suisse" ('The Delights of Switzerland'). These two volumes, the work of Gottlieb Kypesler of Munster, were published in Leiden by Pierre vander Aa and contain a series of very detailed historic engravings which for some time I have wished to share.

This has up till now presented some challenging problems, primarily the need to protect the now very fragile but intact original binding. With my own 16 year background and training in conservation I appreciated the need to ensure that these volumes did not suffer any damage.  I did however wish to use my own images which maintains the integrity of the two original volumes and also better portrays that 'aura' of age rather than the plain black and white copies available (only) via Google Books. A better quality camera plus a newly purchased high resolution scanner with some very useful options has now produced better than hoped for results. Some very slight blurring down the centre line on some scanned images and very slight warping of photographed images has been unavoidable while the photographed images have a slightly grey tone.  

Interestingly, both volumes carry the bookplate of James Ambrose Story B.A., who in 1890 published a small volume of poems in London entitled "Carmina Silvulae".

I recently discovered a wonderful series of mechanical print 'photochrom' colour images from circa 1890 - 1900 which included a number of the above town and villages. I have included these (mainly in the second blog of this series) along with a recent image in the manner of "Then and Now Views". It has not always been possible to find an image from the same aspect or with an obvious point of reference.

Remember that these (almost) 300 years old copper plate engravings were executed in reverse, the skill of the now unknown engravers - and their eyesight - is truly incredible. I have included a Wikipedia link under each modern image should you wish to learn more about these historic places. Enjoy these views!

Geneva (Geneve) in the Geneva Canton, 1714

Geneva Today
[Link to Wikipedia]

Lake Geneva (Lac Leman), 1714

A aerial view of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman
[Link to Wikipedia]

Bad Zurzach in the Aargau Canton, 1714

Bad Zurzach Today
[Link to Wikipedia]

Baden (Bade)  in the Aargau Canton, 1714

Baden Today
[Link to Wikipedia]

Bremgarten in the Aargau Canton, 1714

Bremgarten Today
[Link to Wikipedia]

Kaiserstuhl (Keiserstoul)
in the Aargau Canton, 1714

Kaiserstuhl Today
[Link to Wikipedia]

Muri Abbey (Abbaye de Mouri)
in the Aargau Canton, 1714

Muri Abby [Kloster Muri] Today
[Link to Wikipedia]

Pierre Pertuis in the Bern Canton, 1714
(There does appear to have been some 'artistic licence' with this image)

The natural stone arch of Pierre Pertuis near Tavannes
[Information link]

The [thermal] Baths of Leuk (Bain de Leuk)
in the Valais Canton, 1714

The Spa Town of Leukerbad today
[Link to Wikipedia]

Sion (Sedunum) in the Valais Canton, 1714

Sion (Sedunum) in the Valais Canton
From a photochrom print, circa 1890 - 1900
[Source : Library of Congress

Sion Today
[Link to Wikipedia]

Bishoffszell (Bischofszell)
 in Thurgau Canton, 1714

Bischofszell Today
[Link to Wikipedia]

Bibliography :

- "Les Delices De La Suisse : Tome Troisieme et Tome Quatrieme MDCCXIV from my own collection.
- Unless oltherwise stated all images are from my own collection but may be freely copied for personal use provided a link is given back to this page.
- Various Internet resources incl. Wikipedia