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British Warship Recognition, Vol 3

...The Perkins Identification Albums: 3. Cruisers 1865-1939 Part 1


Title:  British Warship Recognition, Vol 3...

Author: Richard Perkins

Publisher:  Seaforth Publishing

ISBN:  978-1-4738-9145-6

...The Perkins Identification Albums: 3.Cruisers 1865-1939, Part 1

Another large new hardback book from Seaforth Publishing, part of a joint project between Seaforth Publishing and the National Maritime Museum.  This is the third of the 8 volumes of high quality images that capture the original pages of a series of profiles and sketches, along with hand written notes done over many years by Richard Perkins, who donated his collection to the National Maritime Museum, along with many original photographs, before his death in 1985.

This is the third of the albums and is the first part to cover a wide range of Royal Navy Cruisers (Vol 4 will be Part 2 when it comes), from the days when the Royal Navy was the strongest Navy in the world, and still undergoing huge changes in technology. The ships from the earlier period covered by the book include masts that I think Nelson would have recognized at Trafalgar, but there are also armoured hulls, more powerful armament, and coal powered steam engines.

There is an interesting introduction to the albums provided by Andrew Choong, the Curator of Historic Photographs and Ships' Plans. Another different inclusion in this one, which replicates how the albums have actually been bound by the museum, there are a number of pages reproducing pages of handwritten notes made by Richard Perkins, seemingly an aides-memoire though they cover vessels not only included in this volume, but in others in the series as well.  As with the rest of the series, the beautiful profile drawings are accompanied by copious notes and detail sketches covering detail changes over time, to funnels, masts and suchlike, just the kind of detail that makes these invaluable for photographic identification of the ships of the Royal Navy when it did 'Rule the Waves'.

Richard Perkins was a warship enthusiast and between the wars he was a photographer who took a particular interest in Royal Navy ships, leading up to 1939 when he was essentially prevented from continuing due to the security situation of the war.  As well as taking photos he also collected them, and made a point of being able to identify not just a class of ship but also the individual vessels within each class. 

The whole collection would therefore be a museum photo curator's dream reference.  In saying that it would be very easy or them to remain just that, a valuable resource hidden away in a museum collection and accessible to only a few.  By the National Maritime Museum and Seaforth working together to produce these excellent quality copies, anyone can have access to this marvellous resource.  Not only is it an invaluable photo interpretation reference, but the volume and detail all carefully noted and coloured by hand over many years of an individual's obvious passion is simply delightful to see in its' own right. 

A real gem for any enthusiast of an era when the Royal Navy did 'Rule the Waves' and if you examine period photos, an unrivalled reference.


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