1867 cover sealing expedition S.S. Mazinthien oval Crown "Ship Letter Dundee" h/s

1867 cover sealing expedition S.S. Mazinthien oval Crown "Ship Letter Dundee" h/s
1867 cover sealing expedition S.S. Mazinthien oval Crown "Ship Letter Dundee" h/s 1867 cover sealing expedition S.S. Mazinthien oval Crown "Ship Letter Dundee" h/s 1867 cover sealing expedition S.S. Mazinthien oval Crown "Ship Letter Dundee" h/s 1867 cover sealing expedition S.S. Mazinthien oval Crown "Ship Letter Dundee" h/s 1867 cover sealing expedition S.S. Mazinthien oval Crown "Ship Letter Dundee" h/s
Stock Code: 343
Availability: In Stock
Price: £8,750.00
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1867 an envelope bearing three 1864 1d plate 89 issues cancelled on arrival by the "140" numeral of Redditch dated on reverse for AP 25 67. The envelope contains a 16 page letter from the Arctic regions headed "Mount Beerenberg" (Jan Mayen Island) and it contains interesting details of a voyage on the Peterhead whaler "S.S. Mazinthien". The envelope was carried by a Dundee Whaler returning to port and bears on the front of the envelope a very rare strike of the oval "Ship Letter V (Crown) R Dundee" handstamp in black ink one of only two known examples, together with a Dundee transit mark for AP 24 67. A very rare and most attractive cover. Bov#846

Letter transcription follows -

S.S. “Mazinthien” Mt Beerenberg, Jan Mayen I(slan)d,
Lat 70 ..0’ h
Longd  5.. 30 m / N.W. 90 ous,

April 9th / 67.

My Dearest Mother,

I think you may be glad to get a few lines from the vicinity of “Greenland’s” naked Isles” and perhaps it will be your first letter from the Frigid Zone, so I’ll commence now so as to be ready in case we fall in with a homeward bounder. After I wrote my last letter from Laing’s Hotel, I walked down to the ship and found we were to try at once to get out, so I hurried my traps off and onboard-and in a short time we cast off from the jetty and with a try ahead (by the way a very useless one) commenced our voyage.
The people crowded the Juir Heads to look on and cheer, I said good bye to numerous friends the men struck up a chorus a’ la merchant ship – and in the midst of a snow storm the “Mazinthien” popped out of the outer and we were off. No sooner than we were outside than we began to jitter and roll like form – I was for 24 hours much like Walter would have been, but after that came round and my only complaint since has I’m thankful to say been a tremendous appetite.
On 20th we sighted and in the evening were near up to Fair Id mentioned in the Pirate. It is quite small & was when we saw it covered in snow. On 21st we sighted the Shetlands and saw Sumbury Hd and Fitful Hd, 22nd mainland of Shetland in sight to Wd, 23rd lost sight of Unst Id, the last land in the kingdom we shall see before we come south again. The weather now got worse and for the next week it blew hard from E and NE. from a gale to a fresh breeze, with a heavy cross sea running, of a very peculiar kind, from NE, East and South. The ship behaved badly more Capt Gray says than he was known to before, but we put it down to having 300 tons of coals under the nr hatchway – and steamed too low down. She shipped for some days a great deal of water, both over the weather & lee rail, but I was glad of a chance to see how a “blubber hunter” gets on under such circumstances.
The Doctor and engineer were very bad for about a week, although both have often been at sea, the former up here the last 6 years running. On 28th I saw from the mast head Jan Mayen’s Is., it runs NE and SW near the NE end is Mount Beerenberg 6870ft high, we have since seen it 80 miles off – I must stop for a bit as we are bumping so infernally on giant lumps of ice that one can hardly write.
3pm, to go on with my letter on 28th I saw for the 1st time ice floating on the sea, and on 29th we were well in among fields of it. Sea water ice is of a very pale green colour the surface of course in nearly all cases covered in snow. I was much interested to watch for the 1st time the process of sea water freezing. 1st the water looks thick and slimy and gets a greyish hue, then appear on the surface round dots like pennies these increase gradually in size & are known by the name of pancakes, and at last they join sides and get congealed together; but before joining and while still soft if there is even the least motion on the water, or any wind to speak of blowing, by nudging against each other the sides are jagged & turned up in ledges and so the ice becomes quite rough, and I have rarely seen as yet a bit of ice 10 feet and more that you could skate on.
Of course our 1st business was to look for seals and having made the pack edge, which is the edge of the frozen solid ice – (that newly frozen is called “Bay Ice”, and the large bits blown off from the pack, “Streams) we coasted along it to N Ed in search of our prey- after seeing one or two stragglers one Sunday afternoon we came upon several on a stream, and on the next morning found ourselves among a large body of them. These are (2) as I make out at present 4 parts of seals in the sea, up north; Saddle backs” which are the ones we chiefly get, these are so called from a cart of mark the very old ones have in the middle of the back; “Bladder Noses” the largest of all, the males have on their nose a bladder – “Floe Seals” the smallest of all and which I’ve not yet seen – and the “ground seal” found only on or close to land. The “Saddle Backs” are about 6 or 8 feet long, varying in colour from a dark brown or grey in the males to a much lighter hue among the fair sex, some of whom are nearly white- others are spotted – a large seal is so heavy that one man can hardly haul him onto the ice, and when skinned or flinched as it is called his skin and blubber are one man’s load to drag over the ice – the blubber is the flesh next inside and adhering to the skin, and when thick will weigh ina large seal a cwt all. 1st April we were busy sealing and throwing overboard 40 tons of coals to make room for seals – we had calculated on burning a good deal before we fell in with seals. The ice held pretty well together that day though one had to jump from piece to piece very often, but I got a pleasant day on the floe & shot several seals. You must hit them with a bullet through the head and then they actually die almost at once. The next day it came on to blow and the ice began to get more scattered, this is a great nuisance at it makes sealing slow & laborious work. 3rd It blew still harder but we got several seals. 4th was a more moderate day and we got a good many – 5th Blowing again & but slow work – 6th Blowing hard, could not seal. 7th Blowing but got a few. 8th Blowing hard – in a word it has blown more or less of a gale from North & N.E. for the last 8 or 9 days. This is unlucky, had we got 150 tons we should have gone home probably and been away again to Davis Straits, now we must take what we can get, and then go north – as to the cold – it’s all tosh!
I don’t mean that we are troubled with heat. But the cold is nothing much to speak of, a few men have been slightly frost bittern, but I can only say that I never thank goodness felt better in my life than I’ve done since I came up here. You’ve no idea how fresh & fine the air is; I should like to see Dr Gully’s patients eat as much solid food as we do – one feels some times as if nothing would satisfy one. I believe this is one of the healthiest countries out. You like I know to hear one’s daily life, so I’ll shortly tell it you.
I get up sometime between 7 & 8 usually breakfast when washed, walk about on deck during the forenoon if I do not go on the ice; and when below read, or work navigation – at about 1h to 1.30pm we dine, the food is simple and to a sort of routine, (Sunday) roast mutton & plum pudding, (Monday) a beef steak pie, (Tuesday) barley broth & boiled beef, (Wednesday) some sort of soup & mince, (Thursday) we have roast beef – on (Friday) Potato broth and salt fish, (Saturday) pea soup and roast pork.  Afternoon, I walk about, read write, talk, Tea & meat at 5.30 or 6.00 then walk on decks till 8.30 or 9.00 when we go below. Captn Gray & I drink a glass of punch, or half and half and at 11 or 12 to bed.
Our mess consists of Captn, Doctor, 1st & 2nd Mates, Engineer, and myself. The doctor is a young man who the Captn often abuses and makes do all sorts of work; but here no one is proud, I myself some-times scour the ship, give the men their grog on the ice, or when they are away take a trick at the helm, besides regularly keeping the ships log& generally being the one to take & work the observations. Time is on the whole taking away pretty quickly and pleasantly. The 1st mate is a very good sort of fellow but given to liquor, the 2nd mate a good steady hand. Engineer attentive to work, quiet and civil – he and the 2nd mate are very clever at finding with their levelness; was it Brummell or Sheridan whose relations were he thought dead as he’d seen them do so, could he have behold the dexterity with which me friends here perform that (3) feat even while the ship is rolling her lee gunwale under water, he would no longer have found for the safety of those who only practice it on terra firma.
If my paper is dirty don’t be surprised for I can not bring myself to call the ship clean; we do try to keep the cabin so, but it is labour in vain; & today the stove has been smoking - you should – or perhaps you should not lest it horrified you – see our upper deck; at times one mass of coal dust, blubber, blood and grease, all frozen together, the men half butchers half sailors, wholly ruffian and coal heaver combined they look a rum lot & quite fit to murder the young seals. A little seal is about the dearest little animal in creation. It is quite white with a furry soft coat, reminding you of a lamb, except that no lamb was ever half so pretty; it looks at you with big black lustrous eyes, and seems to impulse your pity, while it cries in the most plaintive way for its mother.
The sealer approaches with his club drives the iron spike with which it is armed into the seals’ brain & drags him off to be flinched. The old seal hearing the cries of her young one rises to the surface and putting her head out of water looks round, while you try to seize the moment and put a bullet through her. It really seems like murder to kill these harmless innocent things; of course I don’t kill the young ones, only shoot the old, but one consoles oneself by reflecting that if you don’t others will.
We have now onboard about 4000 seals, most of them indeed for the greater part – young ones; this is = to about 40 or 50 tons of seal oil worth 45 or 50 £ a ton. The skins 7/- old ones 3/- to 3/6d young.
The ship would hold about 200 tons – last year she got in 4 days 150 tons, but that was in a close pack & the seals could not escape into the water, so they clubbed both old & young.
I do not expect we shall this year get more than 70 tons of seal oil as these gales of wind are fast breaking the ice up and one has to cruise about miles & miles in search of seals. After this is over our course is in the direction of Spitzbergen to look for whales. The ice is this year a long way to the E. of Greenland which leads us to hope there may be what is called a S.E. pack – that is a line of ice extending right across to Ed in about 73 to 75 of Lat joining the ice on the Greenland coast with the ice north of the White Sea and Norway. When this is the case there is just on the S.W. coast of Spitzbergen a piece of open water sheltered from the ocean swell & here the whales congregate, and in such years the fishery is the best. Let us hope it will prove so this year. We have had one or two fine mornings since we have been up here, and a fine morning hue is really beautiful. The sun now sets at about 7.40pm but twilight lasts a long time, and to the westd a bright red colour remains on the horizon shaded off gradually to the upper sky – as it gets darker the aurora often flashes out, sometimes transversing the heavens right across like a river of liquid fire, remaining for some time but waving gracefully from side to side, while other smaller streams occasionally dart out on either hand.
The air is beautifully clear up here and distant objects especially in the morning and evening stand out with great prominence. We have now aboard I suppose about 60 tons of seal oil – the ship will hold altogether nearly 200 tons of oil. I think it probable we shall in the course of this month make up to 80 tons, perhaps more. Then if we go north our course is about N.E. for S end of Spitzbergen where we hope to fall in with some whales and how long we may be filling up is quite improbable to say. Sometimes ships come home from there in July, sometimes (4) in August or September – I shall now get this letter ready to send away in case a chance should suddenly occur, which may be in a day or two or may not be for 2 or 3 weeks.
The more oil we get here before going north of course the less we shall want there and so we ought to be all the sooner home. I’ve no expectation of getting my letters sent from Peterhead; but shall naturally be anxious for news as soon as possible when I get back there, so I hope one will now & then even if short once a month or 6 weeks, find its way there from somebody telling the news. This is in my opinion the worst time of year in England, and I wish you well over it, especially my father to whom it also brings heavier duties. But Lent is fast passing and before you get this will be long gone.
I hope Walter & Dick have by now begun their house, and heard no more of the Indians being in their neighbourhood, or that if they have come our friends at Monte Moulin have a very good account to give of them. I suppose Ally will come home some time after Easter, he said I remember that he shouldn’t do so again before then. We have not many religious observations aboard here – salt fish on Friday for dinner is the only one I have seen, and even that they disclaim – Captn Gray is at I believe I told you before a member of the free Kirk, but we manage not to become violent on doctrinal subjects. The doctor is a Church of England man – I hope you mean to go away for a little time in May or June to pay some visits. You know how much good I always think change of air and scene do one, I believe this country is about the most healthy in the world , but perhaps you might think it a little too cold, however it seems to me quite a place to get health and strength in provided one has nothing particular the matter with one.
April 19th,
Fanny’s letter details some of our last week’s movements than this one does and I am just now writing in haste on the chance of getting it put today on board a steamer bound home, so you will understand and also excuse the hurried ending. I should be much obliged if you would have put together in a parcel. My light thin summer suit and one of my very thin flannels & a thin pair of socks and send them, as a parcel by goods train, or as you think best to the care of

Mrs Laing,
Laing’s Hotel,

To await my arrival, as if I come home about mid-summer it will feel rather warm and I should like to have something cool and clean to wear. Perhaps I may write again, but it’s quite doubtful if there’ll be a chance, anyhow in case we do send these today I must stop now, and with best wishes to you all at home. I remain with much love to my father & yourself yours ever           
very affect son,
E. Seymour.

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