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SHIPS LOST WITHOUT TRACE
NOT EVEN A PHOTOGRAPH LEFT CAPTAIN LEE'S INTERESTING HOBBY
glXTY seven albums containing photographs of 10,000 sailing ships — and yet the collection is not complete. Nevertheless, on the authority of Basil Lubbock, author of many books about the sea, it is the best collection in the world. The gathering together of phonographs ('paintings, no, they do not appeal') of sailing ships of all nations is the hobby of Captain W. F. Lee, who will t-.nlrp hhp Aripla.irip Stfiamshin Com
pany's fine steamer, the Moonta, into the Gulf trade today. He has been collecting since he was a boy, and diligently he gathered, bones and bottles and did odd jobs to get the wherewithal to buy the photographs. 'There was an old photographer,' he said yesterday, 'who took a picture of every sailing ship that came along. He imbibed rather freely, and I used to wait until he was half seas over, and then go along for his spares. Sometimes I would say, 'What about this one?' when there was something new, and he would sell me a half crown picture for a shilling or less.'' Captain Lee carried on until he went to sea. But, in 1910, when he unearthed the almost forgotten collec tion, to show it to another sea captain who had the same hobby, the old love came upon him, and he refused to part with his pictures for love or money Since then he has combed the world for photographs of sailing ships — in some cases in vain. He studied photo graphy with the sole object of adding ;o his collection, and has copied about 3,000 photographs of ships.
Few Sailers Left Deep water sailing vessels have nearly all vanished from the sea. Cap tain Lee says there are not 50 left, and not one square-rigged ship under the British flag. The Finns nave 23 and the Germans about a dozen, the rest being divided among several countries. Some ships have been lost without leav ing a trace, or even a photograph. In earlier years, some of the sailers trad ing exclusively between Great Britain and South Australia were as well known as the mail steamers Orontes and Otranto today. Among these were the Oriana, the Bundaleer, the Craigen darroch, the Kapunda, the Morialta, the Lamorna. and the Collingrove (the forerunner of the famous Tor rens), but of these Captain Lee cannot fine one photograph. The Loch Lomond, of the well remembered Loch line, is another ship of which no photograph has been discovered by Captain Lee. He communicates with people hi every part of the world where the ship or members of its crew have been; but, in some cases, his search has been without avail. The Loch Lomond was attached to the Loch line until 1911. when she was sold to the Union Steam ship Company for use as a training ship in New Zealand. But she never reached the Dominion. The Aeolus, lost on Cape Banks in 1895, and the Star of Austria, which was wrecked about the same time, also are not in the collection, and all attempts to trace photographs of these vessels have failed. Knows 'Every Ship In The World One outcome of this hobby is that Captain Lee can recognise on sight any deep-sea sailing vessel in the world, though he may never have seen the ship before. AH periods have had dif ferent designs, and' all marine archi tects leave characteristic traces of their work somewhere about a ship. If a photograph of a sailer comes to Captain Lee for identification, he studies the lines, and decides to what period it belonged. If it is a clipper ship, it must have been built about the 'seventies, for these ships came in to challenge steam and went out, when owners found that the sacrifice of cargo space to secure speed lines was uneconomic. So, in the 'eighties, broader line? were adopted. In one case a photograph which had baffled everybody else, was sent to Captain Lee for identification. He noticed the long jibboom, which indicated that she was one of the older type, because jibbooms grew shorter, and then jibbooms and bowsprits be came one. One feature after another
was noted, and the lengtn ol tne fo'castle head and poop were measured up and checked with the description in Lloyd's Register, of the ship he be lieved this photograph to represent, namely, the County of Peebles. Hav ing cleared up the mystery, he took the photograph out of the frame to copy it, and found the name County of Peebles written in pencil on the back. If a ship comes along which he has seen before, but which has changed its name, its color, its flag, and even its silhouette, he seldom fails to re cognise it. Even sister ships built by different firms have their tell-tale marks in the shape of the cutwater or of the stern. Two firms building to the same specification would not turn out identical ships. Even two ships built by the same firm would not both have the same sailing quali ties. So, to such a practised eye as his, the camouflage of the big liners during the war, or the shifts adoptet by the crews of the Q ships, would have been no disguise.