Certificate of Registry, ship station licence, insurance papers, skipper licences and what more do we keep on-board when sailing the seas or navigating the inland rivers and lakes. Very often such documents are kept in an ugly plastic zip pouch, safe and secure from the elements.

 

In the good old days, such documents were kept in a chest of some sort, which was stored and secured in the captains quarters. A very rare and unusual example of possibly such a chest is this 17th century example covered in manuscripts maps on vellum. It is suspected that the nautical charts on the chest are from the hand of the owner. Who knows, maybe it was a form of occupational therapy during tedious long voyages.

 

[Mariner’s Chest], c1690, 320 x 740mm. Photo © Daniel Crouch Rare Books Ltd

 

Of a total different order is a 19th century captains document tin we recently acquired. Taking the services Lorrendraaier offers into consideration, it is not hard to imagine that it was impossible to resist the opportunity of purchasing such an item.

The tin, measuring 380 x 150 x 60mm, still has its original padlock and bears the name of the captain, which proves it was personally owned by the skipper, and not part of a vessels inventory.

 

Now the question was of course, who was M.A. Engelsma. Marcus Ales Engelsma was his full name and he was a professional skipper from the Frisian town of Terherne. He was from a family of professional skippers of cargo barges and possibly affluential members of the skippers guild in Terherne.

 

Marcus was owner and captain of a tjalk, a Dutch barge, called De Jonge Hanna, named after his mother Hanna Alles Eenshuistra (1782-1853). He not only navigated the inland waters of the Netherlands, but records prove he also delivered cargo in Gent, Belgium.

Next mission, the purchase De Jonge Hanna …… if she is still around 😉