Plimsoll, Samuel. M.P.


FIRST EDITION, Virtue, 1873. Vii + 89 (text) pp., plus over 60 holiotype facsimiles, maps, photo-plates, drawings, etc. Contemporary black half calf ; blue grained cloth boards ; gilt lettering to spine ; speckled edges . Professionally re-cased ; new endpapers fitted. 27 x 21cm. Some wear to edges of cloth boards ; a little foxing & dust internally, o/w V.G. Old photograph 21 x 16cm (8" x 6 '") showing a group of seven well-dressed men in a garden, tipped in. Name on top of title page of Rear-Admiral Jerningham, 1873. (Arthur William Jerningham, b. 1807, whose naval career up to 1849 appears in O'Byrne - p. 582). Samuel Plimsoll (1824-1898), a devout Christian, was known as 'the Sailors' Friend' owing to his concern and energetic endeavours to put a halt to the practice of greedy shipowners loading their vessels to almost the waterline and sending these 'coffin ships' to sea in order to maximise profits with scant regard for the safety of seamen. The introduction of the 'Plimsoll line', adopted by merchant ships the world over, eventually made seafaring that much safer. There were, however, other bad practices as outlined in Plimsoll's list of causes given below. Plimsoll had acted as Honorary Secretary for the Great Exhibition in 1851 and two years later established himself as a coal merchant in London. Between 1868 and 1880 he was Derby's radical M.P. and did much to expedite the passing of the Merchant Shipping Act in 1876. In 1875, two years after the publication of this book, Plimsoll created a scene in the House of Commons by a violent protest against the obstruction of the ship-owning members. This book had a great influence on events and brought home to the public one of the main causes for the great annual loss of life around the British coasts and elsewhere, clearly demonstrating how much of this loss was preventable. Following a Preliminary and some observations of underwriters, sailors, shipowners and the duty of the nation, Plimsoll describes the nine main causes of maritime disasters : under-manning, bad stowage, deck-loading, deficient engine-power, over-insurance, defective construction, improper lengthening, overloading, and want of repair. The author then looks at the remedy and probable results before turning his attention to the six objections : Expense. Army of Surveyors. Sanction of private institutions. Destroy responsibility. Dangerous precedent. And Opposition. He concludes his work with a note on the Mutual Insurance Societies, describes what course to take, and finally a note on his Appeal. The book is very well illustrated with numerous plates including heliotype facsimiles, photographs, maps, drawings, etc., covering sailing ships and early steamers, with the most beautiful plates (as Plimsoll describes them) stitched in at the end of the book. A cheaper "Popular Edition" was published the same year ; this is a copy of the FIRST EDITION.

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