This is a very interesting and fascinating story about the Great Eastern wax doll.
In 1858 Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the 19,000 ton Great Easter Steam Liner. She was so big that she had to be launched sideways. She was built extremely large with the expectation of sailing from Europe to Australia and was at that time the largest ship every afloat.
She was made to travel without refueling until she reached Calcutta. Her length was 6890 feet - 211 m).
Brunel decided not to send her to Australia, but do the transatlantic run but there was a terrible explosion and the funnel launched liked a rocket scalded men inside, one of them throwing himself overboard and then mangled to death by the great blade wheels.
Brunel had a stroke on receiving the news. on June 17 1860 she made her maiden voyage to New York, and received a fourteen cannon salute.
She had 15000 people visiting her on July 6 and over 2,000 people took short cruises on her although only 200 berths had been made ready. The ship actually had room for 2,000 passengers.
She had several nasty accidents whilst afloat and started to lose money. In 1865 the second transatlantic cable was to be laid out and no ship was big enough to carry this enormous cable except the Great Eastern/ She accomplished all her missions with the cable.
In 1888 she was crapped for 16,000 pounds. When taking her apart a skeleton was discovered inside her double bottom. He was one of the workers that had built the ship in the 1950's. Was it he that had cursed the Great Eastern when he realized that no one could hear him or let him out?
Was it he that brought misery to the gigantic Great Eastern Ship?
Anyway the doll in question has been verified as dating from this period. It is a wax shoulder head on a wooden carved body with black beads set into the face.
He wears the correct sailors uniform from that era, although the front of the costume is dark blue silk and disintegrating by the minute.
The back of the costume is perfect. The cardboard black hat he wears bears the name The Great Eastern around the band - could this be a mascot for such a great ship?- if so this precedes Norah Wellings mascot liner dolls by a considerable number of years, making it surely one of the first.
Does anyone else have a doll from this great liner. I would be so interested to know! Let me now what you think. I will upload some photos shortly thanks very much
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