Original British Napoleonic Royal Navy Bellows Foghorn by Triton from the H.M.S. CAESAR c.1795
Original Item: One of a Kind. IMA Owner Christian Cranmer has been collecting for over sixty years, however until recently, he didn't even know that these existed! However, in the last five years, we have now offered five of these magnificent pieces for sale, and now we have found a sixth! So few of these survived until today, as the bellows portion of the fog horn could be utilized for many different uses.
These are constructed like an old blacksmith's pair of Bellows of wood, with two wooden paddles joined with "accordion" style leather to make a large hinged bag. This example is stamped on one of the handles with (Broad Arrow) / B.O. for Board of Ordnance, the standard acceptance mark seen on Napoleonic Era items that passed inspection. It has an all brass foghorn "trumpet," which screws off the front brass mounting bolster. This is engraved with very distinct CROWN over G.R., for George III. It is also stamped TRITON, a maker name we have seen before on these items.
The trumpet of the foghorn is very nicely engraved with the name of the ship it served on: the famous H.M.S. CAESAR. This was not intended as an item of pride, but merely to discourage theft by a similar British Naval vessel. Amazingly, even with worn leather, this pair of Bellows Fog Horn still works, giving a healthy "honk" when worked quickly. During the Napoleonic Era, Fog and Gun Powder Smoke quickly blinded all concerned and these Fog Horns were introduced to "croak" into the gloom to help avoid a sea collision with another vessel.
HOWEVER, we have recently been told that although these were used as fog horns, they were most commonly used as a set of BELLOWS to quickly heat up the coals in the brazier on deck, which heated the Cannon Balls to "RED HOT" before being fired at enemy ships, causing devastating fires. Definitely an interesting way of increasing the usefulness of every item on board.
The foghorn measures 34 3/4 inches overall, with a width of about 11 inches. The removable trumpet is 12 inches long, not including the threads that screw into the bolster.
In really nice condition. very collectible and ready to add to your Royal Navy collection!
HMS Caesar, also Cæsar, was an 80-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 16 November 1793 at Plymouth. She was designed by Sir Edward Hunt, and was the only ship built to her draught. She was also one of only two British-built 80-gun ships of the period, the other being HMS Foudroyant (1798).
Battle of Algeciras Bay
She was involved in the Battle of Algeciras Bay in 1801, during which her Master, William Grave, was killed and buried in Trafalgar Cemetery in Gibraltar.
Battle of Cape Ortegal
The Battle of Cape Ortegal was the final action of the Trafalgar Campaign, and was fought between a squadron of the Royal Navy and a remnant of the fleet that had been destroyed several weeks earlier at the Battle of Trafalgar. It took place on 4 November 1805 off Cape Ortegal, in northwest Spain and saw a squadron under Captain Sir Richard Strachan in Caesar defeat and capture a French squadron under Rear-Admiral Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley.
Battle of Les Sables-d'Olonne
In 1809, she took part in the Battle of Les Sables-d'Olonne. The Battle of Les Sables-d'Olonne was a limited frigate action that took place on 23 February 1809 off Les Sables-d'Olonne. Three ships of the line and two attached ships of the British squadron blockading the harbours of the Atlantic coast engaged a small French frigate squadron comprising Calypso (40), Cybèle (40) and Italienne (40). The French managed to repel the British attack but at the cost of irreparable damage leading to the subsequent decommissioning of the three frigates involved.
On 23 February, the French frigate squadron arrived near Belle Île. The frigate HMS Amelia (38) and the 18-gun brig-sloop Dotterel spotted the squadron and shadowed it. A few hours later, Calypso spotted five ships and a frigate heading to Lorient. The chase went on all night. The next morning, as the frigates arrived off Tour de la Baleine on the Île de Ré, the British ships were so close that they started manoeuvering to pass the stern of Cybèle. The French then challenged Amelia and Dotterel, which failed to answer their signals, and Italienne hauled up to support Cybèle. La Gravière then decided to seek refuge at Les Sables-d'Olonne, under the protection of coastal defences, before larger British forces could gather.
The French arrived at Les Sables-d'Olonne at 9:15 and made anchor in shallow waters. A quarter of an hour later, the British arrived, Amelia and Dotterel having joined with the Third Rates HMS Caesar (80), HMS Defiance (74) and HMS Donegal (74), under Admiral Robert Stopford. In spite of the shallow waters, Defiance was able to anchor within half a mile of the French frigates, on the right of Italienne, whilst HMS Donegal and HMS Caesar had to anchor further out because of their deeper draughts.
A furious artillery exchange broke out that caused considerable damage to all involved. Italienne and Cybèle had their cables cut and caught fire, while Calypso was beached. Three hours into the fight, Defiance, whose manoeuvers the high reefs had hampered, found herself stranded in an unfavourable position and exposed to French fire for so long that she had to retreat, her stern entirely destroyed. The frigates and coastal forts inflicted lesser damage on Caesar and Donegal. Amelia had her bowsprit shot through and she was holed in several places but had no casualties.
An hour and a half afterwards, descending tides made the waters too shallow for the British ships and they had to break off. Jurien de la Gravière's badly battered squadron then entered the harbour of Les Sables d'Olonne, having lost 64 men killed and 47 wounded.
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