Original British Early Victorian Admiral Barge Tiller Head

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is perhaps the STAR item from our marine collection acquisition in England that originated from a castle museum closure in 2003. IMA was first able to buy just eight pieces in 2009 and in 2012 we were able to purchase the remaining dozen pieces.

This is a solid brass Tiller Head that fit over the rudder/tiller shaft of a barge and it allows the steering seaman to control the direction in which the barge travels whilst standing, facing forward, with his back to the tiller, by means of two ropes, one in either hand.

We do not know which Admiral to which this particular tiller head was assigned, however, it is magnificently constructed from heavy brass, fully engraved, and bears a Coat of Arms that could be further researched.

In the basic shape of a coat hanger, with holes at the ends of each arm, the center section directly over the tiller shaft is a wonderful SPHINX clearly commemorating Britain's great Naval Victory at the Battle of the Nile of August 1st-3rd. 1798 (Formerly known as the Battle of Abourkir Bay).

The body of the head is engraved on one side with a Campsite scene of British Marines accompanied by camels & palm trees in sight of the Egyptian Pyramids, again the recalling the Nile campaign.

The other side of the head is engraved with Britannia overseeing a smoke stacked paddle steamer with sails, no doubt the latest technology of the day in the 1850s or thereabout. There is a coat of arms, also of a paddle steamer with sails and smoke stack beneath a setting sun with the motto:


Translated to mean; who will separate us? A Motto used by several British regiments including the royal dragoon guards and interestingly the U.S. state of South Carolina. On the rear is the maker's mark: "MASSIE, facit (made it), Wapping, London"

The whole head measuring 19 inches across, a most unusual naval artifact, almost certainly never to be found again.

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