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Image of front of programme

A Coronation Discovery

Ernest Ibbetson is widely recognized as a prolific and successful early 20th Century illustrator. His images are widely seen accompanying adventure stories and military postcards, cigarette cards, and other elements of popular British culture. A biography and catalogue raisonné of Ibbetson's work (Ernest Ibbetson - Military Artist and Adventure Story Illustrator) was published in 2008 by Dr. Frank A. Barrett.

In his detailed lists by category, Dr. Barrett shows the Ibbetson cover image of the Official Programme of the Coronation Review Spithead with the comment 'contents unknown'. Guess what? Thanks to a fortunate find at a recent ephemera fair, the contents are now known!

Within the booklet's 48 pages are complete details of the British Navy of 1911. Silhouettes of every ship of the fleet are shown, ranging from the 42 Battleships through to the Torpedo Gunboats. The various Fleet groupings are shown, and of course the centrefold is a map of the layout of the vessels participating in the Review of the Fleet by His Majesty on June 24, 1911 off Portsmouth.

The captions on either side of Ibbetson's saluting tar promise that the reader will learn "All About the Ships" and "All About the Guns and Men". Now we know that this promise is fulfilled by the contents, and thanks to ephemera we have this wonderful marriage of Coronation, art, and naval history.

John G. Sayers



This regular feature shows special items from members’ own collections. Submissions by email should include a scan of the item.