Although I grew up within walking distance of the ocean, yacht races such as the historic America’s Cup–the match races between sailing yachts that have been held since 1851–have been largely off my radar. So I relished the opportunity to sail through nearly twenty years of America’s Cup history through a new Flickr album, “America’s Cup,” compiled with the aid of an enthusiastic researcher.
Flickr member Charley Seavey has long been exploring Prints & Photographs Division online images, with a particular focus on the Detroit Publishing Company Collection. The collection includes more than 25,000 glass negatives produced and collected by the Detroit Photographic Company (later called the Detroit Publishing Company), a photographic publishing firm that got its start in the late 1890s selling postcards, prints and other products.
Diving deeply into the collection, Charley has helped us with boat-related identifications, and he has compiled his own thematic albums on Flickr. Spotting a good representation of America’s Cup photos, 1885-1903, in the collection, Charley agreed to select some to feature in Flickr. Having risen to the challenge of limiting himself to about 20 photos, he served as our guide to details in the photos (prevailing winds, sailing maneuvers, how the boats appeared in drydock) and events surrounding the challenges through a chronology included in the album description.
Here, for instance, are Charley’s comments for photos from the 1895 challenge:
1895 Valkyrie III vs Defender, ends in chaos with the Earl of Dunraven [owner of Valkyrie III] withdrawing after an uproar. This photo shows pre-start maneuvering, which explains why they are going in opposite directions. Getting a better start than your opponent can be critical in a match race (one on one) like this. A much later generation of Cup sailors would refer to pre-race maneuvering as the “…mating dance of the lead bottomed money gobblers.”
Charley selected two additional photos from this race, highlighting each of the yachts involved. Regarding the photo of Defender and her crew, he commented, “The headcount will give you an idea how big these vessels were.”
Gratitude flows in both directions for the opportunity to highlight these images. Noted Charley, “This was a fun project for me. I love fooling with the old photographs, and think that LoC has done us all a great service by digitizing them.” We appreciate the time and attention Charley has devoted to the collections, not to mention his enthusiasm, which is contagious.
- View the America’s Cup Flickr album. Select the “Show more” link on the opening screen to see Charley Seavey’s chronology and discussion of the challenges.
- Explore more America’s Cup photos in the Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
- Read about the Detroit Publishing Company Collection, which captures many aspects of life on land and water in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
- Survey the variety of albums available through the Library of Congress Flickr account, and learn more about our Flickr project.