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An Edwardian Silver ‘Resurgam’ Submarine Inkwell, 1906
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An Edwardian Silver ‘Resurgam’ Submarine Inkwell, 1906

Measurements: Length: 17cm (7in)



Silver. An inkwell modelled in the form the prototype submarine ‘Resurgam’, mounted on a blue green marble base (19.5cm (7.75in) long). Hallmarked Birmingham 1906

The brainchild of the Reverend George Garnett (1852-1902) the 14-foot long, hand-cranked Resurgam I (‘I shall rise again’) was designed and built as a weapon of war in 1878 to penetrate the chain netting placed around ship’s hulls to defend against attack by torpedo vessels. Nicknamed, the ‘curate’s egg’, it’s small size however rendered it ineffective as a weapon. This was followed by a second (and more famous) Resurgam II of 1879. It was 45 feet long, displaced 38 tons submerged and was powered by steam - the furnace and chimney being shut off before diving.

After successful trials in the north west, it was planned that Resurgam should make her way under her own power from Birkenhead to Portsmouth for a demonstration to the Royal Navy. However, during the voyage mechanical problems caused the crew to dock for repairs. Once completed, the crew set sail at night in a high wind, towed by the steam yacht Elphin, which Garrett had bought to act as a tender. The Elphin developed engine trouble and Resurgam's crew were transferred to her to assist. Disastrously Resurgam II’s main hatch could not be fastened from the outside, and the Garnett’s submarine began to ship water until the tow-rope broke under the added weight, and the Resurgam sank off Rhyl on 25 February 1880.