Naval Notations: Warships in the Illustrated London News 1842-1891 by Bob Nicholls, 25 Duke Street, Balmain NSW 2041, Australia. c. 1994. 58 pages, plastic comb binding, with illustrations. US$13 payable by M/C, VISA or US Check. Price includes economy airmail. Phone / Fax 61-2-810-7417. e-mail:

Naval Notations is an index and research aid for 19th century warship appearing in lithograph illustrations in the pages of the Illustrated London News. The index covers the years 1842 - the first year of publication - to 1891, after which photographs became more widely available.

Most, if not all of the 630 warships appearing in the 99 volumes are covered in the 58 pages of tables and text of this resource. Included are ships destined for the Royal Navy and the navies of the United States, Russia, France, Japan, China and many smaller services such as Egypt and the Vatican.

For each ship there is a number assigned in sequential order; name of the ship in alphabetical order, as spelled in the Illustrated London News; ship type; class; builder; country; year, volume and page for illustration; remarks; illustration providing a judgment of the technical, as opposed to artistic, quality of the illustration and its suitability for reproduction; A Y or N in the final column indicates if a technical description of the ship is given in the accompanying text. In the case of N an account of the activity in which the ship was engaged is given.

So for example we find that the Agamemnon is a screw line of battleship built at Woolwich for the British Navy. Appeared in 1852, vol.20 page 431 with information on her launch. A 3 rating on a 5 point scale is given for technical accuracy of the illustration and yes, a description of the ship is provided. Later entries listed show her off Sebastopol, attacking Sebastopol, shell damage to interiors, laying Atlantic telegraph cable and providing a stern view. Another Agamemnon is cited, this time a turret battleship launched in 1879.

When the name of a particular ship is known but does not appear in the main list a listing of sister ships is provided. Here dates given identify when the class of vessel were under construction. These ships are cross-referenced to the ships in the main listing.

The book concludes with a listing of the Royal Naval and private shipyards from around the British Isles.

If you have ancestors who were in the Navy in the 19th century then this index should be obtained to gain quick access to information found in the Illustrated London News.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.3 no.1, 1996