Lot Archive


№ 1368


1 December 2004

Hammer Price:

H.M.S. Calliope at Samoa 1889, The Marquis de Leuville’s Presentation Medal, 30mm., pewter, obverse: ‘British Seamanship and Captain Kane of H.M.S. Calliope from an Admirer, The Marquis de Leuville’; reverse: arms of The Marquis de Leuville, pierced for ring suspension, ref. Milford Haven 642, very fine £40-50

In March 1889, a dispute having arisen between Germany and the United States over the possession of the islands of Samoa; three German and three U.S. warships were at anchor in the harbour of Apia Upolu in Samoa. With them were several merchant ships and the British warship H.M.S. Calliope (Captain Kane) which was present to safeguard British interests. On the night of 15 March a hurricane struck. Because of the diplomatic situation, the warships were unwilling to leave harbour for the comparative safety of the open sea. In the hurricane, lashed by violent seas, all the ships started to drag at their anchors, began to collide and were being driven towards the shore. Calliope, though damaged, had managed to raise steam and in the early morning of the 16 March managed with much difficulty to manoeuvre out of the harbour and reach the safety of the open sea where she was able to ride out the storm. As she steamed out of the harbour she was given ‘three cheers’ by the officers and men aboard the doomed U.S.S. Trenton. All the other warships were beached and wrecked and some 200 lives were lost. Captain Kane was thanked by the Admiralty for his skill and seamanship.