Berkeleysider Greg Merritt caught sight of “a fleeting (incredibly minor) historical event” on his mobile phone yesterday morning: the move of the hand-carved wooden Persephone figurehead from the former UC Berkeley Water Resources Center Archives to her new home on the walls of the campus’ Naval Architecture building.
Merritt may think this is inconsequential, but it is also, as he points out, about as “Berkeley local” as you can get — and therefore it’s right up our alley.
Some background information from UC Berkeley’s Water Resources Center Archives on the Persephone figurehead, dug up by Merritt, adds some context:
“Persephone languished for decades in a Yorkshire sea captain’s garden until an antique dealer in England restored her. The figurehead is believed to be the work of an Italian master craftsman who carved her from a tree trunk. Persephone was last known to have graced the prow of a ship in the 1850s, when she was the figurehead of the Barque* Zodiac. The Zodiac, built at Salcombe in South Devon, England, sailed out of Whitby on the Baltic trade.” *A barque is a sailing vessel with a square-rigged foremast, mainmast and aft-rigged mizzenmast.
Oh, and just to add another interesting related nugget to the story, the archives from which the above information was sourced were recently (2010) removed from UC Berkeley amid no small amount of controversy.
Thank you Greg. We welcome all such contributions from readers about under-the-radar happenings in our fair city.
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