Pass of Balmaha, renamed Walter, On December 21, 1916 she sailed as Seeadler under command of Kapitanleutnant Felix von Luckner

(see "Count Felix von Luckner: Index of Ahoy's articles and correspondence")

Dear Mr. Gregory,

Searching for information about thr ship depicted on the painting I have, I came upon Your site and details about the Seeadler. The painting is an original from Christopher Rave, signed by him, and is in my family for at least 70 years. The painting has quite a story:

We lived in Berlin - Germany, and in 1940/41 the air raids of the allies started, and my parents hid the painting together with another, from another German painter - Schlichting - on a farm in the contryside, where it was improbable that the bombs would fall.

My mother and I fled from Berlin in march of 1945, to the West - and after the war my mother managed to take the paintings out of the Soviet sector to West Germany where we now were living.
In 1951 we emigrated to Brazil. My father passed away in 1965, and my mother in 1992. I am the last of this branch of our family.

The size of the painting is L 58"x H 34", still in it's original frame. Comparing the vessel of the painting with the photo of the "Pass of Balmaha", one notices that the rigging is practically identical, and  the form of the hull also matches. I would appreciate to hear Your comment about this. I am sending a copy of the painting.

Sincelely Yours
Reinaldo Elwert
São Sebastião - SP - Brazil


Thank you for your mail, an interesting story about your painting.

Of course Christopher Rave who signed his work Chr Rave was a German Painter who lived from 1880 to 1933.

He was quite prolific producing some 300 works on the history of Navigation, as well as his other marine works.

In 1912/1913 he was the artist, photographer/ camerman for a German Arctic expedition.
The style and profile of your painting is almost the same as Rave painted Seeadler, the only difference is that in your one, the ship is not carrying a full set of sails, as she does as Seeadler. In the painting of Seeadler you can make out her name on her starboard bow, but I cannot discern any name on your painting.

In fact, I have not ever seen a copy of your actual painting before.

Are you absolutely sure that you have an original and not a print? so many prints of Seeadler in full cry are around, and many people have written to me from around the world believing they own the original.

Perhaps you should send off to an art house in both New York and London, a good photo of your work, with another one concentrating on the signature, to seek an appraisal.

Here are some random notes about Pass of Balmaha, that may be of interest to you.

Originally named Pass of Balmaha, she was built by Robert Duncan Company, Glasgow, Scotland, in 1888. She was a 1,571-ton steel-hulled sailing vessel 245 feet in length owned by the Harris-Irby Cotton Company, Boston. She was captured by a German submarine.

Pass of Balhama
Picture of Pass of Balhama held by State Library Victoria, Australia.

Pass of Balmaha, built by Robert Duncan Company, Glasgow, Scotland in 1888, was a 1,571-ton steel-hulled sailing bark 245 feet in length. The American owned ship was was owned by the Harriss, Irby and Vose, Boston.

Under Captain John Lennard, she sailed from New York on June 24, 1915 for Archangel, Russia with a crew of 19 and a cargo of Texas grown cotton. On July 23 she was stopped by the British auxiliary cruiser, Victorian off the northwest coast of Scotland and sent to Lerwick, Scotland with a British prize crew of an officer, a petty officer and four men. The British suspected the cargo was destined for Germany. While sailing to Lerwick, Pass of Balmaha was captured by the German submarine U-36 and sailed to Cuxhaven, Germany arriving on August 3rd.

She was renamed Walter, equipped with two auxiliary engines, two 105-mm naval cannons, machine guns and a wireless set. On December 21, 1916 she sailed as Seeadler under command of Kapitanleutnant Felix von Luckner to act as a commerce raider. During the next 225 days she captured 15 ships in the Atlantic and Pacific.

Again my thanks for taking the time and trouble to reach me.

Best wishes.
Mackenzie J. Gregory.

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