Figurehead of the HMS Black Eagle

Basic Information

Figurehead type
Figurehead of the HMS Black Eagle
Vessel name
Black Eagle
Type (Naval/Merchant)
Copyright owner
© National Museum of the Royal Navy
Copyright notes
Photo: © National Museum of the Royal Navy
Current location
National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth
Location date

Physical Information

This is a carving of a black eagle perched upon a scroll of foliage. The eagles wings are outspread as it leans forward revealing a curved gold cross on the underside of the left wing. Each feather is meticulously carved. On the chest of the bird there is a gold and red Prussian crown, which is derived from the Prussian royal coat of arms. The figurehead is painted black with gold feet.
Hellyer of Portsmouth
Date made
Place made
Object history
The original figurehead on the ship, when it was known as HMS 'Firebrand' is thought to have been carved by George Faldo of London at the price £24.12.8, but little is known about the design. Letters found from 1846 show that the Admiral Superintendent at Portsmouth chose Hellyer of Portsmouth for the Black Eagle design.
Vessel history
HMS 'Firebrand', an Admiralty yacht was built in Limehouse by Curling, Young & Co. and was launched in July 1831. At this time the ship ran on a ‘Butterley’ engine, powered by steam and paddle-wheels. The ship was then refitted in 1835 and given a ‘Maudslay’ engine. 'Firebrand' then went on to carry the Admiralty Board round the royal dockyards. In 1842 she was renamed 'Black Eagle', a tribute to the Prussian royal family and was rebuilt again. The ship was lengthened and given more powerful oscillating engines manufactured by John Penn. In 1857 the ship was taken to Portsmouth and became a tender, finally being broken up in 1876.

David Pulvertaft ‘The Warship Figureheads of Portsmouth’ (Stroud, 2009) p.66
Admiralty Catalogue (1911) No 342

Ownership Information

Owner type
Public Institution
Owner name
National Museum of the Royal Navy
Contact details
HM Naval Base Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 3NU
Ownership can be cited online
Accessible to public
Data verified by owner
Date verified

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