An Early 20thC Canvas Board of Trade Standard Life Jacket From the Vessel Pronto


Origin: British
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1920-40
Height: 12 inches (at maximum)
Width: 20 inches (at maximum)
Weight: 0.8 KGS

The white canvas stamped ‘Board of Trade Standard Life Jacket’, and to verso ‘Pronto’ having two large sections and ties survives from the first half of the twentieth century.

The jacket is in good relatively clean order with no holes or tears and the straps remain, the whole with water stain and general soiling but nothing that isn’t commensurate with its age. The filling is soft, perhaps kapok, certainly not cork but is original to the jacket.

The first cork life jacket was patented in 1765 by Dr John Wilkinson and early cork jackets were commonly in use from the 1880 era into the 1930’s.

The vessel Pronto was delivered in May 1920 from Hansawerft N.V. Werft Zeeland, Rotterdam as Lombardia  and purchased in Aug.-1923 by H. M. Wrangell & Co. A/S, Haugesund on behalf of D/S A/S Produce and renamed Pronto. She was in service in East Asia and the ship and company were taken over by Jacob Odland S.S. in Jan.-1938. Pronto was on charter to Ministry of War Transport from 1940 and returned after the war. The Chief Engineer of the ship, Jacob H. Jacobsen, and 1st Mate Marlow B. Johansen both received British "Commendations".

Highly evocative of nautical disasters such as Titanic, this piece of life-saving maritime interest can be highly decorative if displayed imaginatively.