Toothed Dolphin Press
Founded in Oxford in 2012, Toothed Dolphin Press is an independant publisher with a growing range of original books and articles in naval history and the history of art.
Our longer material is available in hard-copy on subscription either as premium volumes produced to a high standard of material and finish, or as simpler print-on-demand copies, and our shorter monographs and articles can be downloaded as PDF files at low cost. Abstracts of all our publications are available free, as are our recommended reading lists.
The Toothed Dolphin Press catalogue will cover a wide range of maritime and naval topics, and subjects in the history of art. Available now are these monographs and essays, created from original research in primary sources:
“El Virtuoso Quakero” : The English Merchant at Rosas – a biography of an English Quaker wine merchant living in Spain who spied for Admiral Lord Nelson, with a calendar of their correspondence;
Nelson at the Admiralty – a detailed study of Nelson’s frequent visits to the Royal Navy’s headquarters in London;
Flowers, Fish, Cherubs and Sea-charts : Grinling Gibbons’ carvings at the Admiralty – a study of the nautical instrument carvings in the Old Admiralty Boardroom, London (adapted from a chapter in The Great Ship Ashore, listed below);
“Thrast up agaynst the rayls” : the Death of Edward Howard at Conquet, 1513 – an account of the naval action in which a Tudor Lord Admiral of England was killed
“That Plain, Rough, English Admiral…” Sir Cloudesley Shovell 1650-1707 – a brief life of one of the most remarkable naval commanders of the age of sail;
Nelson’s Nemesis : the gallant Captain Lucas – a life of the remarkable commander of the French line-of-battle ship Redoutable at Trafalgar;
Black Dick Howe and the Glorious First of June – a brief life of one of Britain’s greatest naval officers with an account of his greatest victory in 1794, one of the few mid-ocean battles in the age of sail;
Duel to the Death: Captain William Hoste in the Bay of Roses 1808 – an account of a little-known, excitng action off the coast of Catalonia featuring one of Nelson’s most talented protégés
“The Fortune of the Sea” : Marine Art as evidence for the Naval History of the Age of Sail – a detailed examination of the potential of marine art as source material for naval historians;
and studies of the work of Velazquez, Goya, Picasso and Holbein.
Forthcoming are these longer volumes:
The Great Ship Ashore – a social history of the Admiralty buildings in London (from December 2012);
“For the Armynge and Defence of the Shippe” – a detailed study of the English longbow as a naval weapon system (from January 2013).
Why “Toothed Dolphin”?
The Rough-toothed Dolphin (Steno bradenensis) is a medium-sized marine mammal, one of the 33 species of dolphin. Its usual habitat is tropical to subtropical, generally in the deep oceanic waters between 40°N and 35°S. Occasionally rough-toothed dolphins are found in coastal waters off the coast of Brazil and West Africa and they are also found in semi-enclosed bodies of water such as the Gulf of Thailand, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and occasionally in the Mediterranean.
Although first scientifically described only in the middle of the 19th century, and usually found only in deep water far from land, the Toothed Dolphin has been well documented by seafarers for many centuries and was a familiar image in antiquity.
The Toothed Dolphin and Naval History
The Toothed Dolphin – usually portrayed as a fish-like creature with a wide beak studded with sharp teeth – is an emblem of Admiralty, the executive power of a state’s maritime interests. It is often combined with an Anchor, either clean or fouled (entwined with a rope) which is an ancient symbol of naval power. There are also other iconographic attributes to these elements; for example, the anchor is a symbol of spiritual hope in the Christian era, and the dolphin, especially combined with a boy riding on its back, is a symbol of purity going back to antiquity.
In the Royal Navy and the Admiralty of Great Britain , the Toothed Dolphin is an image found on many of its buildings and, in the former Old Admiralty Office and Admiralty House in London, on furnishings and internal architectural decoration.
The Toothed Dolphin and Publishing
The Aldine Press created by Aldus Manutius in Venice in 1495, included the Toothed Dolphin in its colophon, the Anchor and Dolphin design, perhaps the most famous of all printer’s marks. This device first appeared in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, published in December 1499, and Aldus first used the device as his printer’s mark in the second volume of Poetae Christiani Veteres, published in January 1501.
The Anchor and Dolphin image is an impresa, a pictorial puzzle popular in Renaissance Italy. It illustrates a motto, “Festina lente” (“make haste slowly”), an aphorism of the Roman Emperor Augustus which Aldus would have known from Suetonius’ biography of the emperor or from the Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius. In classical (pre-Christian) iconography the anchor is symbolic of dependability, and the dolphin symbolises speed, each apt in representing the printer’s painstaking, careful work under tight deadlines. Erasmus, a friend of Aldus, said that the anchor represents the period of deliberation before a work is begun, and the dolphin shows the speed of its completion.
In the tradition of Augustus, Aldus and Erasmus, Toothed Dolphin Press, hosted on the British Naval History community website, brings carefully crafted writing to a wide audience using the speed of online communications.