Mathilde Pajeken – Small Sketch Book 4

kleines Skizzenbuch 22

Another pencil sketch from Mathilde Pajeken’s small (8.2 by 11.8 cm) travel sketch book. This little book contains sketches – probably from a single trip – mostly of maritime motives. A few places on the trip can be identified as either on the Weser river (somewhere between the city of Bremen and the North Sea) and the island of Helgoland. This sketch is dated “d. 9. Sept” (Sept. 9th), but unfortunately, no year is given. The sketches in this book where probably made around the year 1900.


Mathilde Pajeken – Small Sketch Book 2

kleines Skizzenbuch 20a

Most of the sketches in Mathilde Pajeken’s small sketch book show either boats or coastal landscapes. Most of the boats are sailing boats of the types used during the 19th century for fishing or to transport goods in the coastal areas or northern Germany. There are cutters (“Kutter” in German) and a type of barge with what is called a ketch rigging in English, a type of boat called “Ewer” in German. I am not an expert on these boat types, but as far as I know, the two vessels shown on this sketch are of a type called “Besan-Ewer” in German. These ships typically have two masts, often with gaff rig (as can be seen in the left boat). The second, mast (the mizzen mast, called “Besanmast” in German) is shorter. The left boat has a leeboard (called “Seitenschwert” in German) that can be lowered into the water, and a jigger or jibheaded topsail (“Gaffeltoppsegel” in German), the small extra sail above the gaff.

I hope I am getting these things right. Boat types and especially rigging types are a complex topic, a science in its own right. A complex technology with a rich and elaborate technical language had been developed here, and after the introduction of steam engines and motors, a lot of that was mostly forgotten. I am missing here the expertise of Mathilde Pajeken’s father, my great-great-grandfather, the ship captain Eduard Pajeken, who commanded large sailing ships and who published a textbook of English for sailors, explaining nautical technical terms. It is likely that Mathilde Pajeken had quite some expert knowledge about these topics as well because of her father.

I have not yet managed to read all of the notes that are written on some of the sketches. The last word here seems to be “gelb” (meaning “yellow”) so maybe Mathilde Pajeken noted down some information about the colors since she only had a pencil. A tentative reading of that is written there is “L. hell bl., Segel hell gelb”, meaning “l(eft) light blue, sail light yellow”. However, I am not entirely sure about the reading.

Given the small size of these sketches (8.2 by 11.8 cm) I am astonished at their detail and accuracy. And I like them a lot, maybe because I have grown up in the city of Hamburg, in walking distance of the museum harbour of Övelgönne, where a number of old ships of this kind can still be seen, among them a gaff rigged “Besan-Ewer“.

Mathilde Pajeken lived from 1842 to 1913. These sketches are undated but where probably made around the year 1900. Note that the name is pronounced “paɪkɛn”, the “e” after the “j” is not pronounced, it probably entered the name because of a clerk’s mistake. There are other branches of the same family spelling the name as “Payken”. Originally, the name was probably “Boyken” or “Boyeken”, a Frisian name probably meaning “little boy”.