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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Gobs: 1896

Gobs: 1896

Aboard the U.S.S. New York circa 1896. "Group of sailors." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative by Edward Hart, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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Ships ahoy!

The mustachioed man is dashing!

Uniforms: My personal observance

Be aware that the naval uniform has gone through changes from day one and sometimes it is gradual. When in the navy in the early 1960's I was issued a hat much the same as the sailor in the black uniform. After a year aboard ship and not seeing new recruits arrive with the same I finally discarded it.

While we did have what was called the 'Uniform of the Day' posted, even then it was not enforced while at sea. At least once a month we did have a uniform inspection and that is when we all looked identical with shoes shined and looking preppy as possible. The one order enforced was that the knot on the tie was always to be be two fingers below the V in the jumper. None of us had a problem with that but it seems some did in this photo. As for hats, only those just out of boot camp wore their hats without some sort of a curl on the side. When new recruits first arrived aboard ship, the more hip types were the first to do put a curl in their hat or throw it back on the head to look saltier in order to be accepted by the real salts.

When ashore on liberty we did encounter some Marine shore patrol on duty that would yell,'square that hat sailor' and so we did until they were out of view.

I could go one but one thing that should be recognized is that it very difficult for a young guy not be able to show some sort of individuality.

Yes Sir or No Sir, we have always and still do crave to be just us I think.

Hey you!

Yes, you with the black uniform, what navy are you in?

Seaman's stripes

The stripe, indicating the rate of seaman (E-3 in today's parlance), was worn on the right to signify "classic" ratings (Bo'sun Mates, Gunners Mates etc.) and on the left for newer ratings like Yeoman and Radioman. This practice carried forward to the modern navy but was dropped after WWII.

Uniform Uniformity

It's amazing how lax uniform standards were compared to when I was in the Navy in the 1970s & '80s. Granted, laundry facilities were not as advanced back then, but the way their neckerchiefs and hats are worn is strictly against regs by today's standards.

Hey, Baby

Get in your time machine and come see me. I'll be waiting.

(the guy down front)

"Bowery Boys"

Fifty years too early for the famous guys that made up that group, but I swear several of these fellows look like they could have walked on the set right after their service.

On the Town!

Probably a bit less music, but with just 24 hours, little time to waste. Great photo.


As often happens with Shorpy, a photo and caption set me to looking things up. "Gob," for a sailor, seems to have originated after 1900, which makes these guys either pre-gobs or proto-gobs. Also, "gobsmacked" seems not to involve a sailor, but rather the clapping of one's hand (smack) over one's mouth (gob) in astonishment.

Regardless, these guys look quite able -- and ready -- to gobsmack somebody.

Trapped in Time

Between "Billy Budd" and "Mister Roberts."


Contemporary advertising has nothing over this vintage composition. These guys are styling. How many ways can a sailor wear his hat? Many.

And I can't even pick a favorite. From the guy with the mustache to the peeper in the back to the casual guy stretched out in front - I love them all.

At First Glance

I though it was a still from "The Sand Pebbles"

Shoddily shod

These guys sure could use some new boots.

Stripeless striplings

Some of them have a stripe on their left shoulder, others on their right. And some have no stripe at all. I don't think a single one of these guys is close to 30 years old. Some of them look like teenagers to me.


I'll bet the Old Timers aboard yearned for the bygone days of "Wooden Ships and Iron Men."

All together, lads

In the Navy
Yes, you can sail the seven seas
In the Navy
Yes, you can put your mind at ease
In the Navy ...

Square away those caps!!

This Chief Petty Officer wouldn't let those sailors get away with that!

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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