Cowper Phipps Coles
click on the small image to see a larger version
English naval captain and inventor, the first to patent a design for a revolving gun turret.
Coles joined the Royal Navy at the age of 11 and by February 1856 had reached the rank of Captain.
He was placed on half pay when the Crimean War ended and spent his time creating designs for turret ships. Up to this time the principal armament of warships had been batteries of guns firing from fixed ports in the sides of the ship. On 10 March 1859 Coles filed a revolutionary patent for a revolving turret.
Although the Admiralty recognised the value of the innovation, Coles found them resistant to his ship designs. He submitted his plans to anyone who might be interested and succeeded in enlisting a number of supporters, including Prince Albert, who wrote to the first Lord of the Admiralty, the Duke of Somerset, supporting the construction of a turret ship. In January 1862, the Admiralty agreed to construct a ship, the HMS Prince Albert, which had four turrets and a low freeboard, intended only for coastal defence. Coles was allowed to design the turrets, but the ship was the responsibility of the chief Constructor Isaac Watts.
Coles died when HMS Captain, built to his design, was caught in a severe gale and capsized on the night of September 7th, 1870.
This is a fine signature, cut from the bottom of a letter on a piece measuring 3.75" x 1.5". In good condition.