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Valéry (Shipping company, France)

Last modified: 2018-10-28 by ivan sache
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House flag of Valéry, two versions - Images by Ivan Sache, 18 February 2004

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Presentation of Valéry

The company Joseph et Frères Valéry, founded in 1835 by the three brothers Jean-Mathieu, Joseph and Jean Valéry, operated four sailing ships. In November 1840, the company established a line between Bastia (Corsica) and Leghorn (Italy), served by a steamship. In 1843, a similar line was opened between Bastia and Marseilles and Toulon. SS Bonaparte, built in 1845 in La Ciotat for Valéry, was the first ship with an iron screw in Marseilles.
In 1851, the company was granted the postal service of Corsica, operated since 1845 by a state ship. Due to its development, the company bought several ships in Nantes, La Ciotat and Greenock (Scotland).
Joseph, son of Jean-Mathieu, joined in 1854 the company, which was renamed Valéry Frères et Fils. On 23 February 1860, MS Louise missed the entrance of the port of Bastia and sunk on rocks, causing the death of 58, including 28 Italian artists invited to give a show in Bastia. In May 1870, Valéry was granted the postal service with Northern Africa, after the Messageries Maritimes had refused to extend their contract. The company also had scheduled lines with Algiers, Oran, Bone (Annaba) and Tunis. To face the competition with Fraissinet for the African lines, Valéry improved its service and attempted to extend it to Morocco, the Middle-East, Madagascar and New Caledonia.
Valéry lost in 1880 the Algerian postal contract, which was granted to the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. After unsuccessful attempts to serve Reunion and Mauritius, Valéry sold in December 1880 most of its fleet to the Transat, including the eight liners bought in 1872 for the African lines.
In March 1883, F. Morelli, a former employee of Valéry, reorganized the remains of the fleet as the Compagnie Insulaire de Navigation. The new company operated 11 ships formerly owned by Valéry, two second-hand ships and two new ones, serving Italy and Spain and, for a while, the postal contract with Corsica. In 1885, an attempt to open a line to Haiti failed. The company was sold off in 1891.
[Paul Bois. Armements marseillais - Compagnies de navigation et navires à vapeur (1831-1988), published by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Marseille-Provence [boi03]].

Ivan Sache, 15 February 2004

The 1870 contract caused a problem in Britain. Valéry chartered the steamer Princess Royal, from Messers Langlands & Son of Glasgow, to operate the service. She was given a French captain and crew, but had an English certificated master and engineer on board to look after the owner's interests. The French Government insisted that she operated the mail service under the French flag, and gave her a special licence to do so. However the British consul in Marseilles would not allow the vessel, British owned and registered, to sail flying French colours.
The owners appealed to the Board of Trade for dispensation to fly the French flag. The Board of Trade asked the Admiralty to issue a warrant allowing this. The Admiralty replied that they had no objection to a British ship flying the national colours of another country, but had no power to issue a warrant permitting it. On 19 July 1871 the Foreign Office sent a despatch instructing the consul not to prevent the vessel from sailing.
On consideration the Board of Trade decided that under British municipal law a British ship flying French colours was subject to the same liabilities and entitled to the same privileges as a British vessel flying British colours, but that under international law it was not.
"It is simply impossible that a vessel, British according to British law, voluntarily assuming, in the eyes of all maritime nations, the character of a French ship, can lay claim to all the immunities of a British ship sailing under British colours. Supposing for instance, that a vessel belonging to a nation at war with France were to fire a signal to bring her to, and, sailing on, were to fire into her, is it reasonable to suppose that the British government could demand any apology or reparation? I think, speaking generally, that as regards international law, the Princess Royal cannot in all respects claim the protection and assistance of a British consul in the same way as British vessels carrying the British flag."
In September Valéry chartered the steamer Malvina, from the London & Edinburgh Shipping Company, Leith, for the same purpose. The owners wrote to the Admiralty request permission to operate the ship under French colours, but were told that the Admiralty had no power to authorise the wearing of any other national colour than those sanctioned and required by Act of Parliament.
[National Archives (PRO) Box MT 9/59, file 5722]

David Prothero, 18 February 2004

House flags of Valéry

P. Bois [boi03] shows two house flags of Valéry, both white with a thin red stripe in top and bottom of the flag. The flags differ by the black writing on the white stripe, either "VEF" or "Cie VALERY & Fils".

Ivan Sache, 15 February 2004

Compagnie Insulaire Morelli


House flag of Morelli - Image by Ivan Sache, 5 August 2018

François Morelli (1833-1892) was born from a farmer's family in Bocognano, a mountain village located half distance of Ajaccio and Corte. Employed in different Corsican trading companies, Morelli was appointed in 1869 Special Commissioner of the Railways in Nice. After the fall of the Second Empire, Morelli became director of food and catering of the shipping company established in 1849 by Count Joseph Valéry. Based in Marseilles, the company operated 25 ships on scheduled lines serving Corsica, Spain, Italy and Algeria. General Councillor of Brando for the Bonapartist Party (1871-1879), Valéry died on 26 March 1879, aged 53, leaving a company deemed "poorly managed" by the local press.

Elected General Councillor of Bocognano in 1874 with the support of Bonapartists, Morelli succeeded in 1879 Valéry as the president of the shipping company, acquiring its assets on 9 March 1883. The company then operated 11 ships. Granted the contract for postal service to Corsica, Sardinia and Leghorn, Morelli ordered another two ships, the Bocognano and the Ville de Bastia. The fleet served nine ports: Marseilles and Nice (mainland France), Bastia, Ajaccio, Calvi, Île-Rousse, Propriano and Bonifacio (Corsica), and Leghorn (Italy).
At the same time, Morelli rallied the Republican party led by Emmanuel Arène (1856-1908), Representative of Corsica at the Parliament (1881-1904), Senator from 1904 to his death, and President of the General Council of Corsica (1888-1893, 1896, 1900-1908). Morelli, a main fund raiser of the party, was soon accused by his opponents, for example Ernest Judet (La question corse, 1885) to use his company as an electioneering tool, providing jobs for Arène's electors and hardly caring of the postal service.
[Jean-Paul Pellegrinetti. 2015. Notables et réseaux politiques en Corse, XIXe-XXe siècle. L'exemple d'Emmanuel Arène (1856-1908). Histoire@Politique 25, 24-40]

Morelli indeed lost the postal contract to Fraissinet, which launched a modern ship connecting Marseilles to Bastia in 15 hours. In 1885, the company was granted another postal contract by the government of Haiti. Due to registration problems amplified by the slowness of the communications between Paris and Port-au-Prince, the Haitian government contracted another company. After a few months, the four Morelli ships sailed back to Le Havre without any profit. Seized, the ships were sold by auction, yielding 80,OOO francs while they had been purchased for 12 times more.
Elected Senator of Corsica on 13 January 1889, Morelli welcomed the next year Sadi Carnot, President of the Republic, during his official visit to Corsica. Like Valéry two decades earlier, Morelli was not able to manage his company. In 1891, the Court of Commerce of Marseilles declared him personally bankrupted. The last ships owned by the company were sold in Marseilles on 4 May 1892. Morelli died 25 days later. According to his obituary published by the Journal de la Corse, the Court of Cassation was about to cancel the sentence of the Court of Commerce and Morelli was about to establish a new company, La Corse. Morelli was buried in Marseilles with the military honors, in the presence of Emmanuel Arène, who stated that "targeted by an unsustainable competition, the insular company was the second and last regional [Corsican] shipping company".
[Corse Matin, 2005]

Album des pavillons nationaux et des marques distinctives des marines de guerre et de commerce (1889) [f9r89] shows the house flag of Compagnie Insulaire Morelli as white with a red stripe on top and bottom and the black letters "C.I.M." in the center. This was, beyond reasonable doubt, derived from the Valéry house flag.

Ivan Sache, 5 August 2018