John Rackman was born in Bristol, England, in 1682, and died in Santiago de la Vega, Jamaica, in 1720. He was better known as ‘Calico Jack’, as the clothes he wore were made from calico, a rough material made in India in the 18th century. He invented the ‘Jolly Roger’, the pirate flag consisting of a white skull over two white crossed swords on a black background. He is also well known as he had two famous women pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, in his crew. John began his career as quartermaster on the English warship Neptune, captained by Charles Vane. When Captain Vane refused to attack a French ship the crew mutinied and named Calico Jack as their head. Jack attacked the French ship and came into possession of a rich booty. After having asked for the King’s pardon, he went to New Providence where he fell in love with Anne Bonny, a female adventurer of Irish origin, already married to a pirate. When she was accused of adultery, the two fled and took up piracy seriously. After having sacked the Bahamas several times, Rackman managed to escape an armada organised by the governor. He was, however, captured by a Spanish ship, but again managed to escape and seek refuge in Jamaica. Here he was captured by Captain Barnet, a pirate hunter appointed by the Governor of Jamaica. Calico Jack’s adventures ended here, with his hanging, along with all his crew in November 1720 at Santiago de le Vega. Anne Bonny was not sentenced to death as she was expecting a baby. History gives us no definite news of her since then, although it is thought that she died in her eighties as a respectable woman, in South Carolina.
Painting: As pirates had no dress code, the artist is free to use his/her imagination, except for the painting of parts in leather or metal.
Sculptor: Maurizio Bruno
Painter: Danilo Cartacci
Text and translation: Riccardo Carrabino