Model Boats and Ships For the past 200 years model-makers have produced replicas of 17th and 18th century navy vessels. And, in more recent years, they have turned their hand to cabin cruisers and ocean liners. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals


Click Here

Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals MagazineCollectibles > Model Boats and Ships

See Lionel Trains in our Shop

Our Article on Hornby Trains

Ship Titanic
Ship Titanic
Buy This Art Print At



Model Boats and Ships


 Beautifully made by talented craftsmen, model boats have long been admired and played with by enthusiasts of all ages

 For the past 200 years model-makers have produced replicas of 17th and 18th century navy vessels. And, in more recent years, they have turned their hand to cabin cruisers and ocean liners.

 Before World War 2, keen collectors could pick up rare finds among old shipwright's models for next to nothing. Discarded working half-models of now extinct vessels were often left to decay unnoticed in boatyards' cellars or were simply used for firewood. Originally designed to show owners how their new boat was progressing in the yard, the earliest of these models dates from the late 16th century when Phineas Pett was building men-o'-war for the British Navy.


 The once-famous 19th century Blackwall frigates, and the glamorous clippers which traded in the Far East and Australia were sometimes recorded only in model form. The same is true of the many different kinds of regional vessel which plied British coasts. Few of these survived beyond the early years of the century, and shipping offices were happy to get rid of out-of-date replicas that had once depicted the pride of their fleets. Little valued then, these models now command prices that reflect the skill that went into making them.

 Model kits did not come into their own until the 1950s, though there were some around in the 1930s. Between the wars, there were a number of books to help model shipbuilders get started. Most dealt with British warships in the 1600s and 1700s.

 In The Built-Up Ship Model (Publication ... of the Marine Research Society, No. 25.), published in 1933 and still in print, Charles G Davis gave readers a sense of living history by referring to 18th century ship builders' manuals. And to give new model-makers confidence he advised starting with a 'relatively simple' replica of the Lexington, a single-deck American brig-o'-war fitted out in Philadelphia in 1775.


 Most of the large auction houses hold several sales of 'nautica' every year. Examples of many kinds of display model and toy ship can usually be found there. Among them may be exquisite large working replicas of herring drifters and cabin cruisers, powered by a steam engine, or by an electric or petrol motor. Many of these models were produced in the 1920s. Most of the galleons and men-o'-war now seen in sale rooms have been made by amateurs and professionals in the 20th century and they vary widely in price.


 Specialist dealers generally cover the range of model ships from full and half-models of frigates and ocean liners, to fishing boats and even yachts complete with rope bindings, anchors, bollards and deck rails. One model yacht sold recently at auction included the original line drawings plus certificates entitling the owner to manufacture the full-size yacht.

 Many of the 17th and 18th century models were heavily restored at the start of the 20th century and these should be avoided because they are often full of stylistic anachronisms. This is especially true of American replicas, but clumsy repairs were often made on British ones as well.

 The original Navy Board models were masterpieces of technology involving a team of expert carvers, artists and specialists in miniature metalwork, as well as the actual shipwrights themselves. my hinges and filigree work may have been carried out by watchmakers and jewellers. It is virtually impossible to re-create their skill today and no one but an expert should attempt repairs of any detailed model.

 Professional restorers can be contacted through maritime museums and model magazines. They will have the tools, the materials and the skill to effect an invisible repair.


 The liner models usually had solid wooden hulls of yellow pine, but their fittings included minute pieces of brass and copper fashioned into semaphore signals, winches and ladders. Many of them were kept in direct sunlight that has faded and even totally destroyed the paint. Casually discarded when they were out of date, they often lost their glass cases and these should be replaced to keep them dust free and also to protect them from damage.

Anonymous - Ship Merchant Sailing Ships
Ship Merchant Sailing Ships
Buy This Art Print At

Ship Modeling Simplified, by master model builder Frank Mastini

The Built-Up Ship Model (Publication ... of the Marine Research Society, No. 25.)
by Charles G. Davis, Langdon Davis

Ship Models: How to Build Them by Charles G. Davis, Langdon Davis

The Ship Model Builder's Assistant
by Charles G. Davis

Ship Modeling from Stem to Stern by Milton Roth

Historic Ship Models by Wolfram Mondfelt

Boat Modeling With Dynamite Payson: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Models of Small Craft -- by Harold "Dynamite" Payson, Harold H. Payson; Paperback

Model Boat Building: The Lobster Boat (A Schiffer Book for the Hobbyist)
by Steve Rogers, et al

The Dory Model Book
by Harold Payson