Tall Ship Models From Unexpected Places

Dating back to the very reaches of time, building tall ship models seems as old as the ocean itself. The early waters of Mesopotamia is where the art of shipbuilding calls its birthplace. As shipbuilding advanced in technology, shipbuilders commonly created small model ships they would later use as building plans. Clients of the shipbuilder could use these tall ship models to see their desired product and make suggestions and changes where necessary. Lacking advanced mathematics, model ships helped shipbuilders with determining accurate dimensions for the finished ship. Evidence of model ships were found in the earliest tombs of ancient Egypt. Crafting model ships was a spiritual belief – ancient Egyptians believed the dead crossed over via boat. Ancient Egyptian pharaohs had entire ships buried with them, however, and the higher your rank, the bigger and more detailed the tall ship models were. Model ships of the Bronze Age were found made of crude clay. Bronze Age ships were most likely canoes made out of carefully sculpted logs. While the Romans had little to no tall ship models made, adventurous Greek artists left wood and clay model ships behind. Greek model ships were mostly modeled after warships of the same era. Model ship building served burial, decorative, and entertainment purposes in these times.As an art and pastime, making tall ship models bloomed in the early 1600’s.

Sea travel became extremely popular, and this era was marked by a drastic increase in European countries sending out ships to explore. To pass time, sailors and prisoners alike would carve model ships out of wood or bone. Most models were sold for food or money, but churches were prone to commissioning models to bless in rituals. Churches would hang these models from the rafters as testament to the ship’s endurance, and take them down when the ship was lost at sea. Painters and artists bought model ships to use in their artwork, as evidenced by Dutch Golden Era paintings. The accuracy of these model ships used for painting when compared to the real ship were required to be flawless. Accuracy of larger models was generally flawless, as teams of craftsman worked on them. Due to Britain’s growing naval prowess in the 18th century, model ships enjoyed a boom in popularity. British and Dutch trading companies ruled the waterways. Model ship making was spread through these trading expeditions, which brought boats to ports as far as India and China. Britain controlled most of the world’s waters, and captured prisoners were prone to creating boats out of bits of wood. When British ships with prisoners pulled into port, it was not uncommon for patrons to supply them with a bit of ivory or ebony to carve. With this interest, wooden model ships building was recreated as an art form. England boasted the greatest population of model ship builders.London was the site of the first formation of a model ship building club.In modern times, ship building kits became popular during the second World War, with kits widely bought and distributed. In the modern day, all sizes of models are created for leisure and sale. Drawing enthusiasts from every corner of the globe, the hobby has since become international.