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What Everyone Should Know About Model Ships

By Yolene Jacques

What Are They And Where Did It All Begin?

Ship modeling goes back to ancient times and is as old as shipbuilding. Ship models are scale representations of various types of ships or seafaring vessels. They can range in size from scale miniatures to live size vessels. Actual blueprints for the original vessel are often used and brought to scale instead of using plans made specifically for models. Traditionally, a ship model is built from wood, this type of model has been built for over two thousand years; plastic and sheet metal models were introduced more recently.

The first carved wood detailed ship models known to have remained to date were made by The Ancient Egyptians, as it was part of their funeral ritual to include very detailed, painted wood models of ship and crew. This was meant to carry the soul of the departed to the other world or “afterlife”.

Much has been learned about ancient seafaring from these models. Many of these ritual boats are displayed in museums worldwide such as the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and others. Some of the oldest ships from the 12th to the 15th centuries are found mounted in some churches, where they were used to bless the ships at sea and the people in them.

Several of the earlier ship models were built by crewmembers as a passtime and represented the ships they were sailing. Similarly, Seamen who were long term confined prisoners during the wars between France and England alleviated their boredom by building ship models from bone and wood scraps. This passtime evolved into an art form and the models were sold to the public, which in turn embraced the idea and provided the prisoners with ivory to make the models more attractive.

What Are They Used For?

As shipbuilding developed, it was common for ship builders to produce a miniature model of the actual ship under construction. It was a practical way to show how the full size ship would appear. This was done for racing yachts, steamboats and others.

Ship modeling has a very long and rich history and continues to serve numerous functions. Large finely built models are displayed in museums to represent historical ships, miniature and less detailed models are used for wargaming to recreate historical battles or to plan strategies, more precised models are used in the engineering field for testing new designs; different types of models are built to suit various functions.

Many of the higher quality models capture the intricate details of the originals, making them very appealing for decoration; from the fine ornements on historical ships such as the HMS Victory, or Sovereign of the Seas, to little pirates on the deck of a pirate ship, and right down to the leather seats, glass windshield, chrome, brass and bronze fittings to reflect the opulance in the famous sporty luxury classic boats such as the Riva and Chris Craft models.

Many of the luxurious hotels, resorts, galleries and office buildings use model ships in their interior design. Individuals use them in their home or office; with such a rich history, a quality wooden model ship adds elegance, interest and distinction to a well thought out decor.

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