Yard model 1670. This magnificent antique is built in an approximate scale of 1:48 using cedar wood. It is displayed in our Treasure Chamber, that you will find on deck 8 of the museum.
Behold the oldest model of the collection Peter Tamm!
While other objects in our collection are older – we are thinking about some tomes in our library dating from the 16th Century, for example – models tend to be more recent. Ship models have been used since antique times for religious services. Those are called votive ships, but we have none too old at the museum. Our collection of POWs Bone Ship Models are the best possible examples of ship models serving as decorative objects, but those are „only“ from the early 19th Century. The oldest model served a purpose that was revolutionary when it was built.
The elder among our models come from the second half of the 17th century. It has been dated around 1670. It represents a French double-decker armed with 46 guns. The construction is what we know as a yard model or a builder’s model. Making these ships is a tradition that became very usual from the mid-17th century and is still alive nowadays. Shipyards would build these models to show to their customers before the work on the actual ship started. The models served as a kind of advertising as well as offering the possibility to discuss changes that the customer may wish for. It was usual to make these models without the masts and rigging because those were usually produced in standard forms. That building form for models is known as an admiralty model. Sadly, no documentation on this model has survived the centuries and we can’t know its exact origin.
Nowadays shipyards and shipping companies still order yard models of their new ships. They no longer serve to discuss details of the construction, but they are displayed in the offices as to show customers what kind of ships the company owns or the yard builds. Most of the models from our merchant navy collection are original yard models.