For those who like ships, ship models always bring a gleam to one’s eye. They are the physical manifestations- in miniature of those vessels that we think about. The lines, detail, colour, shadows, and angles can be intoxicating. These fantastic objects often inspire the imagination, and can keep one’s attention for hours. There is an incredible history to ship models and shio-modelling, for example looking at the Navy Board Ship Models from the 17th century shipwrights such as the Pett family that were used instead of plans to show how new ships were to be built, or the models built by French prisoners-of-war during the Napoleonic Wars. For those who enjoy looking at ship models, the desire to build them oneself is often not far behind. We have some fantastic books on ship-modelling, for all kinds of models and experience levels.
First we have a number of lovely books from Archéologie Navale Française. Written by Jean Boudriot, these are simply gorgeous, well illustrated books that provide historical context for vessels, as well as details and plans for building of models. Examples include the four volumes of The Seventy-Four Gun Ship. Others in the series include The Bomb Ketch Salamandre, Chebec Le Requin, History of the French Frigate 1650-1850, and John Paul Jones and the Bonhomme Richard. These books have been carefully translated into English, and cover an excellent range of different types of vessels, from ships of the line to the smaller auxiliaries. Focusing specifically on French naval architecture, they display what contemporaries considered to be elegant, beautiful and superbly designed ships. Bernard Frölich’s The Art of Shipmodelling, is also a must for any shipmodeller of the age of sail.
For those who are interested in British warships in particular, the Anatomy of the Ship series is highly regarded and an excellent guide to building both warships of the age of sail, as well as modern warships. Created by a series of authors including the authoritative Brian Lavery, titles include The 74-Gun Ship Bellona, The 100-Gun Ship Victory, and for fans of American warship design, The 44-Gun Frigate USS Constitution. There are also several volumes dedicated to warships of the Second World War, including The Destroyer Campbeltown and The Flower Class Corvette Agassiz. These books are excellent for modellers, and have many-high quality images to guide step-by-step construction of the ship models. For those who are shopping on a more limited budget, these are excellent alternatives to the series mentioned above.
For those who looking to learn about ship modelling as an art, and not necessarily the reproduction of a specific vessel, we have a number of books on various aspects. A classic is Harold A. Underhill’s Masting and Rigging. This is a complete guide to the square rig, containing 50 full-page working drawings and 200 detail sketches, fully covering spar construction and rig of 19th- and 20th-century sailing ships, iron and wood. Chapters on standing and running rigging, sails, unusual rigs, and tables of spar proportions and rigging sizes for various craft. From the same author we also have Volume I, and Volume II of Plank-on-Frame Models and Scale Masting and Rigging. These books take you from reading and interpreting plans to mounting a finished model on its base.
Ship models are also wonderful works of art. Spanning some 350 years, the Thomson Collection of historic ship models contains examples of exquisite workmanship and some of the masterpieces of the genre. Pride of the collection are the rare British dockyard models made to scale for affluent 18th-century clients closely associated with the Royal Navy. A large number of models–made from wood and bone, with rigging of human hair–were made by some of the 120,000 French and other prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars. The diverse collection also includes tugs, dredgers, trawlers, cargo vessels, passenger steamers, private yachts, corvettes, battleships, cruisers, torpedo boat destroyers and two aircraft carriers. Ship Models was published by the Art Gallery of Ontario to celebrate the fantastic Thompson Collection, and has stunning photographs of the models in the collection.