Ship Model Terms
Cutaway: A model which has a portion of its hull exposed, allowing the viewer to see the vessel's interior construction, below deck arrangements, and/or accommodations.
Naval Board / Dockyard / Admiralty Model: Ship models built for the Admiralty Board's of major European countries during the period of 1650 to 1780, e.g., England, Holland, France, Spain, etc. These are thought to be the finest models ever made, and are mostly unrigged. These models tend to have exposed hull and deck framing to allow the inspection of the vessel's naval architecture in a three dimensional format, as well as having elaborate decorative carving work. The English 'Georgian' models, which entered this genre c.1740, were more complete in their presentation and included rigging, copper sheathing, painted hulls, complete armament, and extensive decorative elements.
Builders Model: Scale models that were built prior to, during, or just after the construction of the actual vessel. They are generally considered the primary depictions of the real vessel. Most often these were built by naval architects or shipwrights where the actual vessel was constructed. Early American half hulls of fishing vessels or yachts are typical of this type of model, from which lines were taken off and increased to full scale patterns for subsequent construction.
British Builders Model: Late 19th to early 20th century scale models constructed to a very high detail to scale of 1/8" (1:96) or 1/4" (1:48) to the foot were either full hull or half hull presentations. The latter style was typically mounted on mirrored backboards within a framed wood case to create the illusion of a full model. These were usually built by the shipyard joiners or professional model makers that constructed the actual vessel and were either kept by the shipyard as display pieces to document their yard's work or were alternatively obtained by the ship owner to display in their steamship company office. As many of these models depicted ordinary steam ships such as freighters and coasting vessels they were most often presented in a stylized fashion using high gloss paint and the fittings were of gold or nickel-silver plate.
Prisoner-of-War: A ship model built during the Napoleonic War era (1793-1815) by sailors (mostly French) imprisoned by the British. Most were relatively small pieces (10" to 24") and were made of left-over cattle or mutton bone planked-over carved wooden hulls or of boxwood, and normally depicted naval vessels of the era. It is speculated, that because of the various individual artist guilds of this period, these models were worked on by several different prisoners who were talented artisans, e.g., wood-worker, ivory carver, jeweler or metal smith, textile person, etc., each providing their touch of expertise. Such objects were very rarely signed or contained any artist's markings. The vessel's architecture was overwhelmingly French, yet because these were offered for sale or bartered to the local British citizenry, they tended to employ the names of British ships of war.
Pond Model: Models that are made to be sailed in ponds, rivers, estuaries or harbors. This style of model is centuries old, but during the mid 19th century it had a revival and models were being made to represent great vessels of the day, e.g., brig, clippers, schooners, etc. These models required added ballast to safely weigh down and stabilize the model when under sail. This ballast was added within the hull or via weighted keels. Sailing yacht models later became popular and Class designs were established for formal racing. Vessels that required power to turn a screw propeller were replicated and made operational through miniaturized steam boilers and reciprocating engines. Today all sorts of vessels have been replicated, from steam tugs and naval ships, to ultra sleek speed boats with sophisticated radio controlled electronics allowing great maneuverability and realism.
Diorama: Waterline display format, which usually encompasses a scene with the incorporation of other vessels or craft, segments of land, buildings, and the inclusion of work-action figures. These pieces typically portray a particular time and place in either a realistic or fictional setting. This artistic approach has great appeal as it tells a story and the use of figures provides a sense of scale.
Shadow-box: A model or models normally presented at waterline and positioned in an enclosed framed box with a simulated sea and painted background sky or scene. These models can be made in full or half sections and cleverly convey a sense of three-dimensional perspective.