Model Ships: Sailing Through the Ages

Perhaps you were one of those kids like me, who spent long hours painstakingly assembling and painting precast models of ships, cars or planes using stubborn paints and lethal glue. Building models is a craft that has occupied and fascinated people for centuries. In fact, ship modeling dates back to the ancient civilizations of the Greeks, Egyptians and Phoenicians, who commonly used them as burial votives, household articles, works of art and toys.

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance European ship models of galleys, galleons and carracks showed prospective customers how the full size ship would appear, or persuaded royalty to fund visionaries, like Christopher Columbus, in voyages of discovery and trade. Model ships were also mounted in churches as icons for successful voyages.

During the Dutch Golden Age paintings of the 17th century, a period of intense mariner activity in the Netherlands, ship models were made and used by artists who depicted ships in their commissioned works.

In the early 1800s, French and English seamen who were taken prisoner during the Napoleonic Wars and might be confined for many years, found some relief from monotony by building ship models from hair, rags, scraps of wood and bone. These models became very popularity on the retail market.

By the early 20th century ship models had become quite sophisticated, with wooden hulls and cast lead for anchors, deadeyes, and rigging blocks. By mid century precast metal and plastic models, and radio controlled craft were popular.

Today, many of the major shipbuilders continue to use meticulously accurate and detailed models of the newest concept yachts and ships to entice prospective owners or investors. Some of the most remarkable scale models of cruise ships and megayachts are displayed at industry shows. Both general interest museums and specialized maritime museums worldwide have stunning displays of model ships.

In the United States, the newest exhibit at Connecticut’s renowned Mystic Seaport Museum. From Model to Masterpiece: The Work of Thomas Hoyne and Erik Ronnberg, brings together the maritime paintings of Thomas Hoyne and the ship models created for those paintings by Erik Ronnberg, offering visitors a rare opportunity to see the paintings and models displayed together in the same gallery.

If you want your own exacting yacht replica without the work, a company in Belfast, United Kingdom, produces replicas of museum quality. The company, Model Your Boat, builds amazing models that include scale versions of the TITANIC, launched from Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, the 269 foot Oceanco ALPHA NERO, which riveted public attention at her launch in 2007, and ALINGHI SUI 64, Americas Cup 2003.

For the real experience, ALPHA NERO, and other world renowned racing and superyachts are available for exclusive charters. offers extensive information on charter yachts worldwide at: Super and Mega Luxury Yacht Charter

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