Considered a pinnacle artform of the ship modeling craft, bone ships made by prisoners-of-war during the Napoleonic Conflict are among the most collectible maritime artifacts to be identified. This British Frigate is a prime model of a impressive but not overly large carved bone warship. It has a sharp three-masted ship's rig, and some of the lines, such as the black rat-lines, are original while others have been restored at different periods over the centuries. The Man-O'-War shows an exceptional amount of custom carvings, especially the English Crown crossed with the dual flags on the stern board, the petite twists running the length of all the rails, the belfrey and two capstans, and the ornate scroll work of the head ornaments immediately after and above the foredeck.
Beautifully detailed and proportioned, the model is in very good condition. The primary gunwale is made of baleen, and a row of 15 cannon rests through the red-hatched gunports to port and starboard, while 11 guns ride on the top deck, for a total of 52 shown. While there are no guns on the foredeck nor out the stern, two rear gunports are open to fight against a pursuit. The three square rigged masts have traditional fighting and observation platforms. The ship is complete as it rests on an ornate base of bone, ebony and hardwoods with ivory posts.
Innovations in the construction of sailing ships in the last half of the nineteen century, using knowledge gained primarily from French and American designs, allowed these large British sailing warships to be built stronger and faster. Their girder frameworks and advanced uses of knees, braces, and other structural improvements meant bigger ships capable of greater power and speed. Suddenly the option of distant blockades of enemy ports became a naval warfare practicality, and the British did it more often than any other nation. The prisoner-artisans involved in the creation of this fine model -no doubt a team of experienced sailors and craftsmen with their individual personal experiences with carving, rigging and ship construction- would still be proud of this fine surviving nautical antique today.
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