Vallejo Gallery

Solid Silver Model of the Brazilian Dreadnought Battleship MINAS GERAES of 1910 British

Silver/Maker’s Marks Port Bow at Waterline
Plaque on base: Gerrard & Compy, Goldsmiths to the Crown, Haymarket, London
Model: 33 inches long, 12 inches high
Cased Size: 49½ inches at longest, 19 ⅝ wide, 24 1/8 high
Made in 1908 Framed

This historic and important solid silver model depicts the 1908 dreadnought battleship MINAS GERAES in outstanding detail and with an elegant presentation worthy of the model’s luxury pedigree and the ship’s importance to both her maker and her home country. From stem to stern the entire model shows the ship in exacting detail most of which requires a closer look to appreciate. From the binnacles on her deck to the ship’s wheel inside bridge, the 12 lifeboats including four that were steam powered and cranes to move them all, four gangways on davits, fine wire rigging and railings throughout, stowed torpedo netting, thick anchor chains on deck holding the ship’s three anchors to her bow and the ship’s massive armaments, bristling from her deck and hull this is a miniature view of the ship as she looked when completed in 1910. A museum quality model in every way.

At the time she was ordered by the Brazilian Navy in 1906, MINAS GERAES was set to become only the third dreadnought battleship in existence. Named for first of its kind, the Royal Navy's HMS DREADNOUGHT, these ships represented a significant leap forward in battleship design and armament, their increased speed and use of many heavy caliber guns fast making them symbols of national power and naval superiority. HMS DREADNOUGHT’s launch in 1906 reset the scales of naval power overnight, with all the major powers racing to complete ships as quickly as possible, particularly as tensions escalated during the lead up to World War I.

By the time of her launch in 1908, MINAS GERAES was widely seen as Brazil’s first step toward becoming an international power. The ship was so advanced that its completion sparked a naval arms race in South America between Brazil and rivals Argentina and Chile. When her fitting out was complete in January of 1910, Scientific American said the ship was “the last word in heavy battleship design and the… most powerfully armed battleship afloat.”

MINAS GERAES was also a major achievement for her shipbuilders Whitworth & Co., Ltd. of Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. At a length of 543 feet overall and with a displacement of 21,200 tons, the ship carried twelve 12 inch 50 caliber guns, twenty-two 4.7 inch guns and eight 3-lb guns. The ship’s hull featured Krupp steel armor plating up to 9 inches thick around the ship and was made to house 900 sailors.

To celebrate the launching of the ship, Whitworth commissioned famed luxury jeweler and silversmiths Garrard & Co. Ltd, London to create this model of the MINAS GERAES in solid silver. The model was made at the same time the ship was fitted out, and in 1910, as the ship completed final fitting out and went into service this model was also completed and then gifted by the shipbuilder to Queen Mary, who placed it in the collection of the Royal United Service Museum, London. Mary’s husband George V had only just ascended the throne that same year, and the gift’s timing perhaps spoke of a desire to remind George as a former British Naval officer of Whitworth’s potential to provide similar state of the art warships to the British Navy.

This model is listed with details of royal provenance in the Official Catalogue of the Royal United Service Museum, Whitehall, S.W. Fourth Edition, 1914, Item No. 6381.

The Ship
MINAS GERAES went on to an important and historic naval career, and was a mainstay of the Brazilian Navy for over 30 years. In November 1910, MINAS GERAES was the focal point of the Revolt of the Lash- a naval mutiny in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil resulting from the use of whips ("lashes") by white naval officers when punishing Afro-Brazilian and mulatto enlisted sailors. The mutiny started aboard MINAS GERAES then spreading to other ships in the Navy. Led by the "Black Admiral" João Cândido Felisberto, the mutineers threatened to bombard the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro if their demands were not met. As it was not possible to end the situation militarily—the only loyal troops nearby being small torpedo boats and army troops confined to land—the National Congress of Brazil gave in to their demand to abolish the use of whips, create better conditions aboard ship and grant asylum to the mutineers and the rebels disbanded.

When Brazil entered the First World War in 1917, Britain's Royal Navy declined Brazil's offer of MINAS GERAES for duty with the Grand Fleet because the ship was outdated; it had not been refitted since entering service, so range-finders and a fire-control system had not been added. In 1921, the ship would be sent to the United States for modernization. A year later, MINAS GERAES with her sister ship, SÃO PAULO helped to quash the first of the Revolução Tenentista (English: Tenente revolts), in which the garrison of Rio de Janeiro's Fort Copacabana rebelled and began bombarding the city. SÃO PAULO shelled the rebels' fort, and they surrendered shortly thereafter; MINAS GERAES did not fire its guns.

In 1924, MINAS GERAES was involved in another mutiny, but remained on the side of the government. Junior officers aboard the SÃO PAULO seized control of the ship in Rio de Janeiro's harbor on November 4, 1924. Their goal was to force the government to release prisoners who had participated in the 1922 Tenente revolts from confinement aboard the prison ship CUIBABA; the mutineers' demands were not met. SÃO PAULO'S boilers were then fired, and the ship "steamed menacingly" around MINAS GERAES in an attempt to entice it and other ships to join the rebellion. SÃO PAULO was only able to sway the crew of one old torpedo boat to its cause. Its crew, angry that MINAS GERAES would not join them, shot a six-pounder at MINAS GERAES, wounding a cook. The mutineers then sailed out of the harbor, exchanging shots with forts at the entrance along the way, and set course for Montevideo, Uruguay. The condensers failed along the way, and they reached Montevideo on 10 November making only 9 knots. The rebellious members of the crew disembarked and were granted asylum, while the remainder re-hoisted the colors of Brazil.

MINAS GERAES was modernized again at the Rio de Janeiro Naval Yard in the 1930s, and underwent further refitting from 1939 to 1943. During the Second World War, the ship was anchored in Salvador as the main defense of the port, as it was too old to play an active part in the war. The ship went out of service in March 1954.

The Shipbuilder
Founded in 1847, Whitworth was a major British manufacturing company of the early years of the 20th century. While shipbuilding was the largest division of the company, they were also makers of armaments, locomotives, automobiles and aircraft. Between 1885 and 1918 Armstrong built warships for the greatest navies of the period including the Royal Navy, Imperial Russian Navy, Imperial Japanese Navy, and the United States Navy.

The Silversmiths
Founded in 1735, Garrard & Co. Limited, London is one of the world’s finest makers of luxury jewelry and silver. Garrard was the first official Crown Jeweler of the UK, charged with the upkeep of the British Crown Jewels, from 1843 to 2007, and was responsible for the creation of many tiaras and jewels still worn by the British royal family today. As well as jewelry, Garrard is known for having created some of the world's most illustrious sporting trophies, including the Americas Cup, the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy and a number of trophies for Royal Ascot in its role as Official Trophies and Silverware Supplier, which originally dates back to the first Gold Cup in 1842.