Bill Broadbent’s home is !lled with wonderful model ships. Here, Janet Gleeson talks to Paul A"erbury about nautical antiques
Tell us a li! le about the range of collectable nautical objects
At the top end, there’s navigational instruments, marine paintings and ships’ models. Sailors’ cra !s (such as woolwork pictures, ships in bo"les and scrimshaw), furniture, ceramics and glass are also collectable, as are parts of ships, including lights and also #gureheads. At a more modest level, some enthusiasts also collect ephemera such as menus and postcards.
How do ships’ models "t within the nautical spectrum, and what kinds of models are available?
They have always been popular, possibly because they are one of the most accessible areas of nautical antiques, although the market has dipped in recent years. The variety is vast: you’ll # nd everything from modestly priced models made by amateur makers, and sailors’ models, including ships in bo"les. Then, mid-range, there are some wonderful carved ships, o!en made by talented amateur makers and, at the top end, incredibly detailed examples made by prisoners of war or shipyard modellers.
What are shipyard models and why were they made?
It was the norm for shipbuilders to make a scale model of ships they were commissioned to build for the boardroom of the shipping line in question. These models were precision made, o!en by apprentices working in the dockyard. Professional makers, such as Basse"-Lowke, also produced top- quality models for commercial purposes, such as RMS Queen Mary, for passengers to buy as souvenirs.
What determines value and what should we look out for when buying?
The name of the ship, the age of the model and the quality of cra !smanship are all crucial. Collectors term any model that is old and built by hand from plans or imagination as ‘scratch-built’. Early interesting scratch-built ships are always desirable and prices for the best prisoner of war models or shipyard models can be £ 20,000 or more.
Prices tend to be much lower for later run- of-the-mill vessels and those made by amateur modellers, especially if they were made later than the vessel they depict. There are also lots of models made from kits on the market – these may have decorative value but are less desirable. Replicas made in the Far East should also be avoided. Buy from a specialist dealer or at auction.
A high-quality model hull of Shamrock, Sir Thomas Lupton’s 1920s yacht, is displayed in the centre of the table. To the left, is a tiny Second World War model of a frigate and, to the right, what was possibly a salesman’s aid in the form of a First World War model torpedo.
The dining table in the main hall is used to display some of Bill’s model ship and yacht hulls.
BELOW Ships’ ropes hang from the ancient beams of the barn.