For centuries, the sea has had an inexplicable grip on the human imagination. Civilizations throughout history were reliant on it for sustenance and travel, and archeological discoveries from ancient seafaring empires have led to modern understanding of warfare, religious beliefs, and commerce. Ship models have been at the core of these findings; the Greeks and Egyptians used them both as household objects and burial offerings, while later centuries saw the rise of the craft in Europe predominantly for religious purposes. Early models dating from the 12th to 15th centuries were used for blessing ships before a voyage, as wreckages were all-too common during the early days of naval exploration and warfare.
Today, ship models provide both pleasure and education for those who build, research, and collect them. In the 19th century, particularly in Great Britain, government offcials and ship builders relied on models to assist with the purchasing and manufacturing of a new vessel. Now, antique and contemporary models can satisfy a collector’s love of design, craftsmanship and naval history. Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery is delighted to be offering five exciting models of different ships during their upcoming spring auction, which will take place on March 31st, April 1 and 2, 2017.
The five ship models on offer come from private American collections. One of the models, a four-masted Spanish Galleon launched in 1650, was constructed by the late Dale D. Suttle, a former research scientist from San Antonio who handcrafted museum-quality models to scale. Galleons were indispensible during the ‘age of sail’ in Europe from the 16th-18th centuries, used as both warships and merchant vessels that became commonplace by the 19th century. In the second lot, a charming model of a three-masted Chinese junk cuts through frothy turquoise water, the fully battened sails a deep violet above the slender carved body. A 20th century model of a three-masted ship o’ the line, speaks to history of naval combat, where two opposing ships faced each other head-on to demonstrate the greatest broadside power. A model with historical significance is that of the Nightingale-class British naval cutter HMS Speedy, which launched in 1828 after its completion at Plymouth Dockyard. Cutters were smaller vessels built for speed, and this particular model highlights British marine history, as Speedy was the fourth in her name to serve and sail for the Royal Navy.
The most monumental example on offer is a custom made model of the three-masted clipper ship, Thermopylae, launched in 1868, with its own case on stand measuring an impressive 145.5”h x 121”l. Second only in fame to the Cutty Sark, Thermopylae was built for George Thompson’s Aberdeen Line as a merchant vessel for the China trade. She set the fastest trip on record by completing her maiden voyage from Gravesend to Melbourne in just sixty-three days, going on to become a world-famous ‘tea clipper’ before ending her career with the Portuguese navy as a training vessel. This impressive and imposing ship model is the perfect opportunity to own a beautiful example of one of the greatest maritime clippers ever to cross the sea and back.
Heed the call of your inner adventurer with these exciting ship models and let your imagination sail away with Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery this April!