Warship; 100 Guns; French

Scale: unknown. Full hull model of a French 100-gun three-decker ship of the line. A small-scale model, with the main part of the hull carved from a single piece of bone, which has been pieced and fitted with three rows of turned brass cannon. The masts and spars are also made from bone whilst both the standing and running rigging is mainly silk thread, which has been laid up into various sizes. It is complete with a female figurehead, white ensign (modern) and a set of boats rigged over the stern on davits and yard tackles amidships. The whole model is mounted on its original wooden baseboard, which has been decorated with inlaid stained straw in geometrical and floral patterns.

During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793–1815), large numbers of French prisoners were housed in open prisons throughout Britain. Their daily food ration included half a pound of beef or mutton on the bone. Subsequently, the bone became a readily available source of raw material from which a variety of objects were crafted. Other materials were also used including wood, horn, brass, silk, straw and glass. Typically, the models were not made to scale as accurate scale plans were not available and tools were limited. To realize a good price at market, the models were often named after famous ships of the time, whilst some models included spring-loaded guns operated by cords.

Object Details

ID: SLR0630
Collection: Ship models
Type: Full hull model; Rigged model
Display location: Not on display
Date made: circa 1800
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall model and base: 192 x 238 x 79 mm

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