I saw Nick (at work) today for the first time in three weeks. He was overjoyed. His reason was simple. For many years he has been the sole knowledgebase when it comes to shipping ephemera and he’s had no-one to talk to about this interesting subject. Now that I’ve been completely submerged in the Shipping Gallery and researched just about everything there is to research, he feels he has a kindred spirit.
For instance, today we had a long discussion about the 1719 Establishment, the 1733 amendment to the Establishment, the 1741 amendment as well as the whole Establishment thing. This was very handy in giving an accurate date range for the year made of a model ship.
To explain…the Establishment was an attempt by the British Navy to improve its ships by changing the practice of previous years of merely copying designs of other nations (French, Dutch, Portuguese). In order to achieve this, the 1719 Establishment set forth what made a British ship of the line. New designs were made, following equally new templates, according to the Establishment ‘rules’.
The Establishment caused a massive throng of ship building and an increase in the navy. It also improved the fighting strength of His Majesty’s fleet. I would go so far as to say that it went some way to making Britannia rule the waves…though that’s my opinion; I haven’t seen the theory anywhere else.
The 1719 Establishment (with amendments) lasted until 1745 when a new Establishment was…well, established. Interestingly, the main change to the 1745 was the fact that ship design was all centralised in the office of the Surveyor of the Navy. Under the 1719, the design was the responsibility of the Master Shipwright of the dockyard where the ship was to be built.
All of this is very interesting but what it gives a researcher is a date range. Once I knew what the changes were with each year, I could then pin down a design to within that date range. This proved particularly useful with one model which had a date made of 1730-1940! I managed to narrow it down to 1736-1741 (five years is much better than 210).
The models I’ve been working on lately are shipyard models, created before the actual ship was made in order to show the navy what was going to be built. They are incredibly detailed and utterly beautiful.
They are very similar to the small bits of furniture that craftsmen would make to take around to stately homes to show what they could build. These, eventually, evolved into dolls house furniture.
And so it was yet another Friday submerged in the glories of the sea in the age of sail. Very enjoyable.