Antiques 101: On Deck
Photographs byLarry Monteith
Two centuries of model ships
Now used primarily as display pieces, model ships (and the practice of crafting them) date back to ancient Egypt, when they were used as props during burial rites. Later, European rulers commissioned detailed models to use as blueprints for shipbuilding. No longer a modern-day necessity, the ornate vessels make for intriguing studies in maritime architecture.
In the 16th century, imprisoned French and English seamen found relief from boredom by building ship models from wood and bone.
In the Details
The more intricate the model, the higher the price. The most valuable are antique ships boasting hand-carved cannons, lifeboats, and other true-to-life details.
William G. Thomas-Moore, model ship craftsman:
These vessels came to us courtesy of local expert William G. Thomas-Moore, notable maritime enthusiast who’s been crafting and restoring detailed replicas of historic ships for nearly five decades. The Ohio native happened upon his skill at the age of 20, after promising his father he could build a model clipper ship using a mahogany rail. Thomas-Moore succeeded—an executive for Goodyear purchased his model and commissioned two more, thus establishing the craftsman’s career. Today, Thomas-Moore has built or revived more than 100 ships, some taking as long as two years. Check out his work locally: a five-foot model of the H.L. Hunley submarine at Charleston Museum and an eight-foot replica of Blackbeard’s flagship at Queen Anne’s Revenge on Daniel Island. Or contact him at Ship Shapes of Charleston, (843) 324-8792, online at shipshapesgallery.blogspot.com, or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Produced by Betsy Shackelford