If you are considering investing in an authentic shipbuilder's
half hull, these are some things of which you should be aware.
UNDERSTANDING HALF HULLS
Antique buiders model of a collier, 47 1/2" L x
10 1/4" H x 6" W, Ca 1890, SOLD!
There are a number of different types of authentic half hulls, all of which had different uses
and applications. It is helpful in evaluating a half hull to be aware of their use so they may be compared to others
of the same type and to contemporary reproductions. Many pictures of the models in this section, unless otherwise
noted, have been sold.
BUILDERS CONSTRUCTION HALF HULL: This type model was made
for the purpose of establishing the shape of the vessel, and was constructed out of a series of planks called "lifts" which
were joined together using dowels prior to 1820 or by screws afterwards. When disassembled, the individual lifts were laid
on the floor and expanded to full size in a process called "lofting". From these shapes timbers were cut, and frames and strakes were
assembled to build the full size vessel.
Builder's construction models are rare, old, are
varnished rather than painted, and devoid of detail. They are one off, large rather than medium to small size, and
they always can be taken apart. If the name of the vessel is known, their value is greater. The varnished wood has generally
mellowed with age and has a rich dark patina. Their value increases with the prominence of the vessel if known, the size
of the hull, and of course, most important, its condition.
Builder's construction plating models were used to lay out the
location of the ship's plating when construction changed from wood to iron and then to steel.
What is confusing is there are various types of BUILDER'S MODELS which
don't have all those characteristics. Builder's DISPLAY MODELS don't come apart, but were made by builders,
either to present to the ship owners or to be used as displays of completed ships in the builder's offices or at trade
shows for sales promotion. Consequently. they may be done in much greater detail, have painted hulls and other embellishments
that make them more visually appealing. Models of merchant ships enclosed in glass cases can sell for $15000.00 and more.
The example in this listing and this half hull of the SS OITHONA have
all the characteristics of a true builder's display model.
Builder's Model S.S. Oithona,
Dated 1850, 60" L x 11 3/4" H x 4" W, Served in Australian Trade, SOLD to New Zealand
This example is of a authentic builder's construction model.
Builder's Half Hull Model of Large Sailing Ship 44" x 10"; Ca 1900;
Handed down in maker's family SOLD!
is an antique builder's half hull model that was made to lay out the steel or iron plates to skin the hull of a
three island cargo ship. It is inked on the hull that her number is 145, and that the model was lengthened 8' 2" more
than her original designed length. Her name and builder are not known. However, the vessel's lines with her plumb
bow and fantail counter stern dates the vessel as being built around the last quarter of the 19th Century. The hull
is built from what appears to be six lifts of knot free wood, possibly Spruce, and is mounted on a Mahogany backboard,
also of one piece which is 1 inch thick. Combined they weigh 26 pounds.
The ship model is 46" L x 4 1/2 W x 5
1/2" Depth measured from well deck to keel
The backboard is 54" L
x 16" H x 1" D Weight 26
This rare and intersting model has been SOLD.
one looks like a builders plating model of the Iron Ship VIXEN, but was made by an English artesian
in the 1950's and is a reproduction.
Plating Half Hull Model of Clipper Ship VIXEN, 20th Cent, 45"
x 10" SOLD
And this one is of a yacht, the Fishers Island 23. It is both a builder's construction model,
but was later finished in paint, and became a builder's display model. The model and the yacht were made by the famous
Herreshoff Manufacturing Company of Bristol, RI, around 1931. It is available for sale. Click here for detailed
The model's dimensions are: one
inch equals one foot:
LOA 33 1/2" LWL 23"
Beam x 2 = 7"
IN A NUT SHELL: Block and half block models became more common
after 1720 and builders made these to illustrate the designs provided to them by engineering firms. By the middle of the 1850s
half block models were common in commercial shipyards. They were used as aids for framing, planking and plating ships. By
the 1880s, more were being made for display only.
LIFT METHOD: Half Hulls were carefully hand carved, and incorporated the latest
in the designer's knowledge of which shape produced the fastest and most seaworthy vessel. They are usually made using
multiple layers of wood, stacked one on top of each other on a horizontal plane, called lifts. The lifts were made to
be taken apart, and were used as a template to lay off the lines on the floor. These were then enlarged to the vessel's
full size in a process that was called "lofting".
BUTTOCK METHOD: In this method, the concept is similar, but the lift's
are placed together on a vertical plane, and instead of describing the shape of waterlines, they show the shape of the
vessels buttock's or cheeks. When translated into an elevation drawing, the buttocks appear as curved lines and the stations
and waterlines appear as straight vertical lines. This is in contrast to a plan view of the vessel's shape where the waterlines are
shown as curved lines and the buttocks and stations as straight lines.
This half model of the Royal Yacht Squadron schooner Tatania is an example of a "buttocks model".
IT IS FOR SALE!
If you're still trying to make a decision, consider the space where the model will
be displayed. If you have a lot of wall area, you want a large model to carry it. The opposite is also true. Also consider
how much you really want to spend. There is a big difference in price between the various types of half hull models