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Half Hull “Mary B. Dyer” – Ship Design by Donald McKay

If you are considering investing in an authentic shipbuilder’s half hull,
these are some things you should know. When you are done reading, you may want to view our current vintage
and antique half-hull models.


builders model of a coal collier, 47 1/2″ L x 10 1/4″ H x 6″ W, Ca 1890,

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 contemporary reproductions. Many of the models
in this section, unless otherwise noted, have been sold.

BUILDERS CONSTRUCTION HALF HULL: This type of model was made to establish 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 afterward. 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, 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, its 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
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, and 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.

PRESENTATION HALF MODELS: were made to be given as gifts to the party contracting for the vessel such as a steamship
company, yacht owner, government, etc. They also were used at trade shows and in the builder’s office to demonstrate their
capabilities and as a visual record of the ships, they had built.

The example in this listing and this half hull of the SS OITHONA have all the
characteristics of a true builder’s presentation model.

Builder’s Model S.S. Oithona, above, Dated
1850, 60″ L x 11 3/4″ H x 4″ W, Served in Australian Trade and was sold to a buyer in  New Zealand.

This example is of an authentic builder’s construction model of the Schooner
Mermaid. It was made by its master builder and handed down in his family in an unfinished
state. After much deliberation, our shop finished it as he would have done.

Builder’s Half Hull Model of Large Sailing Ship
Mermaid above after sanding, but yet unfinished, 44″ x 10″; Ca 1900; Handed down in maker’s family

This one looks like a builders plating model of
the Iron Ship VIXEN, but was made by an English artesian in the 1950s and is a reproduction.

Half Hull Model of Clipper Ship VIXEN, 20th Cent, 45″ x 10″


This one is
an authentic builder’s plating half hull of an unidentified cargo ship likely dating to around 1900.

The model is 63″ L x 6 3/8” W x
7 1/4 Depth measured from well deck to keel
The backboard is 66 1/2″ L x 11 1/4″ H x 1″ D
44.5 pounds
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.

The model’s
dimensions are: one inch equals one foot:LOA 33 1/2″ LWL 23″ Beam x 2 = 7″Draft 4
“IN A NUTSHELL”: Block and half
block models became more common after 1720, and builders made these to illustrate the designs provided to them by engineering
firms. For ease of use, they were held together by dowels. By the middle of the 1850s, half-block models were common in commercial
shipyards, and the use of wood screws had replaced dowels. If you come across a model held together with dowels, you know you
have a special find. They were used as aids for framing, planking, and plating ships. By the 1880s, more were being made
for display only as being representative of the builder’s or naval architect’s capabilities.
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 lifts 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. Both types of modeling are shown in the diagram below.

This half
model of the Royal Yacht Squadron schooner Titania is an example of a “buttocks model”.
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 want to spend. There is a big difference in
price between the various types of half-hull models.
Please click here to go to our
page of one-of-a-kind antique and vintage builder’s half-hull models.  https://landandseacollection.com/id300.html

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