Ship models

The blog Architectural History at Sea (well worth exploring for the minutia of maritime history and architecture) posted a link to some great photos of some truly amazing ship models.

I scoured the Kent State University library some time ago looking for books on ships and naval warfare (they have a pretty good collection) and stumbled onto a number of books on building ship models and also books of photos of ship models, and among the interesting little bits I found was a book (or a chapter of a book, it’s been years now) on votive ship models.  Apparently the grateful survivors of shipwrecks and naval battles, as well as ship owners hoping for blessings on their new ships, would build intricate ship models and have them hung from the rafters of churches, as decorations and religious offerings.  I’d read before of other votive models offered at medieval churches — often body parts, made of silver, to ask for the healing of, or express gratitude for the healing of, various ailments and injuries.  So, if you wanted the cankers on your leg to be healed, you might offer a clay or (if you were rich) silver model of a leg to the church.  I don’t know how long the churches kept them intact but I suspect that after a while at least some would be sold off or melted down.

The whole practice of offering votive models (and medallions, paintings, etc)at churches and temples goes back to ancient times, and such things might make nice source of treasure for plundering adventurers in D&D — a golden nose or a large and delicate model of a ship would be much more interesting than a coffer of coins.

Anyway here’s a Flickr collection of votive ships from Europe.

And an old ship model — said to be the oldest museum model (some votive models are much older)

Seeing all those ship models in books back in the day helped me come up with ideas for the Man’o’War models I scratch built.  At our last multi-DM campaign planning session Matt mentioned he’d like to see some naval battles at some point in the game, and that got me thinking about Man’o’War, the Games Workshop naval battle game I sank a fair amount of money and modelling time into without ever really playing much.  We ended up using some of the components in a GURPS pirates campaign but I should give the game a another shot.  All I remember about it is that we found the fleets to be pretty ‘unbalanced’ for a competitive game but now that I have room for a 6′ x 8′ game board, it could be a fun diversion once in a while.

Published in: on September 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for posting this… *extremely* useful for my latest miniature foray… Need ships to sail the mysterious seas!

    I’d never heard of the votive models… that is extremely cool.

  2. I’d never heard of the votive models either, that’s fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

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