Replica Ship Models – Nautical Art, Marketing Tool or Both?

model ship in a box

Published May 3, 2023 3:00 PM by SD Model Makers

Boat builders and owners have been using replica models for centuries.  The earliest known models are of Bronze Age ships. Made of clay, they are crude representations of canoe-like boats possibly made from hollowed-out tree trunks. Archaeologists have found accurate scale ship models in Egyptian tombs dating as far back as 2000 B.C. The ancient Egyptians believed that the dead could travel on land but needed "spirit ships" to cross the Nile. Ancient ship and boat models have been discovered throughout the Mediterranean, especially from ancient Greece, Egypt, and Phoenicia. Archaeologists have determined that ancient Greek ship models were used as burial or votive offerings and as household articles such as lamps or drinking vessels.

The elaborate ship models constructed for Britain’s Royal Navy were referred to as Admiralty models and were principally constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries to depict proposed warship designs. Admiralty models served to educate civilians who were involved in the financing or some other aspect of the ship, to avoid construction errors that might have evolved as the ship itself took form.

Half hull models were customarily used by shipwrights to fashion a half-model of a ship prior to construction. These models enabled the builder to study and perfect hull design before a complete set of plans was drawn.

In the early part of the 20th Century, amateur ship model kits became available from companies in Great Britain and in the United States. Early 20th century models comprised a combination of wooden hulls and cast lead for anchors, deadeyes, and rigging blocks. In the decades since World War II plastic model ship kits became increasingly popular. These kits consist of preformed plastic parts which can be bonded together with plastic cement, and optionally painted. The plastic models are much simpler to construct than the more labor-intensive traditional wooden models.

Visit many ship building company offices, the Pentagon, almost any yacht club, or even the White House, and you’ll see both full and half hull models on display.

One often asks, “Could I get a model of my boat?” Thanks to the team at SD Model Makers you can now commission an incredibly detailed scale model of your boat, in any size or scale desired. The commissioning process is straightforward - If you can take a photograph, you can have a model made of your boat. It is that simple! Working with photographs and available boat plans, line drawings and other resources, the crew at SD Model Makers will work to create an exact replica model that will bring you continued pleasure, even when you switch from captain’s chair to desk chair.

Model sizes range from 12-inches to four feet on up – you decide on the size or scale. Each model ship comes fully assembled, the hull is made using a combination of ABS and kiln-dried mahogany, with other parts made from a variety of woods, resins and metals Waterline models with sea state dioramas, cut-away sections and LED lighting are some available options. The fun part is deciding where to display your model – at home or the office.  It will bring smiles to the faces of all who enjoyed her and discussions with those who wish they could have. Replica models, be it for trade show exhibits, office/dealer displays, or customer gifts, SD Model Makers can create them all.

About the Author

SD Model Makers was founded in 2007 by Brad Poulos, a passionate waterman with an MBA and 20 years of medical device marketing experience. He is also a 100-ton USCG licensed captain, racing and cruising sailor, a multihull fanatic, surfer, kite boarder, scuba diver and lover of all things nautical. Combining his nautical passions with an extensive sales and marketing background, he created SD Model Makers. The company specializes in made-to-order replica ship model sales.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.