The Collections

Ship in a bottle

Created: 01.12.11

The craft of putting ship models in bottles has both fascinated and puzzled people for years. Here is just a few of the ones we have in the collection, selected by Simon Stephens our curator of ship models and boats. You can read his thoughts about them on the collection blog.

The museum is also looking to raise funds to buy artist Yinke Shonibare's ship in a bottle sculpture of HMS Victory that was displayed on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. For information on how you can help visit The Art Fund website


  • Name
  • Artist / Maker
  • Date made
  • ID
  • Groot, E. P. de
    1975
    LM092
    Be British

    A model of the liner 'Titanic' 1912 in a blue-tinted, glass bottle. The model is made of wood with sewing thread rigging. The plaster sea is painted indicating the ship's wash. The vessel has yellow funnels and her hull is…

  • Unknown
    early 20th century
    item-models
    Ship model

    A large bottle containing models of a three-masted and four-masted ship with a brig under sail. The vessels are wearing the White Ensign and are therefore intended to represent warships. The sea is made of plaster and the models are…

  • Lester, Dr Mark
    1977
    W1977-73
    Ship model

    A Haig's dimple whisky bottle with a Turk’s head knot around the neck, containing a model of the Thames sailing barge 'Cambria' 1906. The cork is decorated with a medal showing a galleon and inscribed 'DEVS SALVA NOS'. On a…

  • Orr, Robert
    early 20th century
    L4(48)I
    Ship model

    A green glass bottle containing a model of a four-masted barque on a green sea. The model is made of wood with rigging made of sewing thread. The sails are depicted furled, and the sides of the vessel are painted…

  • Orr, Robert
    early 20th century
    L4(48)D
    Ship model

    A ship model in a bottle. The model depicts a three-masted barque with four buildings and a lighthouse in the background. The model would be inserted into the bottle with the masts collapsed and the rigging only partly attached. The…

  • Orr, Robert
    20th century
    L4(48)A
    Ship model

    An oval spirit bottle containing a model of a four-masted British barque and a lighthouse. The sea is made from plaster and the model is wood with rigging made of sewing thread. The hull of the vessel is painted with…

  • Orr, Robert
    early 20th century
    L4(48)B
    Ship model

    A wine bottle containing a model of a three-masted barque on a blue plaster sea. A port scene with cottages and a lighthouse has been inserted into the base of the bottle. The top of the neck has been covered…

  • Unknown
    early 20th century
    L3(54)
    Ship model

    A green wine bottle containing a model of an Italian three-masted barque in full sail on the starboard tack. She wears the Italian ensign and pennant. The model is made of wood with paper sails and rigging of sewing thread.…

  • Unknown
    20th century
    W1989-37
    Ship model

    A bottle containing a model of a ship with black and white painted sides, shown in full sail in an icy sea. The model is made of wood, with cotton rigging, paper sails and signal flags. There is a Turk's…

  • Unknown
    circa 1969
    SR1970-22
    Ship model

    A bottle containing a model of a container ship wearing the German ensign named 'Mosel Express' with a background of cranes one of which is marked 'Bremer Vulcan'. The bottle is mounted on a wooden stand. It was given to…

  • Unknown
    early 20th century
    M1954-44
    Ship model

    A large bottle containing three rigged models of three-masted ships in full sail on a blue-green plaster sea base. The ships have chequer board sides and are made of wood with paper sails and rigging made of sewing thread.The cork…

  • Lester, Dr Mark
    1978
    W1979-39
    Ship model

    A dimple whisky bottle containing a model of the schooner 'Kathleen and May' 1900. The topsail schooner is shown in a rough sea under sail. The bottle has a Turk's head knot round the cork in synthetic fibre cord. A…

  • Chatterton, J.
    1938
    SM1969-7
    Ship model; bottle

    A bottle containing a model of the Finnish, four-masted barque 'Herzogin Cecilie' 1902-36 with a small tug in the neck of the bottle. The models are made of wood, the hull of the main ship painted white and with no…

  • Labistour, Leon
    1977
    item-models
    Ship model

    A whisky bottle containing a model of a barque-rigged vessel of the 1850s or 1860s wearing a red ensign and a pennant with the name 'Richard'. Signal flags make her number (6389 in Marryat's code). There is a steam tug…

  • Orr, Robert
    20th century
    L4(48)G
    Ship model

    A bottle containing a model of a British three-masted barque, her sail is furled and wearing the Red Ensign. The model is made of wood with sewing thread rigging with the ship's hull painted to suggest gunports. The deck fittings…

  • Orr, Robert
    before 1900
    L4(48)C
    Ship model

    An oval bottle containing a model of a British three-masted barque of circa 1880 on a wooden stand. '296' is moulded on the base of the battle. The model is made of wood with the deck fittings shown in some…

  • Orr, Robert
    early 20th century
    L4(48)E
    Ship model

    A wine bottle containing a model of a four-masted barque. The model is made of wood, with no sails, the rigging is made of sewing thread and the hull is painted black. The sea is made of plaster, painted green.

  • Orr, Robert
    after 1914
    L4(48)H
    null

    A wine bottle containing a model of a liner with four funnels painted in Cunard livery. The vessel is possibly 'Aquitania' 1914. The model is made of wood with sewing thread rigging. The sea is made of plaster, rocks and…

  • Orr, Robert
    early 20th century
    L4(48)F
    Ship model

    A spirit bottle containing a demonstration model of a three-masted barque. A wooden dowel has been inserted through the inside end of the wooden stopper providing an additional construction mystery. The sea is made of green-coloured putty, the ship is…

  • Unknown
    20th century
    M1954-44
    Ship model

    A bottle containing a model of a four-masted barque wearing a Red Ensign and the International Code signal flags 'J, 1, 3' as pennants at the mastheads. The model is made of wood with rigging made of sewing thread; the…

  • Sheppard, Frederick
    late 19th century
    M1965-25
    Ship model

    A bottle containing a very inaccurate model of a ship-rigged vessel. It is mounted on a black wooden base. The sea is made of plaster and this has also been inserted into the base of the bottle to give a…

  • Unknown
    circa 1950
    M1963-74
    Ship model

    A Johnnie Walker square whisky bottle containing a model of the four-masted barque 'Olivebank' 1892 with a lighthouse on a shoreline in the background. The sea is made of plaster as are the two islands, the model is made of…