Ship models, Cargo vessels

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Leon (1880); Cargo vessel; Brigantine

Ship models

Object connections:

Collection Ship models, Cargo vessels
Gallery locationNot on display
VesselsLeon 1880
Publication(s)Ship models : their purpose and development from 1650 to the present : illustrated from the ship model collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

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Object details:

Object ID SLR2510
Description Scale: 1:96. Harold Underhill wrote extensively on sailing vessels, and he had a productive business making and selling ship plans for modelmakers. His book ‘Plank-on Frame Models’, published by Brown, Son & Ferguson, in 1960, is a two-volume set detailing the building and rigging of the brigantine ‘Leon’ (1880) and it is still much sought after by aficionados. The volumes detail the approach to building a ship model plank on frame, much the same way full-sized ships were built. Using the ‘Leon’ as a test case, Underhill shows in the first volume how to make the frames from plans, plank the hull, deck and bulwarks and construct fittings. The second volume describes the process of masting and rigging a model. The books include detailed plans of the ‘Leon’, and other vessels by way of examples. The author takes an uncompromising approach to modelmaking, treating it simultaneously as an enjoyable hobby and a strict discipline. There are no kits here, just the reader, wood, thread and metal. Everything is built from scratch, nothing is ready made. Because of Underhill’s publication there are umpteen models of the ‘Leon’ around. This model, however, was made by Underhill himself and bequeathed by him to the Museum. He has depicted the vessel under construction; hatted and cloth-capped shipbuilders are planking the starboard hull, and there is a pile of ladders and planks alongside. The miniaturized scene is one of shipbuilding in progress, but Underhill has also rather wittily made a model about modelmaking.
Date made 1950

Artist/Maker Underhill, Harold A.
Place made Baltonsborough, Somerset, England
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials coating: varnish; metal: brass; metal: steel; organic: cotton; wood
Measurements Overall model and case: 497 x 622 x 256 mm
  • Leon (1880); Cargo vessel; Brigantine (SLR2510)
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