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A Precious Model Ship Revealed

Apr 9, 2008
The principal object of this article is to reveal and provide leads and contacts to sources of information for those modelers who are interested in research work. The model below was dug up out of the dust of time. No plans or pictures of it existed and no one knew what it looked like.

This is a national treasure of great historical importance, a precious symbol that appeals to descendants of bygone shipmasters, builders or operators. Scores of others await the research worker's patience and the craftsman's skill. Some of these old ships have colored the pages of local history with great significance and gallant enterprise that laid the foundation of many communities and the fortunes of hundreds of descendants still living.

Research work alone, without craftsmanship, cannot bring the knowledge recovered into fruition. Pictures, writing and lectures fail to produce the detailed images of these old ships. Only the skilled modeler can fashion them into treasured models of great accuracy.

Research and modeling combined is by far the most absorbing of all hobbies because it is remunerative enough to make a retired man feel useful and important in his later days. It is an unending quest from which there is no escape nor any desire to do so. Age never catches up with him and boredom is unknown.

The Flagship Traveller

The Traveller was the flagship of a fleet of twenty-six ships that traded among the Islands of the Caribbean from 1750, until 1829. This enterprise is a salt water saga of vigil, hardships and little ease. The stouthearted family that owned and operated these vessels pitted their resources and courage against the cruel sea for eighty years; sometimes winning great stakes when their luck was in; at other times losing everything through the vagaries of the sea.

Long before the Registry of Shipping opened in 1787, these little home built sloops and schooners were operating out of St. Kitts, St. Vincent and Bermuda. All that is known of them is their departure dates in the Register. They sailed away upon their lawful occasions manned by local crews; some reached their destination and returned; others were never heard of again; but the family took their losses for granted and built others. Four times in four score years the fleet was reduced to one vessel, or to nil. Each time disaster struck, the family staked all their assets on a new fleet, only to have them fall victims to enemy action, hazards of the sea or act of God.

All that is known of these missing ships is the melancholy entry in the Register of Shipping "Not cancelled out" meaning that they are still missing after a century and a half.

The flagship appears on the scene in 1820 with her sister ships, Dart, Paget and Mariner. Undaunted by earlier losses, the family staked all their possessions on these great brigs that could range as far north as Newfoundland for salt codfish; to Halifax for lumber and flour, and southward to Trinidad for sugar, molasses and pitch.

For the next nine years fortune smiled; their lands and possessions were redeemed; the ships were paid for. Then out of the blue disaster came again.

Early in 1829 the Dart foundered in a hurricane off Barbadoes with the loss of all hands; in April of the same year, the flagship Traveller was a total loss on the Bahamas; three months later, on July 3rd, the Mariner piled up on the rocks of Cape Cause, N.S. a total loss. It was the end; the Paget was sold; the house flag, the cross patee, was hauled down for the last time.

There was not much research work attached to the pattern of the Traveller, although there were no insurance underwriters to provide details of her. Information in the Registry of Shipping, although scant and cryptic, provided her dimensions and rig. Typical brigs, built after the war of 1812, supplied many other details needed. The model of the Traveller is owned by Kenneth Trimmingham, Esq.

This is but one of the many lost ships which can be brought to life again by a skilled modeler. Good luck!
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