Book review Book Review: "NAVY BOARD SHIP MODELS, 1650 - 1750" by John Franklin


Staff member
Dec 25, 2017

Vienna, Austria
by John Franklin

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  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Conway Maritime Press Ltd; 1st Edition edition (30 April 1989)
  • Language: English
  • Product Dimensions: 24.7 x 27.2 cm, or 10 x 1 x 12 inches
On amazon for 12 GBP used, on abebooks for 14 GBP, usual price between 35 and 50 Euro


The official Admirality or Dockyard model is universally acknowledged to be the most sophisticated expression of the ship modeller´s art; yet apart from the belief that such models were useful adjuncts in the design stages of their full-size prototypes not a great deal is known about them. Who was responsible for building them for instance, and indeed often the identity of the models themselves, remain uncertain and have provoked debate amongst scholars for decades.
Navy Board Ship Models is the first book which addresses itself to these and other questions. The background and use of the models is fully discussed before the author turns to a detailed analysis of their materials, construction techniques and decoration - a whole section is devoted to their controversial style of framing. The second half of the book comprises a representative selection of some two dozen of the best models described in detail, with photographs and line drawings. The book concludes with several appendices dealing with contemporary references to various models.
John Franklin has unearthed much fascinating material which is of enormous value to the historian, modelmaker, antiquarian and dealer.

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left side: bow of HMS Royal William, stern of HMS Royal William, engraving HMS Britannia
right side: types of model framing, disposition of timbers


  1. Historical Background (page 1 to 7)
  2. Hull Framing (page 8 to 18)
  3. Construction and Fittings (page 19 to 44)
  4. Scales and Dimensions (page 45 to 52)
  5. Identification of Ship Models (page 53 to 58)
  6. Hull Supports, Baseboards and Display Cabinets (page 59 to 62)
The Models (page 63 to 175)
  1. Ship of 50-58 guns c1655
  2. Fifth Rate of 36-40 guns 1669
  3. HMS St. Michael, Second Rate of 90-98 guns 1669
  4. First Rate c1670
  5. Fifth Rate of 34 guns, Reign of Charles II
  6. HMS Hampton Court, third Rate of 40-46 guns 1678
  7. HMS Mordaunt, Fourth Rate of 40-46 guns 1681
  8. Fourth Rate of 50 guns 1682
  9. HMS Coronation, Second Rate of 90 guns 1685
  10. Fourth Rate of 50 guns c1691
  11. HMS Boyne, Third Rate of 80 guns on two decks 1692
  12. HMS Lizard, Sixth Rate of 24 guns 1697
  13. First Rate of 96 guns c1702
  14. Third Rate of 70 guns c1702
  15. Galley-frigate of 32-40 guns 1702
  16. Fourth Rate of 46-54 guns c1703
  17. HMS Marlborough, Second Rate of 90 guns 1706
  18. Third Rate of 70 guns 1706
  19. Fourth Rate of 44-50 guns c1710
  20. Fourth Rate of 50 guns c1715
  21. HMS Lion, Fourth Rate of 60 guns 1738
  22. Second Rate of 80 guns c1740
  23. Third Rate of 70 guns c1740
  24. Fourth Rate of 52 guns c1740
  25. HMS Royal Oak, Third Rate of 70 guns 1741
  26. HMS Devonshire, Third Rate of 66 guns 1745
Appendices (page 176 to 200)
  1. Block Models
  2. Letters concerning a model for the Admirality Boardroom
  3. Models of Phineas Pett
  4. Samuel Pepys and Models
  5. Steering Arrangements
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left side: Fourth rate 1725, curves of rising line of floor heads, rising timbers
right side: deck framing koints, deck framing in midships, joints of ledges


In the first part of his book John Franklin is describing the basic elements and the construction of the Navy Board Models. Detailed photos of different models as well as numerous drawings and sketches documenting the different construction elements and their execution f.e. of framing, but also the different fittings like stairs, ladders, laterns etc. and comparing this on different models. Scaling and classifying the models to different time periods are described in additional chapters.

In the second part of the publication John Franklin is introducing not less than 26 Navy Board models. In addition to very good black- and white photos he is explaining specialities of the different models like fittings, carvings, coloring and the measures of the model. If the model can be assigned to a real ship he is also comparing the measures of model with the original.

The book is providing with documentation of contemporary models an interesting insight of the development of English ship construction of the time period between 1650 and 1750. Although there are only a view colored photos, it is very valuable book and recommended.

Well worth the modest price!

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left side: Main and fore channel, types of channel braces, channel ends
right side:Fourth rate of 1710 midships, gratings, coaming details

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left side: Scales and dimensions, Anthony Deane´s midship section, diminishing scale based on common fractions, on decimal fractions
right side: HMS Corronation 1685 broadside detail and bow, HMS Boyne 1692, HMS Hampton Court 1678

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left side: HMS Royal William 1749, Third rate 1702, stern of a fourth rate 1742, third rate HMS Yarmouth bow and upper deck and waist
right side: ship of 50-58 guns 1655, quarterdeck, aft and forward part of upper deck

Fifth rate of 36-40 guns 1660,quarter gallery, after part of waist

For more Look Inside photos please go to the next post


Staff member
Dec 25, 2017

Vienna, Austria
by John Franklin

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left side: First rate 1670 Deane´s draught of third rate, figurehead similar to HMS Prince 1670
right side: Fifth rate 34 guns, Reign of Charles II, head, main channel, stern, waist

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left side: Fourth rate 50 guns 1682, port broadside, head with lion, lavish stern decoration
right side: HMS Coronation 90 guns 1685, port broadside

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left side: Fourth rate 50 guns 1691, port broadside, winding stairs, bow
right side: HMS Boyne 80 guns 1692, main jeer, top sail sheet bits and gallows, poop deck, trumpeter cabin , forecastle bulkhead and belfry

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left side: First rate 96 guns 1702, forward end of waist, fair leads on main head rail, stern with balcony
right side: Galley frigate 32-40 guns 1702, draught of the Charles Galley 1676, starboard broadside

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left side: HMS Marlborough, second rate 90 guns 1706, starboard broadside, stern, bow, starboard quarter
right side: Fourth rate 50 guns 1715, port and starboard broadside

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left side: HMS Lion 60 guns 1738, poop and quarterdeck, stern, + second rate 80 guns 1740 with port broadside from stern
right side: Second rate 80 guns 1740 HMS Barfleur figurehead, stern with draped curtains

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left side: Fourth rate 52 guns 1740 with upper deck and waist, launching craddle aft and forward, HMS Royal Oak third rate 70 guns 1741 with broadside
right side: HMS Devonshire third rate 66 guns 1745 with port broadside, stern head with Lion figurehead

Many thanks for your interest