Book review Book Review: "Old Ship Figure-Heads & Sterns" by L. G. Carr Laughton


Staff member
Dec 25, 2017

Vienna, Austria
Book Review:
Old Ship Figure-Heads & Sterns
with which are associated galleries, hancing-pieces, catheads and divers other matters that concern the "grace and countenance" of old sailing ships

by L. G. Carr Laughton (Leonard George Carr)

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Edition 1991
Published London : Conway Maritime, 1991.
Physical Description Hard Cover; In Dust Jacket / Slip Case 281 p., 55 p. of plates : ll. ; 31 cm. 2,7 kg
Notes Originally published: 1925. (limited edition with 1.500 copies) / The 1991 edition is limited to 750 copies

Small Folio in original gilt lettered blue cloth, gilt top edge and dust jacket with 8 tipped-in colour plates (including frontispiece), b&w plates and illsutrations in text from drawings.
Oversized hardback book with 281 pages of text. Illustrated with color frontispiece and 7 additional color plates, 48 plates in monochrome and over 70 line drawing in the text.


Due to the fact, that modelers and history interested members will be very much interested in the details I show here the contents list and the list of plates, illustrations, the Index of subjects and Index of ships much more in detail, than usual. So you can easier find your ship or period you are interested in.






REVIEW by Richard Hunter - Figurehead Historian

Prior to its original publication in 1925 by Halton & T. Smith of London, very little material had been published in the United Kingdom, on the subject of Decorative Maritime woodcarving, both in the Naval and Merchant traditions, specifically the area around the ships figurehead and the stern carvings, that was apart from the very occasional magazine article, appearing in such publications as the Century and Gentleman magazines, Illustrated London News, or The Strand magazine plus a number of other relatively obscure publications from the late 1890’s onwards, even then the treatment of the subject could be seen as was somewhat casual in it’s approach, and at the same time loose in it’s overall detail, errors and miss identifications published in one article would be repeated almost verboten in others, little of the material held in the archives of the British Admiralty or the Public records office was used or taken into account, without a doubt as a Naval historian Leonard Carr-Laughton understood and appreciated the subject and took great care with his meticulous and painstaking research in both public and private archives, in the United Kingdom , North and South Europe.

Much of this material had not been published before, he was able to categories the subject into a number of major chapters, Figureheads, The Stern, Quarter Galleries, the Broadside, Inboard works, and Painting & Gilding, each chapter had a number of sub-chapters such as British and then Foreign practice, this is invaluable if one is to understand and appreciate the different styles and traditions used thoughts the centuries from the early limited figureheads and decorations of the fifteenth century to the great excess of the highly ornate extravagance of the Baroque period thought out the whole of Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, to the ultimate end of the tradition at around the end of the nineteenth century, with the dramatic changes in Naval Architecture across the World with its fundamental and far-reaching change from traditional sail to steam during the last half of the century, and then eventually from Wood to Iron and then in time Steel during the last quarter, each chapter is rich with fine line illustrations taken from surviving models of the period, today this detailed research stands as the bench mark for our present day understanding and appreciation of this complex and fascinating subject, copies of the original large and handsomely bound limited edition are extremely rare and much sort after by collectors, as such good editions carry a high price on the open market.

Available RePrints:

Paperback reprint from 2011 by Dover Publications


Paperback Reprint in bigger size by Algrove in 2005
Smyth-sewn softcover, 8-1/2” x 11”, 296 pages, 8 full colour pages, numerous black and white photographs and line illustrations, first published in 1925, reprinted in 2006 as part of the Classic Reprint Series.


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see more in the following post


Staff member
Dec 25, 2017

Vienna, Austria
Book Review: PART II
Old Ship Figure-Heads & Sterns
with which are associated galleries, hancing-pieces, catheads and divers other matters that concern the "grace and countenance" of old sailing ships

by L. G. Carr Laughton (Leonard George Carr)

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Some of the Plates, which are added at the end of the book

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Remember that this book was published in 1925, and the way the drawings, sketches and photographs were presented, was for this time the best possible way.


Staff member
Dec 25, 2017

Vienna, Austria
For searching machines and also for easier use to find something I will step by step include here the Content of the book directly in posts



Its Form - The Beakhead Bulkhead - Tack Fairleads - Anchor Gear

Its Form – Galleries – Ornaments
Their Form – Ornament - The Finishings
The Wales - The Rails, Pavesades and Bulwarks - Hancing Pieces – Channels - Gun Ports - Entering Ports – Lights – Rigols – Chesstrees - Anchor Linings


The Earl of Warwick at Sea. Water-colour drawing by Cecil King, R.I., after drawings by John Rous, C. 1480 .
The " Phoenix " of 1613, and A Ship of Queen Elizabeth
Figure-heads of the " Prince Royal " of 1610 ; of a typical Dutch Man-of-War, mid-17th century ; and of H.M.S. " Centurion," 1745. By Cecil King, R.I.
The " Prins Willem " of 1651. By Cecil King, R.I.
A Fourth-Rate of George I. By Cecil King, R.I.
Elizabethan Gallions
An Elizabethan Gallion probably the " Ark Royal," 1587
Diagram showing styles of painting ship from the mid-17th to the mid-19th century. By Cecil King, R.I.

(At end of the book).

Stern and Quarter of the " Prince Royal " of 1610
The " Sovereign of the Seas," 1637
" Lions as they are in 1720 "
The " Royal Katherine " of 1664
The " Old James " in her Restoration form
Heads and Figure-heads of a Sloop of George I.; the "Princess Royal" of 1773; a 74-gun Ship of circa 1765 ; the " Royal Adelaide " of 1828
Heads and Figure-heads: from the Colbert Book, C. 1665; the " Terrible " of 1692; the " St. Louis " of 1721; “ t Wickelo “ of 1725
Heads and Figure-heads of the " Amaranthe " of 1654; the " Ary," Dutch East Indiaman, of 1725
Stern, Quarter and Head of H.M.S. " Victory " of 1765
Figure-head of H.M.S. " Victory " of 1765 ; Figure-head of H.M.S. " Victory " in 1815
H.M. King Edward VII. with carved works from H.M.Y. " Royal George " of 1817
Figure-heads of H.M.S. " Queen Charlotte " of 1810; H.M.S. " The Duke of Wellington " of 1852; H.M.S. " Royal Albert " of 1854 ; H.M.Y. " Victoria and Albert " of 1855
Design by P. Ozanne for the Figure-head of a Ship of the Line, circa 1800
Design by P. Ozanne for a Frigate's Figure-head, circa 1800
Figure-heads of H.M.S. " Trincomalee," 1817, now the Training-Ship " Foudrovant " at Falmouth; H.M.S. " Warrior," 1860
Designs for Clipper Ship Figure-heads, circa 186o, by the late A. P. Elder
Figure-heads and Ship Carvings at Tresco, Scilly Isles; Figure-head of the " Bencoolen " in Bude Church-yard; Tombstone Figure-head from Morwenstow Churchyard
Quarter of the French Frigate " Oiseau," circa 177o; Head of the " Monarque," 1747 ; Stern of the French Frigate " Danae," 1780; Figure-head of H.M.S. " Augusta," 1736
Stern of the " Sovereign of the Seas," 1637
Stern and Quarter of the " St. Michael " of 1669
Stern of the " Royal William " of 1719
Stern of the " Victory " of 1765
Stern of the " Princess Royal " of 1773
Sterns of H.M.S. " Atlas," 98 guns, launched 1782 ; the Spanish 8o-gun Ship " Fenix," launched 1749
Sterns of H.M.S. " Temeraire " in 1805 and H.M.S. " Victory " in 1805
Stern and Quarter of the " Paris " of 1668
Sterns of the " Eendracht " of 1664 and the “ Gouda “ of circa 1670
Stern of the " Hollandia " of 1664
Sterns of a Dutch Two-Decker, circa 1670, and a small Danish Two-Decker of circa 1680
Sterns of an Imperial Man-of-War of circa 167o; the " Neptunus " of 1803 ; a British Indian-built Frigate, circa 1809
Stern of the " Padmos," East Indiaman, of 1723
Stern and Quarter of the " Soleil Royal " of 1690
Sterns: From the Colbert Book: " Le Bon," 1693 ; the " St. Philippe " of circa 1690; the " Venus," early 18th century
Sterns and Quarters of the French " Temeraire,' 1759 a " 's Lands Schip," 1767
Sterns and Quarters of the French " Spartiate " of 1796; the French " Northumberland " of 178o
Sterns of a Spanish Two-Decker, early 18th century ; the " Real Carlos," of 112 guns, 1787
Sterns and Quarters of a Dutch Yacht, circa 168o ; Dutch Admiralty Yacht, circa 1750
Stern of a Galley : period, Louis XIV.
Quarter Galleries of: A. unnamed English Ship, Commonwealth period ; B. unnamed English Ship, believed to be the " Sovereign " in her Commonwealth form ; C. the " Bristol " of 1653 ; D. the "Old Tiger " of 1647 ; E. the " Royal Charles," ex " Naseby “ ; F. the Prince " of 1670
Quarter Galleries of an English 8o-gun Ship of the 1690 Act ; an English 7o-gun Ship of circa 1706 ; an English 70-gun Ship of circa 1720 ; the French Line-of-Battle Ship Ship “Triomphant “ of 1828
Quarter Galleries of the " Britannia, 1700 "; H.M.S. " Augusta " of 1736 ; the Spanish " Fenix " of 1749; H.M.S. " Royal Adelaide " of 1828
Sterns and Quarters of the " Briel," 1695 ; " 't Wickelo," 1725
Sterns and Quarters of the " Grana," Spanish Frigate, 1780; H.M.S. " Termagant," 178o ; the American Frigate " Raleigh," 1779
Quarters of a Galley of Louis XIV.; " La Venus," early 18th century ; the " Royal Louis," 1758
British Stern Gallery Bracket, circa 179o, in Portsmouth Dockyard Museum ; Quarter Gallery of the " Protecteur," 1757 ; Figure-head of a " Prisoner-of-War model," circa 1805
H.M.S. " Victory " of 1765
Stern and Head of H.M.S. " Tonnant," 1805
Design by P. Ozanne for the Head of a Line-of-Battle Ship, circa 1800
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Staff member
Dec 25, 2017

Vienna, Austria

Ornamental details of the Oseberg ship
Cathead-end from the " Prince " of 167o
Key drawing to illustrate details of the head and bows
Details of 17th century heads
English heads, 1670 to 1759
English heads, 1778 and 1796
English heads, 1815 and 1840
Quarter of the " Castor," 1828
Stem head carving, 167o
Details of French heads, 1690 to 1758
Dutch heads, quarters, and sterns, 18th century
French heads and figures, 1755 and 1785
French heads, 1760 to 1815
Details of English catheads
Dutch catheads
Cathead-end from the " Trincomalee," 1817
Early Figure-heads
Bows of a Breton carrack, 1510
English Lions
Figure-heads of the "Prince" of 1670 ; and "Phoenix," 1613
Figure-head of Balchen's " Victory," 1737
Figure-head of Kempenfelt's " Royal George," 1756
Figure-heads of the “ Queen Charlotte “ 1790; “ Nelson “ 1814; and “ Vanguard “ 1835
A French head and figure of the First Empire
Key Drawing to illustrate details of the stern and quarter gallery
Early stern decorations
Diagram of English sterns, 1637 to 1706
French 18th century sterns
Stern of the “ Adolf Frederick “ (Swedish), 1767
Quarter of the “ Norge “, and stern of the “ Princess Carolina “ 1807
Stern of the '' Christian VII.,'' 1807
Stern and quarter of a ship of Henry VIII., 1540
English stern-gallery terms, 1737 to 1802
English stern laterns
Dutch rudder-heads and tillers
Stern laterns chiefly French
Dutch stern laterns
Early Sterns and quarter-galleries
Diagram: the relation of early quarter-galleries to the decks
Diagram: English stern and quarter-galleries in plan18th century quarter badges
18th century quarter badges
Dutch quarter-galleries, 1696 to 1747
Quarters of the '' Duquesne, '' 1803; and '' Royal Frederick, '' 1841 ... ...
French round sterns, 19th century
Quarter-badge of a Dutch snow, 1768
English finishings, 18th century
English finishings, upper, side, and lower, 18th century
Key drawing to illustrate details of the broadside
Details of rails, 1755 to 1790
Rails and nettings of the '' Adolf Frederick, '' 1767
Square hances : English 1797 to 1820; French, c. 1800
English hancing pieces, 1618 to 1703
English hancing pieces, 17th century
English hancing pieces and rails, 1670 to 1730
Dutch hancing pieces
French hancing pieces
Miscellaneous broadside features: clench-work, pavesses and channels
Miscellaneous broadside details: wreath-ports and chess-trees
English gun-ports and rigols
Details of Dutch gun-ports and lights
French gun-ports
English entering-ports, 1670 to 1839
Entering place of the '' Mordaunt '' 1682
Dutch entering steps, early 19th century
English lights, 1655 to 1756
English lights, early 18th century
Broadside details, French
Chesstrees, English
Chesstrees, Dutch
Anchor linings, English, 1692 to 1780
Details from models in the Rijks Museum
Forecastle bulkhead of the '' Prince '' of 1670
English bitts, timber-heads, kevels and cleats
English belfries, 1670 to 1790
English belfries, 1719 and 1728
French belfries and timber-heads
Dutch belfries
Dutch timber-heads


Staff member
Dec 25, 2017

Vienna, Austria

Adolf Frederick, 1767 (Sw.)
Amaranthe, 1654 (Sw.)
Antelope, 1618
*Arc Royal, 1587
Ary, 1723 (Du.)
Atlas, 1782
Augusta, 1736
Barfleur, 1891
Belleisle, 1815
Bellerophon, 1824
Bertin, 1761 (Fr.)
Blenheim, 1801
Boeken Roode, 1732 (Du.)
Bon, 1690 (Fr.)
Briel, 1695 (Du.)
Britannia, 1682 54, 73,
*Britannia, 1700
*Britannia, 1719
Brunswick, 1790
Caledonia, 1808
Cambridge, 1755
Canada, 1759
Castor, 1832
Centurion, 1729
*Centurion, 1745
Charles Royal, 1660
Christian VII., 1807 (Da.)
*Chrictianus V., 1673 (Da.)
Constant Reformation, 1618
Constitution. 1812 (Amer.)
Cornwallis, 1815
Coronation, 1685
Courageux, 1796
Cruiser, 1732
Cumberland, 1710
Diane, c. 1800 (Fr.)
Dreadnought, 1801
Droits de l'homme, 1796 (Fr.)
Duquesne. t. 1803 (Fr.)
Edgar, 1774
Eendracht, c 1665 (Du.)
Espiegle, 1901
Fenix, 1749 (Sp.)
French Ruby. V. 1666
Genoa, t. 1814 (Fr.)
Gouda, r. 1670 (Du.)
Grana, t. 1780 (Sp.)
Guadeloupe, 1768
Henri Grace a Dieu, 1514
Hercules, t. 1797 (Du.)
Holigost, 1415
Hollandia. 1664 (Du.)
Howe, 1815
Marlborough, 1708
Mercurius, 1747 (Du.)
Monarque, t. 1747 (Fr.)
Mordaunt, 1682
Muiron, 1799
Namur, 1804
Naseby, 1655
Nelson, 1814
Norge, t. 1807 (Da.)
Norske Löve, 1634 (Da.)
Northumberland, 1780 (Fr.)
Oiseau, c. 1770 (Fr.)
Old James, 1633
Ossory, 1706
Padmos, 1725 (Du.)
Paris, 1668 (Fr.)
*Phoenix, 1613
Plymouth, yt., 1754
Pornpee, 1788 (Fr.)
Prince, 1670
Prince Royal, 1610
Prince of Wales, 1765
Princesa, 1730 (Sp.)
Princess Royal, 1773
Prins Willem, 1651 (Du )
Protecteur, 1757 (Fr.)
Queen, 1839
Queen Charlotte, 1790
Queen Charlotte, 1810
Rainbow, 1652
Raleigh, 1779 (Amer.)
Ramillies, 1748
Real Carlos, 1787 (Sp.)
Revenge, 1742
Royal Adelaide. 1828
Royal Albert, 1854
*Royal Anne, 1704
Royal Charles, 1673
Royal Frederick, 1841
Royal George, 1756
Royal George yt , 1817
*Royal James, 1675
*Royal James, 1671
Royal Katherine, 1664
Royal Louis, 1668 (Fr.)
*Royal Louis. 1758 (Fr.)
Royal Sovereign 1701
St. Andrew 1670 .,
St. George, 1701
St. George, 1840
St. Louis 1721 (Fr )
St. Michael, 1669
St. Philippe, 1690 (Fr.)
Santissima Trinidad. 1805 (Sp.)
Soleil Roval. 1690 (Fr )
Sovereign of the Seas. 1637
Spartiate. 1796 (Fr.)
*Tartar. 1734
Temeraire, 1755 (Fr.)
Temeraire, 1798
Terrible, 1692 (Fr.)
Trincomalee. 1817
*Triumph 1764
`t Wickelo, 1725 (Du.)
Venus, c. 1720 (Fr.)
Victory, 1665
Victory. 1737
Victory, 1765
Victory 1802
Victory 1814
Vigilant, 1774
Vriiheid, 1781 (Du.)
Washington, 1796 (Du.)
*West Friesland, 1683 (Du.)