One of the models is a half block model of the composite ship 'Maitland', length 183 ft, breadth 35 ft, depth 19 ft 6 in, Tonnage 1004 B. M. (The Famous Tea Clipper).
121 cm long. Estimate £400 - £600
The Maitland was a tea clipper built by William Pile, Sunderland. and launched December 2nd 1865. During her relatively short career of 9 years she sailed to Hong Kong, Shangai and Foochow and was wrecked on May 25th 1874 on a coral reef in the Huon Islands, New Caledonia on a voyage from Brisbane to Foochow.
The shipyard where she was built was owned by William Pile, a well respected British shipbuilder who was the first to introduce the Clipper class of ship to the river Wear in Sunderland. Amongst the ships built by William Pile was the ‘St Vincent’ and the redoubtable ‘City of Adelaide’.
Half block models were an important design and sales tool and were carved from a single block of wood. The shipbuilder would sit down with the prospective ship owner and the proposed half block model.
The model itself represented only the hull, from the sheer line to the keel. The model was also carved to the inside of planking. In other words, the dimensions of the model represented the size of the ship less the thickness of planking. This was done so that measurements taken from the model represented the outside dimensions of the frames. This was important in times when the hull planking could be as much a three to six inches thick or more.
Vertical marks would be made on the model, from sheer line to keel. These represented the locations of key frames. On a block model, strips of lead were bent to conform to the shape of the hull at one of the frame marks. These outlines were then transferred to a flat surface and the outline of the frame was expanded to full size and drawn on thin wood as templates.
Once the ship was finished, the half block model was often fastened to a piece of planking and hung on the office wall or presented to the ship owner. Models of clipper ship hulls are quite rare, as the designing and building of these ships was a very competitive process.