Jump to content
Bottled Ship Builder

Help with identification

Recommended Posts

Hello my name is Thomas. I live in Austin Tx. I have been a fan of ships in bottles since one that has been in my family for longer than I have , was passed down to me.

I am reaching out to the group on my his formum to ask for any help that can be given me with any info on this piece. I would love to know more about it, and this seemed like the perfect place to ask.

Unfortunately the story of its history has been lost to my family down the years. Any help is appreciated

Best - Thomas







Link to comment
Share on other sites

The first clue is the bottle itself. If you can find the age of the bottle it's a close indicator of the age of the ship in bottle. Check out this link. https://sha.org/bottle/dating.htm#Question1 Looking at it I think it falls under question three.  There is horizontal (if the bottle was standing up) lines along the bottle that indicate it was made in a turn mold.  The website says most bottles made from turn molds date from 1880 to 1915.   This confirms my first impression that this is a really old ship in bottle. At least early 1900's. The older ships in bottles generally didn't have sails on them. That technique is more common in the 1910's and on from what I've seen.  I would also look into the buildings in the scene. Particularly the lighthouse. A old ship in bottle I purchased depicted a scene of Devon England confirmed by the lighthouse and the windmill. If we can find what light house that is and learn about the structures around it we might be able to tell what the builder was trying to depict. The names on the ship may or may not tell us more. It's possible they depicit the name of the actual ship. It's also possible it's the name of the builder. The flags may tell a lot too. There a lot to go on. I'll need to spend some time on google.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4-masted bark rig very similar to the Russian ship Kruzenshtern (formerly Padua) shown in the attached photo pair.  The background has, to my eye, a Mediterranean appearance — perhaps Malta, Cyprus, or the eastern region... Alexandria/Suez Canal?  The apparent palm trees along with the windmill (and granaries?) seems an odd mix.  The steam tug may be more useful in identifying location than the ship's name.


What does the model & scene look like from the other side?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Given the large punt, the bottle probably had red wine...though some old brandy bottles have them as well.  Punts collect the sediment in wine. Looks like an European wine bottle.  The blue/white/red stripes flag is the old Yugoslavian flag from 1918 to WWII.   Am wondering if it was mounted upside down...which is the flag of the Netherlands.  With the detailed diorama which includes a windmill, that may be it.  Flags on the foremast are called "courtesy flags" which honor the port the ship is coming into.  National flags are typically on the aft-most mast...which looks the same as the courtesy.  The other flags on the main & mizzen typically are for the ship's owners pennant.  Flags are aged, so it is difficult to make out the colors.  Base looks like a sealant putty/glazing similar to plumber's putty.  Definitely European made item.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The vessel is a four masted barque with double topsails, topgallants and royals. It isn't a jubilee rig with double topsails and double topgallants because the upper two yards would usually be close together like the topsail yards when the sails are furled. It is likely not German-built because it doesn't have the two gaffs on the mizzen that can be seen on the Kruzenshtern (ex-Padua) unless it was built before the German ship builders began using the double mizzen gaffs. Here's a photo of the Glasgow built Earl of Dunsmore which is much more like the model than the Kruzenshtern.



Earl of Dunsmore (1891 - 1917, sunk by German sub)



Jubilee rigged Bannockburn (1886, re-rigged as barque in 1894, sold and renamed Leif Gundersen 1915, captured

by the French and re-named Atlas 1917, sunk same year by German sub). Notice the difference between this

jubilee rig (double topsails and double topgallants) and the model with double topsails, topgallants and royals.


The interrupted black and white stripe shown on the Earl of Dunsmore was not uncommon. Most of the photos of similarly painted vessels show black above the deck line, the interrupted black and white stripe, a narrow black border stripe and light gray below to the waterline. This basic paint scheme was not exclusive to any one company. 



Six "Lochs" of the Loch Line in the Victoria Dock, Melbourne, Christmas 1907.

From left:  Loch Etive, Loch Broom, Loch Garry, Loch Katrine, Loch Carron, Loch Torridon


Obviously this pattern only partially matches the paint scheme on the model. I have not found a photo of a ship with the interrupted stripe and narrow lower border stripe on an all white hull like the model. Of course, that does not mean that one or several did not exist. Also, paint schemes frequently changed during the life of a vessel especially with changes in owners.


The abbreviated name on the barque (Emmi.) seems strange, but, with the name on the tug (Heinrich[?] as near as I can tell), suggests the builder's name (Emmi Heinrich) rather than names of the two vessels. Searching the name strongly suggests female, perhaps a loved one of the builder. I can't clearly see the flags at the peaks of the 2nd and 3rd masts - are they the letters 'E' and 'H'?


The builder seems to have been at least moderately familiar with how such a vessel was rigged with the braces routed correctly and other details also correct as far as I can determine.


The short cork and short straight section at the mouth suggests a brandy rather than a wine bottle. Wine bottles usually have a longer straight section to provide a seal with a longer cork. 


It looks like there is some red substance on the neck just at the bottom of the cork. Perhaps this bottle was sealed with wax upon completion, now gone with time and handling.


POWs held in England were well treated during both World Wars and often made extra spending money by building ship models and SiBs, more so during the First than the Second. Perhaps an ancestor stationed in England during or shortly after one of those wars purchased this from a POW. Some research into family history may reveal ancestor(s) who may have purchased this while in the service or who immigrated to the US. Given Daniel's good guesstimate of the bottle age, WWI seems most likely.


The lighthouse, if this is a scene from an actual place and the lighthouse is reasonably accurate, may give a clue to the port. It would take a photo by photo search of lighthouses to find possible matches.


Good luck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for the help. The time estimate of 19'teens makes sense. It was brought to Texas by my Grandmothers, brother, who was a merchant mariner around and after that time, eventually bringing it back to Texas as gift for his sister.  As to where all he traveled, those stories are long ago lost, as is everyone who knew him.


I am sorry the pictures posted upside down, and for the quality. Im quite sure there is a correct way to photograph a SIB, apparently an IPAD is not it.


I am going to try and get some better photos taken of particular fine points mentioned in the replies.  Flags, Light house, back ground buildings, letters, etc. And will do a better job of getting those posted.


If anything pops out as interesting, please pass on to me. Otherwise just enjoy what was obviously someone's talented work and passion.


Again, thank you all for taking the time to respond. If only this damn thing could talk, or at least carried a written log!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...