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Bottled Ship Builder

Mini SIB "Salesman's Sample"-R.M.S. Titanic


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Hello once again everyone!

Along with the Edmund Fitzgerald, I'm also working on making a mini-SIB mode of the RMS Titanic, partly to win an informal wager (i.e. just for bragging rights) about just how small a bottle I can put a ship or a boat in, but also in the spirit of the old-fashioned saleman's sample. Back in the old days, before TV or even radio, nevermind the internet, it was common for traveling salesmen to carry around little models, often highly detailed, of the products they made to show to their customers to give them an idea of what exactly was being sold and how it worked. In fact, that's how one of the big names in plastic model kits, Airfix, got its start, by making a salesman's sample of the then-new "little grey Fergie" Ferguson tractor.

I've seen examples of virtually every kind of product imaginable made as a sample, from furniture and clothing items such as shoes, appliances such as sewing machines and typewriters small enough to fit in your hand but still able to sew or type, farm machinery, windmills, kit-built full sized buildings, even cutaway livestock (made by a meat packing firm to show both the internal organs and the various cuts of meat), the list goes on, so I got to thinking, why not a sample ship in a bottle?

After all, I tend to get asked what I do as a profession on a fairly regular basis (what I'd like to know is why it's so important to know what a person does for a living, after all, we're more than just our jobs), so I got to thinking what if I had a tiny SIB I could whip out of my pocket whenever the subject comes up and say, "I make these, just in bigger bottles"? I think it'd certainly make an impression!

As for the subject for my revival of the salesman's sample, I decided to go with a ship I've done several times before, and thus know almost like the back of my hand, the RMS Titanic, which I'll be putting into a minuscule liqueur bottle I literally found lying on the side of the road. It's certainly tiny, I doubt you could a pair of grapes into it, and as such I've had to a do a bit of selective compression in regards to the detail level of the model, though I will be giving it an honest effort to try and put all the usual detail parts on such as smoke, flags, ancors+chains, and the lifeboats and their davits, etc, and be as faithful to the prototype as my other Titanic models have been. At present, it's about 50% complete , and I'm hoping to get the rest of it done as I work on both this model and the model of the Fitz.

Not the smallest SIB ever built, but it's the tiniest I've ever made, and I think it'll make a good sample.


Brendan O.

(P.S. The pencil is included as a size reference)




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Well not really, I'd never really heard of Fuller Brush Co. until you mentioned them. Mostly what peaked my interest in the traveling salesman's miniatures/models was watching Antiques Roadshow and similar programs on PBS and the BBC, every so often they have saleman's miniatures featured getting appraised or just telling a bit about the history of them, and I was always struck with how wonderfully intricate and detailed they were, and the sheer diversity of the kinds of models that were made.

That, and as I mentioned, I tend to get asked a lot what I do for a living, and it's not always practical to go carting a full-sized SIB around with me. I thought I'd revive the practice of the saleman's miniature in my own small way so I have something to show whenever I get asked that question, and confirm that yes, it is entirely possible to put a ship or a boat in a bottle no matter how big or how small the bottle may be.

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