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Bottled Ship Builder

Cape Cod SIB Finds

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My personal SIB collection remained at three for a long time: one I found, one that was a gift and one I built from a kit. One day about ten years ago I was on a fishing trip on Cape Cod when I wandered into a gas station cum tackle store to buy some hooks. I don’t remember how I ended up in a back room of the store but in this room was a large collection of ship models in various states of repair. Some of them were in cases, some were in pieces and some had price tags on them. I could tell that this was a collection from a serious builder who apparently was some relationship to the couple who owned the store. I remember picking up a business card but it has long been lost. I think the builder was located in Newport, Mass. but I’ve lost the name. Among this collection was a lone SIB that I recognized in to be inside a real Haig & Haig bottle. Without hesitation I purchased the model for an uncontested ask of $15.00. At the time I thought it was very neatly done but now that I look at it closely I see a lot of machine-made prefabrication: printed sails and a paper appliqué type siding on the hull. It has a neat obliviously machine made “Bluenose” name plate inside. It still has a nice look to it and doesn’t look as cheap as the “overseas” manufactured plastic bottle things. It almost looks like somebody took a kit model ship and put it in an authentic Haig & Haig bottle. I never found that shop again or any online information about the name I had. I think the builder is deceased and some of the models ended up in an art gallery that went defunct and is now a real estate office that has one of the larger models in a window collecting dust.

My other Cape Cod find was from an antique shop in Provincetown. I found a lone SIB that was very nicely done and obviously handmade. It’s a Gloucester fishing vessel, almost a dead ringer for the “Elsie” model I have recently finished, housed in a green glass magnum wine bottle which doesn’t detract from its appearance. Considering most of the poor examples and cheap imitation SIB’s I usually find, I didn’t mind paying $40.00 for it. It was obviously made by someone who knew what they were doing. It has neat deck furnishing and non-hinged masts glued in place after insertion. The hull and furnishing look so neat that I almost suspect some pre-fabrication. The sail cloth looks like the sail cloth that came in my 1970’s vintage SIB kits. So, it could be a kit build that was upgraded to a nicer bottle with a green putty sea.  

That’s about the extent of the models I’ve purchased. I really don’t want to collect other people’s work unless I can find some top-notch build for a bargain. I have a collection of materials and I just needed some incentive to start building my own again and just do it for my own amusement.





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Thanks! The Gloucester Fishing vessel very much impressed me but I don't know how someone could produce such fine detail by hand. Even the tiny fishing dories are hollowed out. The ship is a bit  "too perfect " and is incongruous with the weird choice of a wine bottle and coarse putty sea. 

Thanks for the comment on my photography. I'm an advanced amateur photographer and understand lighting. I use a semi pro DSLR, no flash and a polarizing filter to reduce some glare. I have a home made shadow box I use for other purposes as well. A little clean up in post helps too. 

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You and my dad would have a lot of fun talking.  He has an old camera collection.  I know he has at least one or two old Brownie's.  I only ever shot in 35mm and digital.  I still have my Cannon SLRs.  Its a great hobby.  Actual developing is a true art.  Growing up in the days of one hour photo I don't know that many in my generation understand all that goes into it.   

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