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Bottled Ship Builder

Dating My Ship in a Bottle

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Greetings fellow ship nerds! I inherited my family's ship in the bottle and I could really use some assistance dating the piece. It's been in my family for at least 5 generations, but I have little family history other than my great grandfather brought it from Ireland around the turn of the century. There are 25 sails and four flags-the top and most identifiable being the Fa signal flag T or 3 (could also be french flag, but doubtful), I believe signal flag 1, Signal Flag B, and maybe 4. Does this have meaning? Regrettably I do not have pictures of the pontil, as the ship is at my office which is under quarantine. 

So again primary questions-


Wood Material?

Ship information?

Care and Preservation?

Value (insurance purposes)?















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I looked up the name carved into the stand. Wikapedia says "Faugh a Ballagh is a battle cry of Irish origin, meaning "clear the way". The spelling is an 18th-century anglicisation of the Irish language phrase Fág an Bealach, also written Fág a' Bealach. Its first recorded use as a regimental motto was by the 87th Regiment of Foot in 1798."

Looking at the shamrocks, I'd say there was a definite Irish connection. I have found a dredger,  a barge and a paddlesteamer of that name referenced on the web.

1798 is also carved into the stand, so there may be a connection to a ship or the regiment. 

The clipper ship style, to me anyway, seems to be from later on in the clipper ship era. I stand by to be corrected.


Edited by exwafoo
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I  looked up this regiment. They were also known as The Prince of Wales  87th Regiment of Foot.. In 1881 they amalgamated with the 89th  (Princess Victoria´s ) Regiment of Foot to become the Royal Irish Fusiliers. This ship was probably used as a troopship as during the eighteenth century this regiment was deployed in many overseas roles.   The 89 on the stand could  mean the year.  The Royal Irish Fusiliers were known as the ´Faughs´.



Edited by Bernard Kelly
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I'm going to repost what I had posted in the Facebook group.  That way it's in both places. 

 I did a little digging into the the bottle style. It appears to be mouth blown with a burst off method used on the bottle neck. This was an inexpensive European method of making bottles from 1890 to 1920. They were popular as ink and sauce bottles in Britain. The oldest this bottle could be is 1890. Its very likely your great grandfather bought it in new or nearly new condition around or before 1920.


Care and preservation I'd say keep it out of direct sunlight. The sun can dry up and thread especially magnified by the glass. This will eventually break the lines. The bottle would need occasional dusting and very occasional glass cleaning. Nothing crazy there. You'd have to look into what to use on the old wood. I don't know what would be best.

Value is tough. The ship in bottle itself is easily $350 or more given its age and great condition. I think the original wood adds a lot of value to that as well but I don't know how much. Its definitely a unique and rare piece. I think $900 is easily a reasonable value. It could be more.

I wish I could give more info on the ship. Its a generic French clipper very prominent at the time. Who ever built it was familiar with ships. They may have sailed on the ship which would tie the Irish heritage and French ship together. Who knows. The rigging and general dimensions are accurate. The masts and yards are thick for scale but that was a very normal method of building at the time.

It's a beautiful piece. Your family has taken great care of it thus far.


 I did some digging on the flags too. They appear to spell CBF. The C and B were in use in 1922 and prior but the F was changed in 1922 according to this source.


That does confirm the ship is at least older than 1922.



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