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Mark P

Early use of belaying pins

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Greetings fellow modellers;


Following on from several discussions on this forum,  concerning how widespread was the use of,  and when was the introduction of belaying pins,  I believe that the following information will be of interest to many.  At least to anyone considering using some pins on a model,  perhaps in the ends of the bitts cross-member,  where I have occasionally seen them depicted.


I have recently been re-reading my copy of the Sea Watch Books volume on the first and second rate models in the Rogers Collection at Annapolis.


The second model dealt with here is the 'Saint George' of 1701,  a 94 or 96 gun second rate.  The model is believed to show her in around 1702,  as it has the cipher of both William lll,  who died in that year,  and Queen Anne,  who succeeded him.


The most remarkable thing about this model is that it has the oldest (according to the book,  anyway) set of complete contemporary rigging known on any dockyard model,  making the rigging over 300 years old.


Anyway,  clearly shown on the rail atop the beakhead bulkhead on this vessel are eight belaying pins,  looking just like any of the later belaying pins featured on younger models.  The end of at least one can clearly be seen hanging below the rail.


I have not seen this on any other model.  Would this constitute the earliest example,  or does anyone know of an earlier one.


All the best,


Mark P

donrobinson and thibaultron like this

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Check the Wasa... I believe that she had them also, but I could be wrong.  Billings had them in kit and were, at the time, making changes to model regularly based on the research.  

Mark P, donrobinson and thibaultron like this

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I would quite frankly be amazed if belaying pins were not really very ancient indeed.  Might be worth while looking at egyptian or viking boats


Yep just did a quick check here is a reference to Greek boats



quoting "each line about its smooth pin "


I am sure there will be many others

Edited by SpyGlass

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Thanks everyone for your replies.


I had a feeling that there was some scepticism shown in earlier posts on this subject,  about the use of belaying pins before the mid 1700s.  Without doubt they became much more widely used around the later 1700s,  but it is good to know that the Greeks used them.  That does indeed make them pretty ancient.


All the best,


Mark P

donrobinson, jud and mtaylor like this

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