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Bob B.

Inherited Young America model, need advice on possibly selling or proper storage

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Hi All,

Recently had to help my parents sell their house and they gave me a wooden model ship “The Young America” that I always had admired since I was a boy.  They had it in a sealed case in a beautiful custom cabinet with a light inside.  My great grandfather had built the model back in the 1920’s.  I don’t know if it’s scratch-built or a kit or how much it’s worth.  Unfortunately, my wife doesn’t like it because it doesn’t quite go anywhere in our house.  I was going to package and store it for a while, but now I’m thinking of selling it.  Just don’t know how much it’s worth.  Was hoping someone in the forum could give me some ideas on how to appraise and sell.  I added some pics.  The ship measures 60”L x 39”H x 16”W and is affixed to a wooden stand.

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You have a nice model there, much nicer than what we usually see. I'm going to venture out on a limb here, though, and say that your model is probably not worth a lot of money, mainly because it does not appear to be built to the standards that collectors and deep-pocketed buyers are willing to pay big bucks for. There are others in this group who are better qualified than I to confirm that this is actually the case or not.

 

Selling your model is complicated by the fact that clipper models are extremely common in the mass-produced nautical decor market, and they can be had in varying shades of quality starting at around $100 and on up to nearly a grand. Unfortunately, this dilutes the value of your model for anyone just looking for a nice decoration. You might have to list it for a ridiculously low price to move it quickly.

 

I have two suggestions. The first, seriously, is to convince your wife to find room in her heart for it. If I had a model built by my great-grandfather, it would be priceless. Second suggestion, if your wife insists that it must go, is to find an antique store near you that will take it on consignment. You get your space, you don't have to track down a buyer, and you might get a little money. Actually, if you still have the custom case, that might be worth as much or more than the model.

 

But honestly, that's a pretty nice model, and it has personal history for you. I'd look for a way to hang on to it.

 

Kind regards,

Chris

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Thanks Chris!  Greatly appreciate your feedback.  I’m now thinking about renovating our basement and possibly setting up a display case for it.  However, this will take some time... and money!

 

The display case that my dad had the model in was a permanent custom built-in job.  This leads me to my next issue of how to package and protect the ship until we can sell or display it.  Can’t find any cardboard box big enough anywhere.  Thinking of building a custom cardboard box for it.  Anything more extravagant I think would cost too much.  Any ideas of how to protect it would also be greatly appreciated.

 

Kind Regards,

Bob B.

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Chris is 'on the money' with his comments.  Potential buyers don't give a hoot about great grandad but you do, and that cannot be priced.

 

The model is nicely made and shows well.  If you MUST sell her, I suggest you seek a professional such as Fiddlers  Green in NJ (I have no connection).

 

As for a box, furniture and appliance stores have large boxes for the asking,       Best regards, Duff

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Your model is in great condition because it has been stored in a controlled environment for many years. To keep it looking good, you will need to approximate those conditions, even though you're just storing it. However you choose to store it, you'll need to protect it as much as possible from direct sunlight, dust, accidental bumps, humidity, and big temperature swings. If you decide to box it, a packing crate built to the correct size is preferable to a cardboard box. We have members here with experience in such things; I will edit your topic title to try to get them to chime in. 

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Thank you Chris and Richard!

 

Very glad I joined the forum.  Went to the local Home Depot to ask for any remnant cardboard and was informed that they bundle and sell it!  Could try elsewhere I guess.  Very nervous about the ship being out in the open now on my pool table.

 

I am planning on getting into model ship building as soon as I retire, but that's a few years away.  Used to love building all kinds of models when I was a kid.

 

Thanks again and if anyone else has any other ideas or comments, please feel free to chime in!

 

Kind Regards,

Bob

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I agree with the comments above.  The value in a model like yours is to keep your great grandfather’s memory alive with future generations.  I have two such models that my father built and although their commercial value is $0 they hold pride of place in my collection.  Hopefully one of my grandchildren will someday ask “who was the guy who built this?”

 

Storage is a problem.  You need to protect the model from three enemies: physical damage, dust, and dampness.  I therefore do not recommend a cardboard box.  A custom made plywood storage case would be best.  If the model is small enough you might be able to find a molded plastic storage tub with a tight fitting lid.  Make sure that the base of the model is securely fastened to the base of the storage case.

 

Roger

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Thanks Roger!

 

Could not find a storage bin large enough.   Was thinking of building box with plywood.  If so, wondering if I should fill inside with some type of foam or bubble wrap.

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Beautiful model. Just think, when your great grandfather built that model, the ship had only been gone 40 years or less. Almost contemporary for his time. $86,000 dollars was a fortune to have earned on the first voyage as stated by placard. Amazing history in several ways.

As for a box, I would consider building myself a wooden frame, perhaps from 1" x 2" or similar, then covering the frame with 3/8" or 1/4" plywood. Cardboard is too flimsy if you plan to store it that way for a long while. Just my opinion of course.  

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Bob, another option to consider is if you have a local Maritime Museum consider a permanent loan or even donation. The reason I say that is because our local Museum here in Morro Bay, CA is looking for me to build them a ship which may be a sister to yours the South American that also worked the San Francisco trade route. Where are you located?

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Hi Ken,

 

Funny, that's what my mother suggested. I live on Long Island, NY and have not looked into that possibility yet.  However, being by the ocean, I'm sure there's some maritime museums around.  Still undecided about what to do though.  Thinking of boxing it up for now until I make a decision.

 

Thanks!

 

Kind Regards,

Bob

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Hi CDW,

 

I am finding out that the placard with my ship is not your standard type.  Usually I see a brass or some other type with ship name and a little blurb about it (ship name, date, built by, etc.).

 

Agree with you that cardboard is too flimsy.  Have to go with something sturdier.

 

Thanks for your advice!

 

Kind Regards,

Bob

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If you're going to build a box and use framing at the corners all around, instead of plywood all around consider clear polycarbonate (plexiglass) on at least one side.  At least then where ever you put it until a case can be made, you and your family/guests will be able to see it.  I did that for model I didn't have room to display in a case so I made the box and hung it on the wall of the workshop for years.   

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Hi mtaylor,

 

That idea is very interesting.  I like it!  Will definitely consider it.  

 

Thank you!

 

Kind Regards,

Bob

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I have volunteered for many years for a local very low budget museum that seeks to preserve the world’s only example of a steamship of “whaleback” design.  The hold of the ship is used for exhibit space. The ship has been a museum since 1972 and for much time since then people who had maritime artifacts that they did’nt want gave them to the museum.  As a result the vessel’s hold was filled with “stuff” much of which had no relationship to the whaleback type ship.  

 

Over time the museum has come under the management of more professional curators who increasingly realize that this accumulation of non-related stuff detracts from the overall experience of the visiting public.  For years I have been encouraging them to hold a garage sale but a lot of things are surprisingly hard to get rid of.  To be responsible they feel that they need to see if there were any strings attached to the gift before it can be disposed of.  Museums today are therefore unwilling to accept artifacts unrelated to the story that they are trying to tell.

 

If you want to donate the model you will have to find a museum that is specifically looking for a vessel built by William H. Webb.  Try contacting Webb Institute.  They are in Glen Cove.

 

Roger

 

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You should certainly keep the model.

A plywood base and a frame made from furring strips. Use steel corner braces and drill for 1/4" flat head bolts. No glue.

Cover the frame with 4/6 mil vapor barrier.  Have some vent holes.  The frame can then be covered with hardboard or peg board.

Use screws and when your domestic situation changes and you are able to display the ship, the container can be easily disassembled

and the the components repurposed..

 

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Also, make sure that the model is secure on its base and the base is secured to the bottom of the protective case. The best thing to protect the model inside is air space, not foam or bubble wrap! (You might need foam wedges underneath the hull to prevent sideways movement.) And don't forget to prominently label the case Fragile! This Way Up!

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If your model was built in the 1920's it certainly was a very well done model for its time. The standards have risen over the years and the speed of that has accelerated in the last few decades as miniature machine tools, computer numeric control machining, and other technological advances have found their way into model-making. Considering the tools and materials your great-grandfather had to work with to build that model, he must have been a very accomplished model-maker.

 

It appears that it may have been an early kit model. Ship modeling was a very popular hobby in the last century up to WWII, which was a bit of a distraction, to say the least. Thereafter, television reared its ugly head and men started sitting on their butts and watching TV after work every evening. That put a major dent in the modeling hobby. The advent of injection molded styrene plastic models breathed some life into modeling generally in the 1950's, but by then it was mainly a pastime for kids. Serious adult modeling seems to be making something of a comeback in the last decade or two, perhaps encouraged by the internet which opened access to the research and information necessary, and the availability of on-line retailers for what would otherwise be a smaller market that would not be well-served by "brick and mortar" hobby shops. For these reasons, I would consider your model to have some historical interest from the standpoint of it's being an excellent example of an early kit-built model. You may want to inquire of Bluejacket Shipcrafters whether it is one of their early models. They would know more about it if they could identify it as one of theirs. ttp://www.bluejacketinc.com/

 

Please do read the posts about packing models that are here in this forum.  PLEASE, do not put it in a box full of packing peanuts or other such material. That is a sure way to damage the rigging. Packing a finished rigged model for shipping is a rather delicate procedure. A model such as this one, if it is to last, should be kept in a proper case and displayed out of direct sunlight and damp air. In the meantime, you can carefully cover it with one of those light plastic bags that the dry cleaners use to cover clothing. Cut the bag open and drape the bag over the model. This plastic material is light enough not to damage the model and it will keep the dust off of it.

 

As everybody has said, models of Young America are quite common and you should not expect to get big money for it. It's still a beautiful model and the fact that it's an heirloom makes it valuable to you and your family. Imagine if you cased it and were able to pass it down to your son. What a wonderful thing to be able to say, "My great-great-grandfather made this."

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Bob:

At 5 feet long overall, I doubt this was a kit, even an old one. While anything is possible, kits are generally not that large. 

 

Russ

 

 

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3 hours ago, russ said:

Bob:

At 5 feet long overall, I doubt this was a kit, even an old one. While anything is possible, kits are generally not that large. 

 

Russ

 

 

Ooops! I overlooked that little detail. No, I'd say it wasn't a kit model in that case. :D :D :D 

 

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Sounds like it is museum scale -1/4":1'.    You sorta haveta live in a mansion to display a model of a ship that was that large at that scale.

Furring strips will not be overkill.  If you use plywood instead of 1/8" hardboard or pegboard,  it gets heavy .  As it is, adding some sort of wheels to the base would make things easier for you.  With pegboard, it can double as a rolling tool holder.

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Thanks to all for taking the time to provide me with valuable recommendations!

 

The closer I look at the model, the more I think it may be scratch-built, but I really don't know for sure.  I will attempt to expand my knowledge of the model and model ship building and reach out to some of the links that were so kindly provided by some forum members.

 

For now, I covered the model with light weight plastic - Thanks Bob C.

 

Will begin to plan building a storage crate for it too.  I like the idea of putting wheels on the bottom too - Thanks Jaager.

 

Thank you everyone and happy model ship building!

 

Kind Regards,

Bob

 

 

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To help with your search,  the lines and spar and sail plans for Young America are a part of the folio of plans  done by William H. Webb.  If a library close to where your ancestor lived had the folio or he lived close enough to the Webb Institute, that could explain where he got the plans.  The deck details would have to come from another source.  The ship is 235 feet deck length or  4.9 feet long @ 1:48 just for the hull before the spars were added.  I doubt that any kit manufacturer would have been mad enough to produce a product of this size.  Most seem to have some idealized mantel piece length and adjust their model's scale to fit that length.   A serious amount of lumber would have been needed to produce the hull.

You have both a gem and something of a white elephant.  It also represents and serious expenditure of both time and skill on the part of your forebearer.

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Thanks Jaager,

 

I learned that my great grandfather lived in NYC and then moved to Ramsey, NJ later on.  According to my dad who is 88 now, his grandfather was in the Navy or Merchant Marine, but he wasn't sure.  Also, he was some sort of a master builder/carpenter.  He had built his own home in NJ.  My dad is also 99.9% sure that the model was scratch-built and took about 2 years to build.  Of course we have no way of knowing how much time was actually dedicated on a daily basis.

 

Kind Regards,

Bob

 

 

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I don’t believe that anyone has mentioned it but Ed Tosti is building what should be the definitive model of Young America on this site.  Look for his posts under the scratch built models section.

 

Roger

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Hi Roger,

 

I saw some of Ed’s work thus far.  Absolutely amazing!  Can’t wait to see the finished model!

 

thanks!

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BlueJacket's kit of the Young America was 39 inches long, at a scale of 1/8" = 1'

 

It was discontinued around 1980.

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Does anyone reading this thread recall a build of a clipper in Seaways Ships of Scale magazine a few years ago?

I think it may have been Young America, and I think the builder was Jim Raines?  It was a large model and had some of the interior

exposed.

 

( Just reminiscing .. )

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