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The painting of a 17th century ships hull


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I did a forum search but did not find an answer that addressed my specific question.


I am building a model of a late 17th century English/American colony merchant vessel, and wondered what would've been the correct treatment for the ship's hull.  I doubt that it was coppered, but might've it been perhaps painted or treated with some sort of anti-rot coating?  If so, what would be an accurate color to paint the hull?   Also, I assume that being just a humble merchant vessel, there would have been very little or no use of any bright or vibrant colors topside.    All the better to hide from French naval vessels of the period (King William's War).


Thanks.    :cheers:

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A regular merchant ship would not have been decorated in any way. The underwater body may have been coated with 'white stuff' (a cream color), 'brown stuff' or 'black stuff'.

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There used to be a color in the Floquil line of paints named "Antique White". This color was, in my opinion, perfect for that "dirty" white that used to be painted below the waterline. Don't use "pure" white. Add a few drops of brown, green, yellow or even gray to the white paint to make it look more authentic.


Hope this helps.


Edit: Floquil paints, unfortunately, are no longer available.

Edited by Ulises Victoria

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Not quite sure what type of ship you refer to.

The early colonist ships had some colour. Not too much in terms of elaborate carving, but some patters. (look ege at Susan Constant)

I guess that in the colonies, the samepractoce was used as in Europe: no wood (except the decks) was left untreated, with either some natural tar (Stockholm tar), or brown paint.



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Perhaps some clarification is indeed due.  Good ol' ancestry.com would have me believe that one of my ancestors was a ship's captain that operated a merchant vessel between the Colonies and the Mother Country in the mid to late 17th century.  Incidentally - would've the title "Master and Commander" been appropriate for a captain of a merchant vessel, or is this strictly a title for a military officer?


The captain's name was John Selleck and the ship in question was named "Brother's Adventure".   According to what information I have obtained from the internet, he and his ship disappeared in the year 1689 while attempting to make a transit to England with a cargo of Virginia tobacco.   King William's War (1688 - 1699) was in full swing, and it is thought that he and his ship were captured by the French.  In any case, he and the Brothers Adventure were never heard from again.   I thought that it would be nice to make a model in tribute to a long lost Great Grandfather.


I was wanting to make a model of a ship that might come close to approximating the shape and design of Brother's Adventure.   Having absolutely NO experience working in wood, I bought the Revell 1/83 scale plastic model of the Mayflower, hoping to convert it into a acceptable example of a merchantman of the period.   I know of no other plastic ship model from that time period which could stand in for a merchant vessel - would anyone else have a suggestion?   Would the flags supplied with the plastic Mayflower kit be appropriate for the year 1689 I wonder?


Thanks for the responses.  Perhaps I'll add a splash or two of muted color topside, but will be sure not to overdue it.   It was war time after all.    :10_1_10:

Edited by silverfoxes
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Bottom color as others have said, though probably not white stuffe as it was the most expensive.  Topsides with one or two coats of pine tar mix, a nice honey golden color.

The one flag not flown would be the Union flag, as it had become reserved to the Navy.  St. George and red ensign with St. George in the canton should be OK.

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I looked up on the Web, and got the following information for the color values for Floquils Antique White:


  Name # Antique White
  Product # F110085
  HTML # F1E8D6
  CMYK # 5, 7, 15, 0
  RGB # 241, 232, 214



This may be useful to someone. A paint store may be able to get you a swatch to use as a comparison for mixing your own.

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t the following site they have a converson chart for Floquil to other manfg. paints. This site says Vallejo Ivory matches the Floquil Antique White.



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