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The Rogers Collection of Dockyard Models, Volume I

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Hello all,


Many good things have already been stated concerning this excellent book.  I hope you don't mind if I add a few more.




The Rogers Collection of Dockyard Models

At the U.S. Naval Academy Museum

First & Second Rates

Volume I

by Grant H. Walker


Distributed by: Sea Watch Books, LLC, Florence, Oregon

www.seawatchbooks.com, seawatchbooks@gmail.com


In his opening remarks, the author, Grant Walker, states that it took eleven years to assemble the information that is the basis for The Rogers Collection of Dockyard Models, Volume I, and the several future volumes that are planned.  There is no doubt that from the naval historian’s and ship modeler’s perspective, it was well worth the wait!

   In this initial volume, Walker describes, in detail, the results of his research on the seven Royal Navy three-decker 1st and 2nd rate ships contained in the collection.  These models represent vessels that served from the mid 17th century into the 19th century, and, needless to say, they are magnificent!


   This is the first comprehensive study of Roger’s models since 1946, when the Naval Academy published a pamphlet outlining the entire collection.  Revised editions were printed on four occasions, but only the photographic content was changed.  In every case, the illustrations were in black and white.

   In what will be the standard approach for all the volumes in this series, each featured model is described in detail, along with its provenance, and a brief history of the actual ship or class that the model represents.  Every segment begins with a table that offers comparisons between the dock yard model and the vessel the model represents.  In some cases, the Establishment applicable to the model’s period of representation, is incorporated into the tables.

   The first model discussed is the impressive First Rate, Britannia, 100 guns (1682/1700).  Walker immediately adds intrigue by stating that there is considerable reason to doubt whether this model is actually Britannia.  He offers compelling reasons why this may be the case, in spite of the many visual elements that compare favorably with contemporary images, and the ship’s name appearing above the topgallant roundhouse entrance.


As is the case with the other models in this book, a detailed construction analysis is provided.  It includes CT scans, X-rays and numerous below-deck photos taken with an arthroscope.

   The next model presented by Grant Walker is the Second Rate St. George, 90 guns (1701).  Although comparable to Britannia in terms of guilt ornamentation, it is the model’s remarkable suite of original masts, yards and rigging that set this Second Rate apart from other contemporary dockyard pieces, including those featured in this book.  Nevertheless, Walker opts to concentrate on the actual ship’s history, as well as the model’s provenance, and construction details, which feature numerous below deck photos.


   Several excellent illustrations of the St. George’s rigging, accompanied by brief descriptions, are provided, but Walker prefers to defer to the two classic works by Dr. R. C. Anderson, for those interested in learning more about warship rigging during this period.

    The next chapter features an unidentified British Second Rate Ship, c.(1715-1725).  Based on the model’s provenance, this may be the most controversial model in the Annapolis Collection.


  Extensively restored in 1923 to include the upper decks, quarter galleries, masts, yards, rigging and decoration, this dock yard model is a far cry from its original appearance when purchased by Colonel Rogers.  Walker’s explanation for the controversy, as well as his efforts to identify, and rationalize the appearance of the model, makes for some great reading!

   Although referred to as Model No. 39 in the Rogers Collection, the British First Rate Royal William, 100 (1719) was actually the first dockyard model purchased by Colonel Rogers.

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  The provenance of this magnificent ship model is unknown prior to the Twentieth Century.  Yet, the author provides an intriguing, and somewhat bizarre, tale of how Royal William was eventually obtained by Rogers.  The subsequent detailed analysis of this model, accompanied by a wealth of outstanding photographs is worth the cost of this book by itself!

   The author states that Model No. 70, the British Second Rate Princess Royal, 90 (1773) is considered one of the finest examples of the ship modeler’s art in the collection.  Yet, as little as twenty years ago, this remarkable piece was literally falling apart.


  An extensive rebuild by Rob Napier, which is the subject of another SeaWatch book, brought this beautiful model back from the brink of disaster.  The story of this model’s provenance is most noteworthy, while the photos of the frieze work and carvings are exceptional, to say the least.

   Apparently, contradictions among models as old as those in the Rogers Collection are quite common, and the British Second Rate Duke, 90/98 (1777) is no exception.


  Grant Walker provides some intriguing theories concerning the construction of this impressive model.  Arguments are also provided that in spite of some notable facts to the contrary, this Second Rate does indeed represent the Duke.  Also, a rarity among British models in the collection, is the full set of furled sails this model features.

   The British First Rate Royal Adelaide, 110 (1828) is the most recently built model showcased in Volume 1, and it is probably the most radical.  The unique bow and stern are discussed in detail, with a contemporary diagram of the stern gun arrangement being provided by the author.


   Walker’s analysis of the slipway and ingenious case will leave the reader amazed.  He also explains why, in spite of the First Rate’s rock-solid provenance, this model still presents a few mysteries.

   The book concludes with six appendices.  They are Dockyard Models Defined, Colonel Roger’s Biography, Charles Sergison (a previous owner of Rogers Collection models), Scales & Measurements, Caretakers of the Collection, and a brief explanation of the collection’s Catalog Numbers system.

   The Rogers Collection of Dockyard Models, Volume I, features an oversized 11 3/4x10 format with hundreds of high definition photos, printed on quality paper.  This book is a remarkable achievement, and would be an excellent addition to the library of any maritime historian or model ship builder.




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I'd never really paid much attention to the Adelaide model when visiting the collection. I can understand how those old timers espoused form over function as the round stern is not aesthetically pleasing compared to those of the prior century. But it is an exceptionally well crafted model and I look forward to spending more time studying her on my next visit to the Academy.

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