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Mast painting/ finishing styles

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Hello Folks,

I have found considerable information about painting & decorating hulls over time and in different countries but very little about the masts themselves. A search of the MSW postings revealed little but maybe I missed it. My feeling is that in most cases, the masts were left in their natural state and only varnished or oiled to protect them. The common exception seemed to be with the hounds, tops, crosstrees, mast caps and mast 'doubling' where black paint was commonly used.


Without some useful references, I feel 'all at sea' on this aspect.



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What I see in paintings is white, yellow, or wood colored (varnish?) masts with usually black yards or wood colored yards.   If this is artistic license, it was pretty widespread among the contemporary painters.  I'm guessing that there was some latitude as to what was available to the ship's carpenter and possibly preference from the naval yards and even the ship captain.  


Disclaimer:  Just my observations over time and some guesses when the color isn't obvious...



"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

                                                                                Wasa (Gallery)

                                                                                                                        HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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