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Paid with "bright" rosin

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Dear Sirs,


before the yellow ochre and black stripes came into fashion in the Royal Navy and other countries, masy ships were paid in rosin, some more precisely in "bright" rosin.


If I understand well this was a natural resin diluted with some sort of oil (linseed?)


My question is aboiut the appearence: Was it a kind of reddish shade like violins today? Perhaps not as brilliant? 


And how was it looking after some time exposed to the elements? Washed out?


Are there any contemporary sources or actual pictures about that?


Thank you in advance, Daniel



PS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosin

Edited by dafi
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Another fine offering from  Daniel’s bumper book of everything you wanted to know about matters nautical but were afraid to ask ;)


I can hear the scratching of heads from here.


The definition ‘bright’ meant payed with Rosin, the main ingredients being Rosin  and turpentine.

The colour of bright sides would presumably vary dependant on the rosin used but light to mid brown would be my best guess.

Paintings around the time of the Seven Years War may provide a good clue. Most contemporary model of the 18th century are shown bright, but the finish may not be representative of the real thing.

Have a look at the works of marine painters such Charles Brooking and John Cleveley






This is probably as close as you will get.

As far as weathering is concerned, how will we ever know. :wacko: A ship model kept indoors may well darken with age whereas open to the elements fading is more likely, much in the same way old varnish appears today.

Carr – laughton makes mention of a ship having a dull appearance, like a bright sided ship discoloured by use. - Reminds me of my Garden bench.


 The practise of painting ships sides long pre-dated the Nelson fashion of the late 18th/early 19th centuries.

Carr- Laughton cites  an Admiralty order dated 12 July 1715  that the outsides of ships be painted  of the ‘usual’ yellow colour, which suggests that the practice was in force for some considerable time prior to this. Other contemporary references throughout the 18th Century indicated that painting was a normal practice.

However, this does not fully explain the case as in 1777 an order was issued explaining how the sides of ships were to be ‘payed’ and another in May 1780 saying that when ships sides were painted, the material  usually allowed for paying them should not be issued.

The inference to be gained from this is that the two methods co-existed, perhaps changing in precedence from time to time.


Is your question related to one of your multiple Victory builds Daniel?








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  • 2 weeks later...

The definition ‘bright’ meant payed with Rosin, the main ingredients being Rosin  and turpentine.


If I understood well, both rosin and turpintine came out off the same ressource: resin of special pine trees.



After the distillation of the resin the "mixture of diterpenes and triterpenes that is left as residue after turpentine distillation is sold as rosin."


Also in the german Wikipedia it is mentioned, that rosin was used as paint for violins, giving this transparent reddish coat.


If I look at contemporary models and paintings, it looks to me, as if there was still added some bright paint to it, giving this "bright/pale" appearance. Any ideas about that?


Thank you, Daniel

Edited by dafi
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