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Was ship's painted in the UK back in 1600's ?


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I searched the net, trying to find out if ship's were painted in the 1600's........ near as i could find was the 1700's.   i wonder if the mayflower was orignally painted ??  

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The answer is yes, ships were painted back then.   Look at the Vasa for example. 

 

Edit:  Painting of ships go back to the earliest times in history.  Eygptian, Greek do seem the earliest found but from tomb painting, possibly a lot earlier.   As for the Mayflower... yes.

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  • 1 month later...

However, whether the Mayflower was painted is another question. She was a fairly small merchant vessel, not a top of the line navy ship. She might have been painted, but as we know almost nothing about her except her approximate size, that she was hired by a bunch of people who weren't all that well off and that she was fairly old in 1620, your guess is as good as mine.

 

There was a reconstruction built of Mayflower in 1957, which was sailed across the Atlantic and is still in Plimouth Plantation. She has a bit of decorative paintwork - do a google image search for Mayflower replica and you'll see her. Apparently a new reconstruction is being built at the moment,  but I couldn't find any pictures of her. 

Edited by Louie da fly
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I think that the answer to this is “it depends what you are building.”  Royal vessels intended to enhance the ruler’s prestige or to intimidate a rival were painted, Vasa being a prime example.  Paints, were, however, expensive and would have been used sparingly on less important ships.

 

The expensive ingredients in paints were the pigments because many were made from finely ground semi precious minerals.  While the King could afford these, colors for less important craft tended to be those made from readily available pigments.  Black could be manufactured from “carbon black”- ordinary soot.  Red, which could vary from dull “barn red” to reddish orange could be made from iron ore bearing rock or clay.  Iron oxide paint is still used as a cheap construction primer and the barns disappearing from our countryside were painted red for the same reason.  Large surfaces of bare wood could also be treated with tar distilled from the resin of pine trees giving a translucent brown color to hulls.

 

In Mayflower’s case there is no documentary evidence either way, but there would have been little reason to spend money decorating a small undistinguished merchant ship. 

Roger

Edited by Roger Pellett
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I tend to agree with you Roger........ makes sence.  however i read on the internet that it was the  HMS MAYFLOWER at first..... and took part in chasing the spanish out of the english channel....... maybe it was painted when it was the HMS ???     if anything i read is true🙄  

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Hi Tom;

 

I would be very careful before giving too much credence to anybody who talks of Navy ships from the early 1600s being 'HMS'. This was a term which came into use much later. In the 17th century ships were always known as 'The' whatever. So Mayflower was called 'The Mayflower'. 

 

Prestige ships, or 'Ships Royall', were certainly painted beautifully, and gilded. Check out the painting of the 'Arrival of the Elector Palatine at Flushing' and other similar ones, which will give a good idea of what was normal for some ships in those times (the Elector had just married King James I's daughter, sister of Charles I, and returned to Europe in the King's best ships) It is probable that any captain with any self-respect would try to do his best for his vessel, but Louie's comments in post no 4 above are certainly worth keeping in mind also. At the end of the day, nobody knows, so do as you wish!

 

1031422353_PrinceRoyalFlushing.thumb.jpg.e5c119ac64f7ce78036e505ea7aae886.jpg

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

Edited by Mark P
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A knockabout merchantman would very unlikely have had any painted decoration. I consider the Mayflower II's appearance fanciful. Oiled timbers for preservation would be more probable. She would have perhaps looked like the attached photo on her very best day!

Illustration 14.jpg

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The English ships that fought the Armada were a hodgepodge of “Royal ships” actually owned by the Queen’s Navy,  privately owned vessels chartered by the Navy, privately owned vessels sailed by individuals who were not part of the Navy, and some of which could have been owned by the Queen privately.  It is likely that Mayflower was a privately owned ship impounded or chartered for the crisis.

 

Roger

 

 

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For below the waterline, various types of "anti-fouling" treatments go back a long way. See The History of the Prevention of Fouling. None of the treatments would be visible and "grungy" would probably be an accurate description.

 

I would agree that merchant vessels probably weren't very colorful because of cost. Would tar have been used as a general preservative?

 

Looking some older contemporary pictures, even the warships are mostly dark brown or black:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_art#/media/File:Accademia_-_Arrivo_a_Colonia_Cat.579_-_Vittore_Carpaccio.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_art#/media/File:Retour_d_Isabelle_de_France_en_Angleterre.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_art#/media/File:Gentile_da_Fabriano_064.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_art#/media/File:Pieter_Bruegel_d._Ä._031.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_art#/media/File:Bruegel,_Pieter_de_Oude_-_De_val_van_icarus_-_hi_res.jpg

 

Somebody needs to invent a time machine so we can get photos!

 

Richard.

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22 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

Apparently a new reconstruction is being built at the moment,  but I couldn't find any pictures of her.

The reconstruction is being performed at Mystic, Connecticut. But, you can’t see a lot of her ( at least you couldn’t in June 2018)

749587CD-2FD5-419F-AC35-67A87226B33C.thumb.jpeg.2139804334c667cf57789e38bf9d7b20.jpeg

 

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I want to thank all of you for yuor input on this subject.   i bought this AL kit (mayflower) a few years ago, after i bought the AL Virginia 1819 (my first build) .  i'm still working on the 1819 and still learning, when other projects are out of the way.  so i thought it would make sense to research the mayflower before i atempt to build it.  and that brought me to open this can of worms.   a lot of work has to be done to this AL kit to make the mayflower model correct. 

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this AL kit has only 4 gun ports in the wrong place'es, has no scuppers, no gun ports at stern etc.... etc.    that's what i mean about making the model correct..... i should have been more specfic.

Edited by TOM G
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10 hours ago, TOM G said:

this AL kit has only 4 gun ports in the wrong place'es, has no scuppers, no gun ports at stern etc.... etc.    that's what i mean about making the model correct..... i should have been more specfic.

AL is notorious for being "inaccurate".  But, lots of us got our start on AL kits.  As for the Mayflower... for all anyone knows they may have this one right.  

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We tend to underestimate the colourfulness of past worlds. The paint has usually disappeared from preserved artefacts and they are typically preserved under unoxic conditions (which is why they have survived), which tend to turn the woods dark, almost black (think of the preserved Viking ships). We now imagine them like this, which is not necessarily correct. The same for say gothic churches or greek statues - they have lost their paint over time or were stripped due to changing aesthetics. So, the medieval and early modern world was probably more colourful than we tend to think today. However, sensitive surface analytical techniques often reveal traces of paint. Which pigments were used depends on their availability and price for a particular time and location. Some earth-pigments, such as yellow or red ochre were cheap almost everywhere. Dito chalk/lime for a white colour.

Otherwise, the baseline technique for wood conservation would be to apply wood-tar, which gives the wood a translucent, brownish-reddish colour. Also mixtures with lineseed-oil were used. Adding a pigment to lineseed-oil is easy - you just get oil-paint.

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